Vindicator Cleveland State Universityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Arts and Culture Magazine
DRAG TAKEOVER of Cleveland PAGE 23
VOICES WORTH RECOGNIZING PAGE 19
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what’s in this issue? 3
Check Us Out Online
Letter from the Editor
Meet Our Contributors
OF CLEVELAND by AMANDA LIGHT
The AFROPUNK Experience by MIKAYLA GARY
by PAYTON MACK 13
Family in “The Farewell” by DOROTHY ZHAO
Red Flags in Multimedia Bi Representation by JESSICA LYNN
Fat and Beautiful by NGUYET VO
Beauty + Wellness
Voices Worth Recognizing
Summer to Fall Skincare Guide by SAMRA KARAMUSTAFIC
The Science of Natural Hair by MIKAYLA GARY
The Power of a Brand by IMANI STEPHENS
BY GRACE ROBERSON
Coming Out by BRIANA ELISE
Oct. 31st by VICTORIA GRAHAM
Your Money Your Choice by THYRA CHANEY
Visit thevindi.com to see our complete slideshow from “The Drag Takeover of Cleveland.”
A Most Sacred Right by RENEE BETTERSON
THEVINDI.COM | 2
CHECK US OUT ONLINE
A Destiny Fulfilled Through Destination. “During the 2019 summer semester, I embarked on a journey that strengthened my aspirations as writer and personified personal growth as I ventured out into Cleveland with multiple opportunities offered through Destination Cleveland..” — TYISHA BLADE
Sylar Interview. “Sylar put on an aggressively entertaining set, showcasing all of their musical abilities in a strong passionate way. The band’s set is everything a fan of theirs could have wanted from them.” — TABITHA TIMMS
Cane Hill Interview. “Cane Hill put on a crowd captivating performance, bringing their catchy and cinematic nature of their songs to life in a bold way.” — TABITHA TIMMS
#VindiAsks: What October holiday will you celebrate the most?
22% COFFEE DAY
@vindi_csu stay up-to-date with all things Vindi on Instagram
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6% SWEETEST DAY
72% HALLOWEEN Follow us on social media to participate in our next poll! @VINDI_CSU
w h a t’s h a p p e n i n g i n
O C TO B E R 10/5 Cider / Donuts
Part Bar Hop, Part Sweet Celebration! Featuring (7) bars & restaurants, premium hard cider & 3,000 custom doughnut creations! The official kick-off to fall season has arrived! This event is 21+ only. Rain or Shine. Sponsored by Truly Hard Seltzter, Peace Love & Little Donuts and Angry Orchard. $25 GENERAL ADMISSION $17 - $19 GROUP RATES
10/5 Skillet Concert
Skillet, Alter Bridge and Dirty Honey will all be taking the stage at Agora Theater to rock the beginning of the month! First act begins at 7pm. Skillet has cemented their place as one of the 21st century’s most successful rock bands. The Wisconsin quartet have received two GRAMMY® Award nominations and won a Billboard Music Award for the platinum-certified “Awake.” $63 STARTING PRICE GENERAL ADMISSION
PHOTO FROM GOOGLE IMAGES
10/19 Official Halloween Bar Crawl
Get ready to put on your coolest, scariest or sexiest costume and join us for the event everyone will be talking about. Halloween is back and we’re creeping it real with the OFFICIAL crawl! No tricks here, just treats! So come get your BOOze on with us. $19.99-29.99 GET THE EARLY BIRD PRICE
10/17 Maleficent II
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is an upcoming American dark fantasy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Pictures. It is a sequel to the 2014 film Maleficent, with Angelina Jolie returning to portray the title role. $7.95 STUDENT TICKET TOWER CITY
10/24 Chocolate Walk
Get ready to rejoice, chocolate lovers! A delectably memorable evening awaits when the 11th Annual Lakewood Chocolate Walk takes place on Thursday, October 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. in Downtown Lakewood. $45-70 GENERAL ADMISSION OR VIP
THEVINDI.COM | 4
here’s a song by Panamanian musician Rubén
In this issue, we include some insightful and incisive
Blades, “Todos vuelven,” which has a line that
articles, like the one by returning writer Thyra Chaney
translates roughly to, “Everyone returns to
about our consumption habits as a society and another
the safe haven where they came from.” Ever
by Jessica Lynn Nichols, on bi+ representation in media.
since I heard this line from the speakers of my father’s
First-time writer Payton Mack offers up an intimate
car as a girl, I have counted the places where I have felt
interview with CSU’s own Alex Scalzo-Brown and our
truly safe and at home. As an immigrant, as a woman,
Culture Editor Renee Betterson gives an in-depth look
as a person of color, these places have sometimes
at modern voter suppression. Our features include the
been far and few in between. I’m happy to say that I
history and legacy of Cleveland’s Anisfield-Wolf Book
can count the Vindicator as a metaphorical safe haven,
Awards written by returning writer Grace Roberson
something I am always happy to return to. I hope you,
and our vibrant cover story on the local drag scene,
reader, are also happy to return to our pages. I want to introduce some new faces to the Vindi staff
with interviews conducted by first time contributor Amanda Light. Of course, all of these articles have
team: Art Director Alexia Carcelli, Assistant Art Director
been designed with so much talent and care by our
Kyra Wells, Copy Editor Nicole Shriver, Multimedia
dedicated and growing design team.
Manager Max Torres, Online Content Editor Jillian
We hope you enjoy these articles as much as we
VanDyke, Arts Editor Joscelyn Ervin and Features
enjoyed writing, photographing, illustrating and
Editor Megan Baranuk. I also want to welcome back our
designing them for you.
returning editing staff and contributors, including our design team. I am so excited and moved by the amount of gifted and committed people we have working with us this year.
BRENDA CASTAÑEDA YUPANQUI EDITOR–IN–CHIEF
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Faculty Advisor Julie Burrell Web Specialist Daniel Lenhart
CONTRIBUTORS STAFF HEADS Brenda Castañeda Yupanqui Editor–in–Chief
Tyisha Blade Managing Editor
Nicole Shriver Copy Editor
Alexia Carcelli Art Director
Kyra Wells Asst. Art Director
Max Torres Multimedia Manager
Jillian VanDyke Online Content Editor
Joscelyn Ervin Arts Editor
Renee Betterson Culture Editor
Megan Baranuk Feature Editor
Imani Stephens Beauty Editor
WRITERS Mikayla Gary Payton Mack Dorothy Zhao Jessica Lynn Nichols Nguyet Vo Grace Roberson
Dorothy Zhao Social Editor
JUNIOR DESIGNERS Amanda Light Samra Karamustafic Imani Stephens Thyra Chaney Renee Betterson
Gia Paulovich Jillian VanDyke
Derek Prince Wilson Maria Ahmad
ARTISTS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Max Torres Lauren Anderson
Mikayla Gary Maddie McCoy
POETS Briana Oldham Victoria Graham
Disclaimer The content of the Vindicator does not necessarily represent the opinions of Cleveland State University, its students, faculty, or staff: nor does it represent the members of the Vindicator staff or our advisors unless otherwise stated. The editor reserves the right to comment on any issue that affects the student body in general as well as the multicultural community at large. Letters to the editors and other submissions are accepted, however they must have the authors name, address, major if applicable, and telephone number. All submissions become property of the Vindicator and the Vindicator reserves the right to edit submissions as deemed necessary. Magazine and newspaper theft is a crime; limit one per person. 2121 Euclid Ave, MC 471, Cleveland, OH 44115 216–687–2118 THEVINDI.COM | 6
THE AFROPUNK EXPERIENCE WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY
Mikayla Gary The AFROPUNK Festival is an annual arts festival that includes live music, film, fashion and art produced by Black artists. The festival made its first debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2005, and has since expanded to other parts of the world. Every year, AFROPUNK has their annual arts and music festival where many across the globe come annually to participate in weekend activities. The AFROPUNK Festival gives many a chance to show off the hottest trends and connect with one another culturally. The afro-centric festival has several locations where they host the gathering: Atlanta, Paris and Brooklyn. AFROPUNK is a place where many can come to receive opportunities, friends and acceptance. I was fortunate enough to attend this year in Brooklyn, New York! My experiences at AFROPUNK has always been thrilling and impactful to my life. AFROPUNK is a place where you can be who you are without any repercussions or backlash. Being in that kind of environment was something new for me. The elaborate colors, fashions and art provide a safe space for many to express their true identity through those various outlets. After attending the festival for the second time, I’ve come to love how each year there’s a specific theme for each festival. This year’s theme was “We See You;” this phrase can have several interpretations.
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AFROPUNK is a place where you can be who you are without any repercussions or backlash.
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No Sexism, No Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia,
The meet and greets with various stars and activists are also some of my favorite parts of the festival. Last year, Ava Duvernay and Tarna Burke made their grand appearance and served on multiple panels and podcasts. I had an opportunity to personally meet Spike Lee and the students that are involved in his film production, “40 Acres and a Mule.” Spike Lee is one of my biggest inspirations and role models when it comes to film productions and activism. Not only AFROPUNK expectations are clear: “No Sexism, No
did I meet great activist, but also talented photog-
Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia,
raphers. Yearly, Ruddy Roye, one of my favorite film
No Fatphobia, No Transphobia.” These messages are
photographers, comes to photograph the event and
posted across the AFROPUNK arena and their posters
meets personally with those interested in his work.
have become prominent within the arena.
Roye has always displayed his interest in the AFRO-
What also makes AFROPUNK a very unique festival
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PUNK festival and has never missed a year.
is the attendance of different black-owned business
Each year AFROPUNK has a host of artists that come
vendors—a section that promotes the importance of
and perform during the two day event. This year we
Black natural hair, and famous filmmakers, activ-
had Jill Scott, Rico Nasty and Alicia Keys. Although
ists and authors to serve on panels to discuss vari-
artists come and perform, they also interact and take
part in the festival activities.
My favorite section of the festival is Hair Village;
AFROPUNK is not just any “musical festival;” it
Hair Village has its own unique style and aesthet-
allows you to dwell deep into knowing who you are as
ics that promotes the beauty and worth of natural
a person and realizing the worth and value you have.
Black hair. Many women from around the world are
With the arena open to all demographics, genders
inspired and educated on the different ways you can
etc., you’re allowed to be you in a judge-free zone.
manage your hair, identifying what texture of your
I’ve also had opportunities to meet good friends and
have you have and also showing the business side of
still have connections. I believe culturally, AFROPUNK
natural hair products. Hair Village is one of AFRO-
serves as a platform to produce and showcase the
PUNK’s popular attractions at the festival, and each
uniqueness of African-Americans by broadcasting
year there’s new things added to the Hair Village.
the fashion, activism and afrocentric environment.
THEVINDI.COM | 10
GET HIPPED WRITTEN BY
Payton Mack PHOTOS BY
Maggie McCoy & Lauren Anderson
The world of music is bigger and deeper than we ever imagined. One way to understand that idea is by getting to know alternative experimental artist, Alex Scalzo-Brown.
hat’s the last song you heard?
student to come and rent out items. Brown upon first
Are you listening to it right now?
impression is eccentric: headbands, suspenders, long
Is it mainstream, or something
hair, oversized sweaters and jackets. The young man
no one’s heard before? Music
– with an interest in all things existential, cultural
to me and to others can be the
and societal – is probably one of the most profound
soundtrack of our thoughts, feelings and overall lives.
people I’ve ever met. A third year film student with a
Music can help you concentrate while studying, hype
track in editing, Brown also has an interest in music.
you up during a workout or even clear your mind of
Now, when you first hear someone you know state
troubles for a short period of time. My question to
that they are a musician you try to keep your eyes
you is: When was the last time you actually ventured
from rolling, biting your tongue through another
out of the norm of radio and TV music? Sure, I don’t
auto-tuned filled song, pleading for it to be over so
mind a tune from Lizzo or Big Sean every now and
you can lie about how good it is. This fortunately,
then. However, it’s good to occasionally dip your
and surprisingly, wasn’t the case. As we sat in the
toe into something different, opening your eyes to
equipment cage, music floating throughout the space,
something you never thought possible. Allow me to
Brown explained that although he started making
help you with that exploration with Cleveland State’s
music his junior year of high school, he had been
very own Alex Scalzo-Brown and his band, Elephant
writing since the age of 15. During this time Brown
in the Room. Right inside the equipment cage — filled with cameras, lights, boom mics and slates — Brown and I sit across from each other, awaiting the next 27 | VINDICATOR
had started the difficult task of trying to find people to join him in a band, which didn’t come into fruition until last year. The artist and his band Elephant in the Room create
experimental alternative music that, in
hoped to achieve, the answer was
Brown’s words, is “always changing,
quite — in short — profound. “I
always evolving and never afraid to go
want to bring people together and
somewhere else...our music says what
engage something in them that’s
has probably been said before, just in
different than the norm. I want to
a different perspective.” This concept
be able to change someone’s path
shows in the band’s songs; the band
in life just by my music.” And that
has a beautiful scope of genres they hit
day, I actually believed he could do
while performing such as folk, rock and
that very thing.
blues. “There is something for everybody,”
This article was written to get
the singer adds, “if you like R&B, you’ll
you hipped to a new artist but also
probably like blues; if you like rock then
to clue you in on a new perspective.
there is a pretty good chance you’ll like
As stated before, music is a way
folk. Music is interconnected — one
to e x press one’s sel f a nd t hei r
comes from the other”. Their music
ideals. Listening to one particular
has the ability to transport listeners to
form of music glues you to only
a location in which would best fit the
one perspective, but building your
song, whether it be a bluesy tune at a
musical palate broadens your range
dingy, smoke-filled bar, or riding in a
of thought. In all honesty, I never
convertible down a sunny road. “My studies as a
thought I’d like the music Alex Scalzo-Brown would
movie editor influence my music and vice-versa,”
make, but I took the chance to ask anyway. Ask your
Brown explains, “I want so badly to make a music
friend what they’re listening to, don’t press skip on
video for one of the songs.”
Pandora or Spotify. And maybe every once in a while,
the band has succeeded in that. As you listen to the song and the lyrics together, you are able to feel the electricity through your body: the drums, the guitar and — believe-it-or-not — even the saxophone. It’s a nice surprise effect, the music not only wanting to make you dance but it’s something you feel deep within you. Some of the songs to hear are “She Ain’t Got No Spark,” “Kicker” and “Rosalita.” “She Ain’t Got No Spark” is a song written by Brown himself that he states is “probably the song I am most proud of.” These songs like the others are inspired by everyday life and how we view the world beyond ourselves or, as Brown sees it, existential crises. These crises are good and bad, moreso an existential thought that has a person thinking about why this world is the way it is. “Feelings are what drive me… if I have doubts I just push myself to make more music because I know I’m just in a mood. I don’t have many fears about my music and there will never be a time in which I don’t want to pursue it.” Brown’s confidence, enthusiasm and outlook on life can be felt through the speakers in the room
listen to that guy in your group’s mixtape. BE SURE TO CHECK OUT Alex Scalzo-Brown’s “Bingus” and Elephant in the Room’s “The Cham-
pagne of Bands” on Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music.
that music can take us out of this world, but it’s rare for it to put us into
It’s often that music can take us out of this world, but it’s rare for it to put us into another one, and
as he spoke. As he taps his foot with his music, air guitaring the solo as he bobs his head fiercely to the words, it’s inspiring. It reminded me to always make sure that whatever I’m doing, I need to have a passion for it. That’s all any of us can do really. Becoming famous or a millionaire is not promised, but we can guarantee that we work on something that we like and want to promote and aren’t ashamed of. We shouldn’t be afraid of the things we like and want to do; we shouldn’t let our doubts stop us from living out our dreams. When I asked Brown what he THEVINDI.COM | 28
13 | VINDICATOR
OCTOBER 2019 WRITTEN BY
Dorothy Zhao A fake wedding is put on by the entire family to say their final goodbyes to a grandmother who doesn’t
he Farewell” was so relatable it felt like it could
years. The familiarity of not quite explaining every detail,
have been a movie about my life. It follows an
committing white lies to each other, and concluding a
excellently crafted a story of a family dealing
short call created an immediate connection for me to
with their emotions and cultural obligations.
the characters of the film.
Their matriarch is diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and
More importantly, the spoken Chinese and English
given three months to live. Billi, the main protagonist
subtitles on the screen allowed everyone to enjoy the
of the dramatic comedy, is a hopeful Chinese-American
movie. The combination of opera, a haunting theme that
writer and opens the indie film as a tired New Yorker.
comes on during every serious moment, and classical
She is hunched over in most scenes — sad and dejected.
music created a forlorn emotion throughout the movie.
Concern is written across her face and her body language
I was both amazed and perplexed at “The Farewell”’s
is reflective of the duty of carrying the weight of her guilt.
story. The ending was not satisfactory, but that’s the
Billi dresses in drab, monotone colors throughout each
way it’s supposed to be. It was meant to be open-ended,
scene, whether it’s at a wedding or walking through the
and it could open a discussion into a range of topics —
city. She isn’t faking her sadness, regret and fear. She
whether or not someone believes in the placebo effect
wears it on her clothes, face and words. One can truly
in health and wellness, whether the Eastern way of
feel how helpless she feels throughout the one hour
treating their elders is acceptable or not, and what
and 38 minute long film.
viewers would do in Billi’s situation. If you believe this
PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES
As the audience follows Billi through her experience
tactic works, then maybe it does.
of being rejected for a fellowship, flying to China, and
Given the perspective from a Chinese-American
meeting her relatives, viewers can imagine that it could
woman, I also discussed this movie with Kaidong Nie, a
be anyone experiencing the same thing. The children of
peer who grew up in China and later came to the United
Asian immigrants, such as myself, have dealt with similar
States. He stated his minor frustration with the movie
challenges as a result of the upbringing and expectations
as “how it touches on so many topics, but never really
of being successful and making their family happy.
explored any of them.” Patient autonomy, immigration
However, it’s not just the weight on one’s shoulders.
and differing family values and dynamics were all topics
Awkwafina, the actress who plays Billi, describes how
and moral dilemmas that could’ve been the theme of the
“in America, Americans think in an individualistic way.
movie, but “none got exposed to the audience beyond
In China, there is a group mentality so we take on that
dialogue.” However, one could perceive the movie as not
emotional burden for someone who is sick.”
here to make any statements, just to describe an event
Billi’s paternal grandmother, known as Nai Nai,
in its intended style. Nie also mentioned that because he
reminded me of my own maternal grandmother with
speaks Chinese, understanding what the characters are
her white poof of hair, her sickness and her hospital
saying can make the movie less enjoyable by focusing
visits. The movie’s depiction of China is so incredibly
on it too much. I thoroughly agree with him in that I
accurate as well: the multitude of new skyscrapers rising
eventually noticed Awkwafina’s accent was distinctly
above the dirt and concrete with the construction and
American and clumsy; it temporarily took me out of
tower cranes. Last May, I witnessed the similar street
the movie’s enjoyment.
markets, cramped apartments and pudgy kids addicted
In the end, Billi walks down a busy New York street
to their phones. The scene where Billi’s family visits
after returning from China. She stops suddenly,
their deceased grandfather’s resting place spoke to
smiles, yells in a fashion similar to the beginning that
me truly and deeply. I too visited my grandfather’s
her grandma made during her morning exercises. In
and my uncle’s graves, and I too burned cigarettes and
China, a flock of birds fly from a tree surrounded by
other offerings for the deceased. I bowed several times
an apartment complex. In closing, a short clip of the
to indicate my respect, much like Billi did. My mother
real-life grandmother of the director Lulu Wang is
wished our ancestors well, as the rest of the family
captioned with “Six years after her diagnosis, Nai Nai
stood there under the hot, bright sun.
is still with us.” It seems to suggest that perhaps not
As the movie opened with a title card that said in
telling the matriarch the truth, by committing a “good
Chinese “Do Not Tell Her” or 告诉她, “The Farewell”
lie” was the right choice after all. When I suggested this
starts with a touching phone call between grandmother
meaning to my mother, she agreed. “It is the Chinese
and granddaughter. It reminded me of my own calls with
way,” she stated definitively.
‘The Farewell’ was so relatable it felt like it could have been a movie about
know she is dying.
my grandma, as we have Skyped and video called for THEVINDI.COM | 14
BI REPRESENTATION WRITTEN BY
Jessica Lynn Nichols
Stereotypes of bi+ characters, and why they matter for bi+ people.
e know that when it comes to the media we consume — everything that entertains us, from books to television to film — representation matters, and when it comes to bisexual
people, there isn’t nearly enough of it. In their 2018-2019 report of “Where We Are on TV,” media monitoring organization GLAAD found that only 8.8 percent of recurring characters on primetime broadcast television are LGBTQ+. Of all LGBTQ+ characters on all platforms of television, 23 percent are bi+: “people with the capacity to be attracted to more than one gender,” as defined by GLAAD. The number of bi characters represented in media is slowly going up, but harmful stereotypes of bi people are not going away. The best way to improve future representation is to be critical of what exists now. These are some of the questions we can ask ourselves as we think critically about bi+ representation. How Many Bi Characters Are There? Media with more bi characters is not necessarily better, but it does make a difference. The characters we see in media portrayals inform our opinions of others. If there is only one bi character who cheats on their partner, that can easily be taken as a statement by the creator that all bi people cheat on their partners. However, if there are even two bi characters, and only one cheats on their partner, a careful writer can make it clear that this personal flaw has nothing to do with being bi.
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Are the Bi Characters Lead, Supporting, or Background Characters? Leads, protagonists and primary characters are more likely to be given their own perspective during the narrative. Characters who speak for themselves are usually more dynamic and complex. Well-written supporting characters may also have more opportunities to define themselves. Power and agency in the story promotes power and agency in the real world. If you only ever see yourself in the background, you will start to believe that that’s where you belong. It is empowering for bi people to see themselves not only represented, but independent and thriving. Does at Least One Bi Character Appear More Than Once? Is Bisexuality Referenced More Than Once? Do the Bi Characters Have Defining Traits Besides Their Bisexuality? These questions become relevant when there are no bi leads. If a supporting character’s sexuality is only mentioned on one or two occasions, and then never comes up again, that makes it seem like their identity is an afterthought. On the other hand, if a character has no interests, struggles, or concerns other than being bi, that makes it seem like their personality is an afterthought. In either extreme, the creator is guilty of tokenism.
Does any character actually say the words “bi” or “bisexual”?
Do other characters question a bi character’s ability to be faithful in a relationship? Does a bi character’s part-
Not only should characters have the power to define
ner question the validity or relevance of their identity?
themselves, but the word “bisexual” should not be
This is an extension of the above tropes, seen most
taboo. Depending on circumstances, this is not an abso-
often when a bi character begins to pursue a new rela-
lute. In some historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy, the
tionship, or comes out as bi while in a relationship. A
setting may be a society without identity labels. Even in
gay or straight partner may express fears that their
modern settings, individual characters may use another
bi partner “can’t be trusted with anyone.” Alterna-
label like “pan” or “fluid,” or opt out of labels alto-
tively, they may try to convince their bi partner that
gether. However, if identities like “straight” and “gay”
being bisexual is irrelevant while in an opposite-gen-
are included in the narrative, there is no reason to deny
der or same-gender relationship. This is controlling
bi+ people a name for themselves.
and toxic behavior, and the narrative should never validate it.
Is bi identity defined as attraction to two genders without a preference? If a character is attracted more to one gender than another, is that character described
Is biphobia, as described above, present in the plot? If so, is it challenged by the narrative?
as “basically gay” or “mostly straight”?
It is important to draw a distinction between stories
percent straight” is completely false. A bi person can be attracted to men more often than women, or vice versa. A bi person can experience stronger sexual attraction to women and stronger romantic attraction to men. A bi person can be attracted to nonbinary people who do not identify as men or women — some bi people define their identity as the attraction to two or more genders. Regardless of the exact distribution of their attraction and relationships, every bi person is 100% bi. If a piece of media suggests otherwise, any commentary it has to offer on bi history and culture should be taken with a grain of salt. Is a character’s bisexuality, or bisexuality in general, dismissed as a “phase” or “experiment”? Is bisexuality ever doubted as a real identity? Practically every bi person has heard this at least once, whether from strangers or friends, from straight people or gay people. It is harmful when these attitudes are reflected in fiction. It must be made clear that bisexuality is definitely real, and not just as a transitional period before coming out as gay. Are bi characters portrayed as fundamentally untrustworthy? Is a bi character viewed as greedy, indecisive, or sex-crazed? These tropes run rampant among canonically bi characters, and all of them have origins in stereotypes of real bi people. According to biphobic rhetoric, being bi is nothing more than the failure to “pick a side.” This often manifests as the idea that bi people can never be satisfied with partners of only one gender, and that they will constantly change their minds about who they want to be with. That isn’t true. Bi people aren’t
that acknowledge biphobia and stories that endorse it. Most media with bi characters will also include biphobic characters in order to confront bipho-
bia directly. If there is a strong bi lead, the creator probably wants us to sympathize with them. If the antagonist constantly spouts biphobic rhetoric, then
the condemnation of biphobia is probably a central
bi voices, you’ve
theme. Sometimes the framing is obvious, but in more complex stories, it may be harder to interpret. What do bi people and the bi community have to say
about this media? There are so many approaches to criticizing media and analyzing characters that it is impossible to write a
definitive checklist of what makes “good” or “bad” representation. Even beyond the content of the story
itself, everything from the context of time period and
The idea that all bi people are “50 percent gay” and “50
world events to the intent of the creator will further complicate its impact. To many, critical thinking sounds like a daunting task. It can be even more of a struggle for people who aren’t bi to make an effort at critical awareness and genuine allyship. When in doubt, it is important to remember that the people most qualified to make a judgment on whether a media portrayal harms or helps a community are the members of that community. If you are questioning the impact that a piece of media has on bi people, then the chances are that bi people are already talking about it. You can find criticism of bi representation everywhere from blogs and message boards to scholarly journals and literary analysis. If you can’t find a discussion already taking place, then ask a bi person, and listen. When you respect bi voices, you’ve taken the first step toward respecting bi people.
any more confused about their sexuality than anyone else. When bi people are confused, it’s usually because biphobia makes them doubt themselves, and not because they have some innate inability to decide.
THEVINDI.COM | 16
Everyone is beautiful, but not everyone thinks so. Body positivity has been becoming more outspoken, but fat-shamers are also on the rise.
17 | VINDICATOR
have the time or money to go to the grocery store and cook at home. And to those who say “then they should just not eat,” that is the irresponsible response. Everyone should have the choice to eat without being ridiculed and bothered for it.
can’t even begin to count the times family, friends,
I’m sure most fat people know that they are fat.
and even complete strangers have told me, “you’re
No one is suggesting a size 30 is as healthy as a size
not fat, you’re beautiful.” Misinformed ideas about
2. However, simply assuming that someone is over-
health, beauty and body image are constantly
weight because they have a poor diet or that they are
being distributed. People grow up with the idea
lazy is insensitive. They could have health issues or be
that ugly is synonymous to fat and being overweight.
living a completely healthy lifestyle. Either way, they
They have their own perception of people with body
don’t need to tell you or other “concerned” strangers
sizes like mine. We are seen as lazy, incompetent,
about it. Obesity can get to the point of being dangerous
stupid and disgusting. They think being fat is our fault.
to their health, but that’s between each individual and
Fat-shaming and weight discrimination is prevalent
their doctor if they so choose. Body positivity isn’t about
in today’s society. However, rather than the blatant
denying that. Fat activism is about liberating fat people
shaming society has done in the past, it’s now much
from social norms. It’s to make them feel accepted and
more subtle and normalized. You can be “body positive”
take things into their own hands if they want without
and fat-shame without realizing.
feeling forced. Some people believe making overweight
In an article in The Guardian by Lizzie Cernik titled
people feel ashamed of their weight and eating habits
“It’s not fine to be fat. Celebrating obesity is irre-
will motivate them to get “healthier.” According to
sponsible,” she states that obesity is a choice and that
PubMed.gov, this is far from the truth. This form of
suggesting a size 30 is just as healthy as a size 12 is an
bullying only makes them feel terrible about them-
irresponsible form of denial that isn’t body positive.
selves and leads them to make bad life decisions. My
This is the mindset of a lot of people who fat-shame.
family continues to fat-shame me to this day, telling
To some people, they will use this to feign concern for
me to exercise more and eat nothing because I’ll “never
your health. To a majority, obesity is not a choice. Yes,
get married to a man looking like that.” In high school,
it could be a result of eating and not exercising, but
I would constantly weigh myself and go days without
look at the world around you where fast food and boxed
eating. And I was praised for it. I was unhappy, but it
dinners are cheap and easily accessible. Many do not
was okay because I was finally going to be beautiful. I’m
better at eating regularly now, but I have those off days
rarely see a fat man in lead roles where his weight is not
where I feel like being fat is wrong. On those days, I feel
mentioned or alluded to. Weight is such an important,
ugly and my self-worth is low in a world where people
defining feature in society’s eyes if you are fat.
with bodies like mine are ridiculed in the media and in real life. But some representation in the media today has been showing me the opposite. Weight discrimination still exists, but so do those who are fighting against it and embracing themselves. Lizzo is a popular and rising American musical artist today. She is one of the few plus-sized people I have seen in the media who embraces their size and fights against the discrimination. She wears bodysuits and other tight-fitting clothing and looks absolutely stunning and blinding against all of her haters. I have always been told that tight clothes don’t fit my body size. Many
Today I finally understand that my body is some
people’s biggest fear. It’s uncomfortable to confront it, just like any other fear. It’s uncomfortable to confront my happiness and slow acceptance of my own body because it threatens other people’s beauty norms. But
what a fat person should wear is just one subtle form of fat-shaming. It implies that we can’t wear something because of our size. A lot of portrayals of fat people are the same. Not all fat women have hourglass figures like magazines seem to portray. We’re not all tall. We have hip dips and stretch marks. It’s not only fat women who are held to unfair stan-
determined by my weight, appearance, and health. No high school. I’m in more control of how I see myself. I stopped trying to “improve” myself for the sake of
my family and all of the strangers telling me I would be “oh-so beautiful if I just lost weight.” I don’t want
people today to experience what I did as a teenager.
surely becoming better. No one’s mental and physi-
I’m still struggling with my body, but it’s slowly and
ing a change of wardrobe that fits their standards of
confronting that fear. My self-worth is not going to be one’s should. I see myself in a better light than I did in
people have suggested to me that I’ll be more comfortable in joggers or other loose fitting clothing. Suggest-
no one should be ridiculing another in response to
cal health should be declining for the sake of fulfilling society’s beauty norms. Body positivity is not just for fat people or skinny people. It’s for everyone. October 6th is National Plus Size Appreciation Day, so treasure yourself, and help those who don’t.
dards. Fat men are as well. Men in the media are glorified if they have rock-hard abs and a strong jawline. If they have chub in their cheeks and a “beer belly,” they’re ridiculed and called gross. In the media, fat men are portrayed as the clumsy and funny friend. You THEVINDI.COM | 18
Voices Worth Recognizing A closer look into the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards and Cleveland’s literary legacy.
ith the start of a new season comes
While Cleveland is establishing itself as a literary
Cleveland. Since 1963, the Cleve-
destination, the bigger challenge is making its citi-
land Foundation has hosted the
zens more literary — or rather — cultivating more
Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards at
intellectual thought, discovery and discussion. But
the end of September, held at Playhouse Square. The
access to literacy, or books in general, especially in
event concludes Cleveland Book Week, which is a series
metropolitan areas, is based on many socioeconomic
of events in September that celebrate past and present
factors, including but not limited to class. The liter-
winners of the prestigious book prize, and according
acy rate in the city of Cleveland is lower than most
to the Cleveland Foundation, “promotes Cleveland as
metropolitan areas across the country. In fact, multi-
a literary destination.”
ple outlets, such as Spectrum News and Freshwater
It’s no secret that the city of Cleveland has been evolving over the past few years, with new businesses popping up left and right in different neighborhoods, and resilient efforts being made to strengthen its cultural counterpart outside of sports teams. That being said, Cleveland’s literary reputation has grown considerably, with local literary journals, independent bookstores and open mic readings at various locations. Larger, community-wide festivals include The Cleveland Inkubator (one of the country’s only free writing conferences), Cleveland Drafts and the Cleveland Public Library’s 150th birthday celebration this past July. The Cleveland Public Library, among the city’s most respected cultural institutions, houses one of the United States’ most sophisticated and intricate library systems. It is nicknamed “The People’s University” because of the many literacy programs it offers to patrons and citizens, which goes without saying
19 | VINDICATOR
that its 150th anniversary is a significant milestone.
a wave of literary enthusiasm in
Cleveland, have reported that “66 percent of adults [in Cleveland] are functionally illiterate” — that’s two out of every three adults. While this statistic is ultimately heartbreaking, there is no doubt that the pockets of literary culture throughout Cleveland neighborhoods are expanding and improving to include more people with organizations like Seeds of Literacy. It’s interesting that a city with a literary community rising from the ashes has an alarmingly low literacy rate underneath it. Perhaps the literacy rate is what propels the growing number of literary outlets to succeed throughout the city. The organizations that host events every month in different Cleveland neighborhoods are bound by inclusiveness and promote diversity. However, what’s just as interesting is that every year, we administer a prestigious literary award that celebrates voices of all different origins that is rarely
talked about. Just like the library, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are an important part of Cleveland’s history, and play
published three poetry collections over the course of her life: “Cinquainina” (1935), “Snacks” (1938) and “Balance” (1942).
a significant role in the literary world. Yet it seems
Although there is little information about her private
as though not many people are aware of it, especially
life, her name has made a difference in the city of
Cleveland citizens. We have the privilege of hosting the
Cleveland through her posthumous philanthropy.
only American literary award that recognizes racism
When she passed away in 1963, she donated her books
and diversity, and celebrates works from authors and
to the Cleveland Public Library, and artwork from her
artists from around the world. This is an achievement
personal collection to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
of its own on both a personal and cultural level for
She is partly responsible for endowing Case Western
Cleveland, so why isn’t it acknowledged as much as
Reserve University’s Judaic Studies department, and
it should be?
$30,000 was donated to the Western Reserve Historical
In 1935, Cleveland-based poet and philanthropist
Society in the 1970s to start a Black history archive.
Edith Anisfield-Wolf created this award to honor her
Therefore, it’s no coincidence that Edith Anisfield-Wolf
father (John Anisfield) and husband (Eugene Wolf)
started an esteemed literary prize that provides inclu-
and their commitment to social justice. The awards
sion for people in the literary community who have
recognize works of literature in the fields of poetry,
felt othered in their lives, whether it be the authors
fiction and nonfiction that explore the complexity of
themselves or their readers.
racism and diversity, as well as other topics pertaining
This year, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards are cele-
to social justice. Lifetime Achievement Awards were
brating their 84th year, with the ceremony being held
added in 1996, with past recipients including Isabel
at its longtime home, Playhouse Square, on September
Allende and Oprah Winfrey. Winners of the Anis-
26th. Three works are being recognized this year —
field-Wolf Book Awards have received higher acclaim
in poetry, fiction and nonfiction, with one Lifetime
throughout their careers, including but not limited to
Achievement Award being administered as well.
the Pulitzer Prize, like Toni Morrison, a Cleveland (i.e.,
Tracy K. Smith was recently interviewed by ideas-
Lorain) treasure who passed away this past August
tream about citizenship and compassion. In it, she
and won the Anisfield-Wolf Award for “Beloved” in
said: “We’re so habituated to making assumptions
1988. Other prominent names on the Anisfield-Wolf
about other people’s stories and their motives, and
roster include Langston Hughes (1954), Martin Luther
we tell ourselves that we know where other people are
King Jr.(1959), and Ralph Ellison (1992).
coming from. I don’t think that’s the most healthy
A story that yields just as much importance is that
approach to relating to anyone, and it’s particularly
of Edith Anisfield-Wolf herself. In May of this year,
unhealthy in a climate where there’s so much tension
Lisa Nielson, a Anisfield-Wolf SAGES Fellow at Case
Western Reserve University, published the article
Literature has the power to inspire us, challenge
“The Mystery Of Edith Anisfield Wolf, Founder Of
us and change the way we think about the world
Our Book Prize.” In it, Nielson not only acknowledges
around us. But most importantly, it connects people
her admiration for the founder of the award, but her
of all different backgrounds, which is nothing short
bewilderment at the fact that there is not much infor-
of extraordinary. In today’s political climate, it’s
mation to constitute a lengthy biography.
important that we take different points of view into
By means of copious research and combing through
consideration, both as readers and as human beings.
genealogy databases, Nielson discovered that Anis-
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards does more than
field-Wolf was the daughter of immigrants, namely
honor voices –– it encourages empathy. Empathy
her father. Jechiel Jonas Anisfield, who changed his
is needed to understand and interpret works of art,
name to John when he arrived in the United States from
especially the written word. In its 84 years of exis-
Poland, established himself in the textile industry and
tence, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards have acquired
spoke multiple languages. He made sure that Edith
a vast collection of stories, poems, confessions and
had access to education, although she did not end up
truths from various walks of life, which is representa-
graduating from the Mather College for Women, going
tion that we need. While the country has experienced
on to marry Cleveland lawyer Eugene Wolf instead.
many cultural and political changes since 1935, when
A patron of the arts, Edith was elected to the Cleve-
the Anisfield-Wolf prize was first created, there are
land Public Library Board of Trustees in 1943, and
still resolutions to be made regarding immigration,
served until 1946. The July 14th, 1943 issue of The
racism and acceptance of others. But what’s import-
Plain Dealer that Nielson found during her research
ant is how we contribute to discussions surrounding
announced Anisfield-Wolf’s election, in which her
these topics, and we can start by reading the voices
Cleveland Public Library colleagues described her as
recognized by this award.
“conciliatory and soft-spoken, but she manages to have her way.” According to her file in the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery, Anisfield-Wolf THEVINDI.COM | 20
Let’s take a look at This Year’s Winners:
Poetry: Tracy K. Smith, “Wade in the Water”
You want a poem to unsettle something.
Tracy K. Smith is the current Poet Laureate of the United States, and
has earned degrees from Harvard, Columbia and Stanford. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her third novel “Life on Mars” in 2012. “Wade
in the Water” is a collection of 52 poems that addresses slavery in the Civil War and other topics pertaining to race. In the past, Smith has said, “You want a poem to unsettle something.” When describing “Wade in the Water” to ideastream, Smith said: “It’s a book in which I was really trying to grapple with questions of anxiety around America and contemporary America where questions of racial difference seem to be as unresolved as they were a generation or more ago.”
Fiction: Tommy Orange, “There, There”
“There, There” is written in the point of view of twelve Native American voices
Tommy Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations.
His father grew up on Native American reservations in Oklahoma and his mother is white. Growing up, Orange struggled with identifying with his mixed background, admitting to the New York Times that he
“didn’t feel Indian enough or white enough.” In 2016, he received an MFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “There, There” is written in the point of view of twelve Native American voices.
21 | VINDICATOR
Nonfiction: Andrew Delbanco, “The War Before the War: Fugitive Slaves and the Struggle for America’s Soul from the Revolution to the Civil War”
the political, legal and moral furor that lit the fuse of the Civil War.
Andrew Delbanco is the Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University. His parents are German Jews who fled to
London and later emigrated to the United States in 1948. Over the course of his life he has earned three degrees from Harvard University and a National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in 2012. He spent ten years collecting research for “The War Before the War,” which, according to the Anisfield-Wolf website, focuses on enslaved people and “the political, legal and moral furor that lit the fuse of the Civil War.”
Lifetime Achievement: Sonia Sanchez
I write to keep contact with our ancestors and spread the truth to people.
Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, teacher, activist and one of
the founders of the Black Arts Movement in the mid-20th century. She published her first book of poetry, “Homecoming,” in 1969. In 2018, the Academy of American Poets awarded her the $100,000 Wallace Stevens Prize, their lifetime achievement prize. Sanchez has said about writing “I write to keep contact with our ancestors and spread the truth to people.”
THEVINDI.COM | 22
Takeover OF CLEVELAND
rom Cookie Monster to cabaret, Cleveland’s 4th Annual
of the showcase, is also the creator of the Drag Pride flag. Cleve-
Drag Showcase had it all. This all ages show brought
land is a mecca for drag excellence. From drag podcasts to story
together Ohio’s greatest drag performers from every
times, reality TV shows to live performances, in punk venues and
genre you’d have to travel a dozen different stages to
all the way to Public Square, Cleveland is a drag city. Meet some
see. As a city, we have the distinct honor of being home
of the artists, advocates and producers bringing drag to you.
to the first person to have a doctorate in drag history, from Case Western Reserve, Dr. Lady J. Clevelander Veranda L’Ni, producer
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
ANHEDONIA DELIGHT Anhedonia Delight is both a performer and a producer
entitled “Pre-Pride on the East Side,’’ a pride event and
whose monthly GlamGore Show can be seen at the
drag show [all]-in-one that was officially sponsored by
the LGBTQ Center of Cleveland and Planned Parenthood, featuring 12 performers I booked personally. This
Last year I went to your shows at the Grog Shop, as
lofty concept I planned turned out to be a large success
well Dungeons and Drag Queens at the former Euclid
and has since become an annual and celebrated event
Tavern/Happy Dog. As an east sider, I’ve noticed more shows pop up on the east side the past couple of years. What caused that shift? Drag shows have always congregated west of Downtown, Cleveland; primarily in Lakewood and primarily all along Detroit Avenue. I think there was a huge need to fill in the drag space on the east side of Cleveland. Since drag was so concentrated and over-
I look forward to every year at the Grog Shop. I now plan this annual “Pre-Pride on the East Side Show” with local vendors, artists and activists, including trans services and outreach Margie’s Hope, Drag Pride and the LGBTQ Center all under one roof!
Later in 2018, I began hosting shows at the Grog Shop but they were not monthly […] It wasn’t until 2019 that I
realized I knew where my direction was going as a show
alternative drag [which] incorporates lesser-known
on the east side.
istics of drag artistry […] At that time, I invited Dragula
How did your collaboration with producing your
special guest from Los Angeles to the Grog Shop […] in
finding the right time and place for drag to thrive
shows at the Grog Shop come about? As a Cleveland Heights resident, I live a block away from the Grog Shop. In winter of 2017, I toyed around with the idea of reaching out to South Side, an established brunch venue in Tremont, and The Fairmount, another well-established restaurant with a large following. It wasn’t until I thought hard about what type of shows I wanted to produce that I realized Grog Shop was my one shot at making my vision [become] a reality. Grog Shop is a rough-around-the-edges, punk-rock venue nestled in my neighborhood. And most importantly, punk rock vibes have always been a source of inspiration for my personality and art. In the spring of 2018 […] I came ready with a general skeleton of an idea: with hours, ticket prices, a rotating cast and DJ, how to clean, setup and what my needs were. The owner, Kathy Blackman, [had] never had
host, producer and artist. My vision was to showcase and avant garde show concepts, looks and characterSeason 1 breakout star, Ursula Major, to perform as a
source of inspiration
February 2019. The feeling I felt as an artist certainly solidified after that event and I began to realize how I was going to market and sell my monthly shows. Following February’s success, I came up with a show name that was all ages, true to name and memorable. After careful deliberation, I created the name
“GlamGore,” the name I fused out of the beauty and
personalty and art
saturated at west side venues, I think it was simply
horror of drag. The show would celebrate the rougharound-the-edges type of performers that inspired my drag. Much like early artists Leigh Bowery, Divine and many other drag artists and club kids, I gravitated toward the underbelly of art that stuck a middle finger to the face of mainstream art. During this time, I was also branching off more into this drag/performance artist route with some of my own concepts on stage, which took inspiration
a drag show, let alone a monthly series. She listened
from filth, mental health awareness, irreverence and
to my idea and trusted my input and guided me with
horror. I produce, market, advertise and host all vari-
her protocol and the rest slowly took off. I planned for
eties of drag for GlamGore […] Each show is based on
months and collaborated with the network of people
a specific theme that […] challenges my cast to go out
I’ve met and connected with as a young LGBTQ profes-
of their comfort zone and prepare special pieces that
take elements of cult horror, camp and filth to a whole
I hosted my first Grog Shop show on May 31st, 2018,
new level! THEVINDI.COM | 24
Currently, the GlamGore series takes place every
while my roommates were away. All my beginnings
last Thursday of the month, excluding Wednesday,
and memories are special to me because it shows how
Oct 30th which celebrates the return of Ursula Major
far I have come and what I did for others.
and my first Halloween show! Each show rotates a new cast and special guests from Columbus, Ohio’s “Cult
Did you have a mentor? Do you have any mentees?
of Controversy”, an alternative drag troupe that are
Yes! My mentor is a dear friend of mine, Chad Fox. I
staples to my show design. Be on the lookout for my
met him back in 2014 when I was an undergrad. He saw
Instagram promo videos that I personally film outside
my ambition and passion for drag and he taught me
of the Grog Shop leading up to the monthly event and
the professional skills necessary to earn respect and
my Instagram for ticket prices and show details! Also,
recognition around the city. He is not a drag queen,
keep your eyes peeled every month for physical flyers
but he lived in San Francisco for 20+ years and has
posted all around Coventry in Cleveland Heights!
seen the good, the bad and the ugly of drag queens and their careers. He frequently references Peaches Christ, Heklina and many other local [San Francisco] artists
When did you start producing drag events around Cleveland? I was tasked with hosting my first local shows at various local dive bars like Cocktails Cleveland starting in 2016. By allowing myself to go out of my comfort zone and learn how to work a crowd, I became more marketable. My enthusiasm to host and produce casts must have impressed fellow entertainers and venues. Over the past three years, I’ve become more comfortable and interested in producing and hosting shows. It was something I focused my time and energy on because I enjoyed letting people immerse themselves in what I sold on stage.
as professionals who take their craft seriously. I think he saw a similar passion in me that he saw in them and helped me understand the crossover between the profession and art of drag. At this time, I do not have any mentees. In fact, I’m always learning and grow-
The drag scene is tough. I started shows in 2016 and
won’t ever have any. I am very picky and my drag child would need to be [a] conceptual and thoroughly detailed artist like myself. They would need to have a
special “je ne sais quoi” about them. Did you start in Cleveland? When and where was your
first Cleveland performance? Yes, I started drag in Cleveland. I had my debut public
What was the drag scene like when you started performing in Cleveland?
ing, myself, so I am not currently looking. Maybe I
appearance as Anhedonia Delight on August 8th, 2016
How is the Cleveland drag scene unique or different
at Bounce Night Club.
was performing for free for several months. In the mother”, which is usually an elder queen who guides, nurtures, and supports them with their skill sets and helps with makeup, etc. I personally did not have this experience. I wasn’t supported or uplifted by many locals. The scene was very cutthroat and abrasive, to say the least. Everyone I met had been doing drag for many years and when I showed up, it seemed drag was just a way to earn extra cash and was very strict and limited in artistic styles. Around the same time, drag began to evolve into this new wave, no rules mentality. This type of newer, conceptual drag wasn’t exactly understood or praised when I started in Cleveland. Ultimately, many entertainers felt that if you didn’t
of the month
from other cities you’ve performed? Now, the Cleveland drag scene is far more unique and well-rounded than it was when I started. That being said, it is always growing and evolving. You can now find every aspect of drag, you just need to know where to look. There is now something for everyone. Glam-
drag scene, typically, new entertainers find a “drag
our, comedy, alternative, pageant, kings, queens and in-betweens, you name it. All audiences have their preferences for sure, but at least you now have a variety of venues and performance styles to choose from. If you were to ask me this question several years ago, I’d say everything felt homogenized.
fit a “pageant” mold that was like the casts of local
How have you changed as a performer now compared
bars, you were rarely given chances for performing
to when you started?
on stage, let alone getting paid for anything because
I’ve changed as a performer in that I’ve allowed myself
you were “weird”, or driving away regular audiences.
to constantly evolve. I am always changing, but the biggest difference now is that I’m not afraid to look
When did you first start performing drag?
silly or make mistakes. I used to fear looking unpol-
I used to get up in drag for Halloween back in 2014
ished, but I’ve realized that allowing people to see my
and 2015 in college just for fun. I first performed for
faults has let them see me vulnerable and real. I want
friend’s birthday parties before I performed at venues.
people to know that my drag journey is always growing
I used to perform in my friends’ Cleveland Heights
because if I’m not growing and pushing myself, my art
apartment kitchens and dining rooms with circles of
will become stagnant.
people at either end of the hallway entrances. I also
Over the years, I have taught myself how to create
used to practice performing for friends in dorm rooms
my own music mixes, how to stilt-walk and play with
25 | VINDICATOR
different makeup styles, so you can say I’m selftaught in many aspects. I’ve changed my makeup over the years and learned what works and doesn’t work with my skin and I’ve watched and learned how to host across a variety of stages, becoming more confident in my abilities over the years. Narrowing it down to the art of drag who is your idol? Firstly, I am inspired by conceptual visual artists primarily. Larger-than-life makeup, outrageous costumes, etc. To name a few, I am inspired by the bold and iconic life of Divine, the glamorous and sultry drag artist Miss Fame, the avant garde concepts of Christeene and Leigh Bowery, and the wacky antics of comedian Eric Andre and drag artist Tammie Brown! What do you consider when building a new drag number? I love planning new drag numbers. I usually spend a month or more planning a concept and executing it into a full-fledged piece. I consider many aspects: costumes, price budgets, textures, song choice and mixing sound bytes, venue space, audiences, time of year and when to debut the piece. I am also very conceptual and detailed so I like to perfect the first debut of my pieces as best as I can. What advice would you give someone who wants to enter this creative space? I would say work your butt off every single chance you get and appreciate every opportunity afforded to you. You may never know what event or venue will open the door to the next opportunity. Know your worth and always treat your drag like a business, which means you need to INVEST in your drag. Carry yourself professionally, think before you act and stay humble. I would also say, focus on yourself and keep pushing yourself, instead of comparing yourself to others. Be yourself and be the best version of that persona and LOVE what you do. Who is someone new on the scene you want people to watch out for? I have been keeping my eye on Lexi Pro more and more in the past several months. I’ve had the ability to work with [her] in several capacities and she’s really got an arsenal of talent. She’s down to earth, sweet, funny, can sing live and knows how to entertain a large crowd. When someone leaves your show what’s the impression you want the audience to leave with? I want you to leave feeling entertained and inspired in some sort of way. My goal is to make you feel something, to connect with you on a higher level and offer new and exciting drag to Cleveland.
SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter @TheAnhedonia Facebook @AnhedoniaDelight Instagram @anhedoniadelight
SASSY SASCHA Sassy Sascha is a bio-drag performer, advocate, drag storytime teller and host of Drag Brunch at the Winchester Tavern. I think it is fabulous that you host story time at Ice Cream Joy in Lakewood; ice cream plus books plus drag equals perfection. How did you come up with the concept? In 2018 I was asked to do a Drag Queen Storytime with Flaming River Con, and I loved it so much, I knew there needed to be one at least every month. Then I met with the ladies Colors+Youth Center and told them about my idea of storytime and they found the place, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s now a regular once a month event. 27 | VINDICATOR
Was it always hosted at that location?
SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter @SassySaschaDiva Facebook @sassysascha Instagram @sassysascha13
Yes the owners of Ice Cream Joy are a lovely couple that are involved with Colors+ Youth Center How did your collaboration with for Drag Brunch at The Winchester come about? I worked at a restaurant called Latitude 41 and the owner Kathy Brown allowed me to start my brunch there. I always wanted a daytime show that people old and young could attend and come together in a safe space. Unfortunately, they closed and I hunted for the right venue and met the owners of Winchester. They were so kind and we've been there ever since.
Did you start in Cleveland? When and where was the first
Cleveland venue you performed? I did start in Clevelamd and the first venue I performed at was Bottoms Up in Lakewood 2013 How is the Cleveland drag scene unique/different from
ALWAYS, always be humble and never stop learning and ALWAYS have fun.
other cities you’ve performed? I think most of us try to keep the drama at a minimum and help each other. With the shortage of gay bars many of us have gone on to find LGBTQ+ friendly spaces that we can host drag shows. How have you changed as a performer now compared to when you started? I've definitely tried to be more open to all forms if Drag even if I don't understand them, before I was more dedicated only to "old school" drag of nothing, but glitz and glam, but now the spectrum is so huge there aren't any rules because it's ALL ART. In the broadest sense who is your performing/art idol? I don't really know to be honest, if I had to choose it would probably be Jlo...I love that no matter her age she's an amazing singer, dancer and actress/producer. Narrowing it down to the art of drag who is your idol? Veranda LNi ...she's done so much. Not only in Drag, but with our youth as well. She's truly an amazing individual and so down to earth.
What do you consider when building a new drag number? First, I usually try to think about the venue and age range of it's patrons and what they might enjoy hear-
When did you start producing/hosting drag events
ing. I always try to keep my numbers up beat and fun. I
have to have a connection with the song to perform it.
I started producing shows before I even did Drag. I became the entertainment coordinator at a local gay bar I frequented in Lakewood called Bottoms Up. What was the drag scene like when you started performing in Cleveland? There were multiple performace gay bars you could go
Second I try to build an outfit to match it with my danc-
LOVE DR AG? The Queer Student Alliance & Campus Acticities Board present a Cleveland State University Drag Show.
see Drag. These were also the only places you could go not like today where there are multiple Gay friendly venues. When did you first start performing drag? I started performing after competing in a pageant for AFAB performers called Ohio All-Star Princess and
Did you have a mentor? Do you have any mentees?
Gibson and now I have a small family of entertainers that I mentor. Matt Cockrin, Dusty Bucket, Airwreka,-
What advice would you give someone who wants to enter this creative space? You have to have thick skin. ALWAYS, Always be humble
Who is someone new on the scene you want people to watch out for? Gaia Naturi….she's another AFAB Queen and one heck of an amazing singer. She's hungry for knowlege and
Where Berkman Hall Auditorium
willing to put in the hard work to get to her goals. When someone leaves your show what’s the impression you want the audience to leave with?
I must say I have many mentors, but the one's that helped me the most were, Reianna Ali and Natasha
flow and sway with my movements.
and never stop learning and ALWAYS have fun.
When Thursday October 10 6 –9PM
won. Since then, I have never looked back.
ing abilities...something that will shine in the lights and
See You There!
I'd hope they would leave with a sense of pride, love and family. I truly work hard to make everyone feel included and loved.
Carmella Du Buque and Arjay Cummings not to mention anyone who ask. I'm always willing to help. 1
AFAB: Assigned Female At Birth
THEVINDI.COM | 28
VERANDA L’NI Veranda L’Ni is Cleveland’s 7’ Tall Drag Entertainer,
about five years ago. While it is nice to be a part of a
Drag Pride Flag creator, Tit for Tat podcast co-host,
show cast, it is great to be able to manage your own
drag bingo host at the Music Box Supper Club and
show. This allows for your creative license to take
drag show producer of Queens of the 9 at the Alex
root and for your brand to solidify. Other entertain-
ers now know what to expect when being booked.
What made you start the Cleveland Drag Show-
When did you first start performing drag?
About 11 years ago. A local entertainer at the time
As the national drag scene kept expanding [into]
seen me on Halloween, of all times, and asked if I
ence on our LGBTQ youth absorbing YouTube videos and social media feeds, I realized there is no local outlet to physically witness the art of drag. This also allowed their parents to participate and see for themselves the inclusivity of such an event, most for the very first time alongside their kids. While it is fun to go and see the Ru Girls who happened to be on TV, because who doesn’t want to meet a celebrity, it is crucial to witness where they even came from, the local stage. You told the audience that it was a deliberate choice for the showcase to be an all-ages show. Can you explain why you made that choice? The choice was to show that drag comes in all shapes, sizes, genders and colors. And that it is okay to be yourself. Know that you are accepted. In this day and age, that is sometimes hard to come by. How long did you have the idea for the showcase before it became a reality? The idea had been twirling around in my head for about two years prior to the actual first showcase. There were a lot of logistics to muddle through first. Venue selection needed to be about accessibility,
would like to be in a show. It took about 8 months for me to gather up the courage to step on stage. And the rest is, as they say, HER-story. What was the drag scene like when you started
Drag is the most creative artform world.
performing in Cleveland? It was great. There were multiple LGBT venues to witness Cleveland’s drag scene. Now it is more spread out to multiple venues that are LGBTfriendly. When did you start producing drag shows around Cleveland? Did you start in Cleveland? When and where was the first Cleveland venue you’ve performed? I started in Cleveland at Cocktails Cleveland in June
of 2008. And subsequently started working at TWIST not long after.
the mainstream pop culture, and the visible pres-
Did you have a mentor? Not specifically. I think that I learned a lot from our longtime legends over time and am still learning from our current batch of entertainers. Do you have any mentees? Like I mentioned earlier, we all try to offer each
inclusivity and functionality before we could even
other help and advice as needed. We all seem to share
proceed. It is like a huge machine that requires a
tips and resources to help us stay current with our
constant tune up with sponsors, vendors, multime-
own personal drag styles.
dia and most importantly entertainers. How is the Cleveland drag scene unique/different When did you start producing drag events around
from other cities you’ve performed?
We are very very close knit group. Not saying that
I started producing my own shows in Cleveland
other cities are not, we really look out for each other.
29 | VINDICATOR
How have you changed as a performer now, compared to when you started? Absolutely. I’m more aware of where to go and who my audience is. Gearing my shows to suit the masses, so to speak. My makeup has evolved, and my sense of bodily proportions. In the broadest sense, who is your performing/art idol? Elvira is my spirit animal. Katy Perry has always been at the forefront for me, just because she has been colorful and silly. And let’s go old school with Cher and Madonna and Boy George. Narrowing it down to the art of drag, who is your idol? Varla Jean Merman, Coco Peru, basically the comedy queens. They are really not afraid to make a fool of themselves all for a reaction. What do you consider when building a new drag number? Sometimes it is a song that starts the process or an outfit that triggers a song. It can be very organic. I also try to take into concideration the venue and audience attending. You do not want to do a Broadway number at a punk venue. What advice would you give someone who wants to enter this creative space? Know that what you create is yours, experiment with different makeup styles, body shapes and song selections. Do not be afraid to ask questions of your favorite entertainers or mentors. Drag is the most creative art form in the world. Who is someone new on the scene you want people to watch out for? That is tough. Drag is every changing and there are fresh faces every day. All I can say is go to the shows and find out for yourselves. When someone leaves your show what’s the impression you want the audience to leave with? That drag can be a colorful surprise every time for everyone. And that they felt included and engaged. Most of all had a blast!!
SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter @VerandaLNi Facebook @TheRealVerandaLNi Instagram @veranda_lni
KAYDENCE JAYNE Kaydence Jayne is a live singer and co-star of the
looked in drag and felt like it helped me express myself
Delusional Divas of Drag show at PickWick & Frolic.
more aesthetically and be the diva vocalist I felt like on the inside.
Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s begin with the fact that your live singing absolutely blew the crowd away. How did you get your start as a singer? Singing was always my escape. In school I was made fun of for being gay and my ex step father used to mentally and physically abuse me. I would go in my room and dream of singing like mariah Carey and madonna and that's how I taught myself how to sing. In my teens I started writing
SOCIAL MEDIA Twitter @kaydencejayne Instagram @kaydencejayne
At the showcase host, Ken Schneck, dropped in the tid-bit that you want to sing the national anthem at a sports event. Did I hear that correctly? Which sports event? And what can your fans do to make this happen? Yes! I want to sing it at a cavs game at rocket mortgage! It would make me the first drag queen in history to sing it at a national sporting event. I've been in touch with the cavs
my own songs and in my early 20s self released my own
and sent my audition and info they said they will keep me
pop album. After that I toured with a hip hop r&b group. 5
on record and let me know if something opens up. I just
years ago I decided to be mariah carey for Halloween and
think it would be such a huge step for Drag and LGBTQ and
won a costume contest I was really happy with the way i
Cleveland and national sports and inclusion and represen-
tation etc. Etc. I guess if people wanted it to happen as much
would kinda be Coca Ina but she needs to get her confi-
as I do and thought it was important for our community
dence up so she can find her true self as a queen which
they could contact Nicole Faucheux the Game Presentation
I'm trying to help with! GET IT TOGETHER JANET! Lol.
Coordinator for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Did you start in Cleveland? When and where was the first
How did your collaboration with Pick Wick & Frolic come
Cleveland venue you performed?
I actually did my drag Debut in Akron I started going out
I auditioned for a show they were doing for thier caba-
in drag just for fun to get a feel for it i was with my friends
ret, one of thier scripted Musical comedies. I was actu-
drinking I asked the DJ if i could sing during a male strip
ally the first drag queen to ever be in one of thier shows
show at a gay bar that's closed now called Adam's street.
like that. They had been thinking about it for awhile but
I sang Britney Spears "breathe on me" That was sort of a
didnt know if they could find one who could sing. Well! I
practice run even though I had been singing and perform-
got the part and they rewrote the show a little to include
ing as a boy for years, Drag makes you feel Different. Then
me more! After that ran for a year I talked with one of
I did a drag race contest singing etta James "At last" at
the directors about me and Samantha Echos dream to
Interbelt nightclub in Akron Hosted by Danyel Vasquez
have our own show and he wrote it for us! Thus Delu-
and won a place in the finals and that's how I got my start.
it for you
of fun! And a dream come true that I get to star in with
How is the Cleveland drag scene unique/different from
my best friend!
other cities you’ve performed?
yourself, don’t be afraid, don’t hold
sional Divas of Drag was born! It's really funny and alot
It's really a buzz and still up and coming and fresh and
When did you start producing/ hosting drag events
alive and growing it feels like. We're a small little family
in a way and we all work hard to get it to new audiences.
I've been performing in Drag for 5 years I always sing
And I heard it has a fabulous Queen who sings live really
Live. That's my main focus. Producing hosting about
well ;-) lol but really it's one of the only ones I know of
2 or 3 years.
with a local Drag Queen Musical Comedy with live singing.
What was the drag scene like when you started perform-
-How have you changed as a performer now compared to
ing in Cleveland?
when you started?
Well it was mostly still just at gay bars. And there were
My confidence has really grown. I honestly feel like I've
alot of established queens who had done it for years. All
become who I've always wanted to be and I'm only gonna
the amateurs had to do the open stage nights which I
get better and grow. I'm a star ;-)
did my share of. Queens are welcoming to new queens but Tbh I didnt fit in that much because I'm really shy
In the broadest sense who is your performing/art idol?
at first and focus on live singing which is not something
drag traditionally is at gay bars. I think because of the US becoming more accepting and obviously rupauls drag
Narrowing it down to the art of drag who is your idol?
race were doing these big ticketed events at all kinds of
great venues which is cool because people are there to see drag not just hookup and drink lol which is fine too
What do you consider when building a new drag number?
because no matter where you are theres always that one
Everything, the way I look and move. But mainly a really
person who tell you they appreciated your art. And I like
solid vocal and making the song my own vocally.
to hookup and drink sometimes haha ;-) What advice would you give someone who wants to enter When did you first start performing drag?
this creative space?
Honestly when I was 10 my babysitter used to have her
Be yourself, dont be afraid, dont hold back, do it for you
friends over and i would put on a wig and dance around
and no one else.
singing "Vogue" and "Papa "Dont preach" they would cheer! One time I did a high kick and broke my moms
Who is someone new on the scene you want people to
lamp! She wasn't surprised at all lol I've been a queen
watch out for?
diva all my life!
Me! ;-) I'm always new! New wig! New Dress! New makeup! New song! New Bitch! But also Sierra simone
Did you have a mentor? Do you have any mentees?
seems promising. I dont know her well but I saw her
Danyel Vasquez was a mentor she helps all the new
debut on facebook and it was good.
queens and booked me alot when I was getting started and getting my first bookings which I really appreciate.
-When someone leaves your show what’s the impression
And although she's younger than me Samantha Echo
you want the audience to leave with?
has been a mentor. She's really hard working and ambi-
She's a great singer.
tious and all around amazing I admire that. A mentee THEVINDI.COM | 32
BEAUTY + WELLNESS
SUMMER TO FALL SKINCARE GUIDE WRITTEN BY
Samra Karamustafic Your wardrobe isn’t the only thing that úÄÄ½ĝ § ĝĻÝĦ·ÙƪĬē ĦÙÝĝ Ò§òòƟ Ōú½ ăĬĦ ÙăĻ Ħă take care of your skin and keep it healthy all season long.
h, fall: the leaves are changing color, the smell of pumpkin lingers in the air of every Starbucks and Bath & Body Works store you pass by, and you have just bought 10 new
sweaters because it was “necessary”. However, with the pumpkin spice lattes and turtlenecks come chillier temperatures too, and you have to adjust – not just with a wardrobe change. Our skin is reacting to these environmental changes, and thanks to some great advancements in dermatology, there is a product for everything your skin needs this fall. Check out our guide on what summer skincare gems you have got to stow away and what you should begin incorporating more of this autumn: Moisturizer Time to say goodbye to lightweight hydration because your skin is going to need a lot more protection as ŹĠă ŹăłŨăŬØŹƀŬă ûŬŎŨŰ̖ õõŎŬûĤŅę ŹŎ òŎØŬû̪õăŬŹĤƱăû dermatologist and Skincare.com consultant Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, “Fall is a time when you’ll want to embrace more emollient formulas.” So, ditch the gel moisturizers and opt-in for thicker creams instead –– your skin will love you for it! Bonus tip: if you are the type of person who loves taking hot showers in the colder months, Bhanusali recommends applying your moisturizer immediately after showering and cleansing to “lock-in hydration provided by the water.” Our Picks: CeraVe Barrier-Reinforcing Moisturizing Cream Neutrogena Deep Moisture Day Cream Drunk Elephant LaLa Retro Whipped Cream Facial Cleanser If there is any product you need in your skincare routine (besides sunscreen), it is a face wash. They play a
33 | VINDICATOR
ŰĤęŅĤƱõØŅŹ ŬŎĺă ĤŅ ŹĠă ĠăØĺŹĠ Ŏė ŎƀŬ ŰķĤŅ òăõØƀŰă ŹĠăƛ
ØŬă ƕĠØŹ ĠăĺŨ ƀŰ ęăŹ ûĤŬŹ̐ òØõŹăŬĤØ ØŅû łØķăƀŨ Ŏƫ Ŏė
Before you spiral into a mid-life-but-not-really-
our faces at the end of every day which is why it is so
mid-life crisis, hear us out: you are never too young
important to change your face wash with the changing
to start using eye cream! As we mentioned earlier, it
weather. Similarly to moisturizers, you want to steer
is super important to moisturize during the chillier
clear from any gel or foaming face washes during the
months, especially around the eyes. When she spoke
colder months. As Dermstore.com mentions: gel and
with SELF magazine, dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman
ėŎØłĤŅę ėØõă ƕØŰĠăŰ ØŬă ĠĤęĠĺƛ ăƫăõŹĤƔă ØŹ ŬăłŎƔĤŅę
emphasized the importance of eye cream: “The eyelid is
excess oil. This can be a godsend for the summer heat,
the thinnest skin on the body and since it’s constantly
but since our skin gets drier in the fall, we are at risk
ØõŹĤƔă̐ ŹĠă ŰķĤŅ ØŬŎƀŅû ŹĠă ăƛă ØŬăØ ĤŰ ŹĠă ƱŬŰŹ ŹŎ ŰĠŎƕ
of stripping our skin of its natural oils when using
age.” And, let’s face it: as college students, sleep
these products. Once again, look for cream or oil-based
deprivation and stress are no strangers to us, both of
cleansers that can provide some extra moisture for
ƕĠĤõĠ õØŅ ØƫăõŹ ŹĠă ØŨŨăØŬØŅõă Ŏė ŎƀŬ ăƛăŰ ̦ĠăĺĺŎ̐
dark circles!) Why not take steps toward protecting
and preventing early on?
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Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil
Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Eye
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As the colder temperatures roll around, so does dry and
ƲØķƛ ŰķĤŅ̐ ƕĠĤõĠ ĤŰ ƕĠƛ ĤŹ ĤŰ ŰŎ ĤłŨŎŬŹØŅŹ ŹŎ ăƚėŎĺĤØŹă̒
If there is anything you take away from this article, let
We all want bright and glowing skin year-round, but
it be this: sunscreen is a necessity all year round. Just
there is such a thing as too much exfoliation. “Yes,
because it may not be 90 degrees outside anymore and
you’re supposed to exfoliate more often in the winter
the sun is not out as much does not mean you should
–– many experts recommend it once or twice a week
Nothing is quite as nice
skimp out on this skincare step! Dr. Jeremy A. Bauer
only. BUT –– and this is a very big but –– you should
as walking into a warm
explained why sunscreen is a necessity during all
take care not to confuse dryness and dullness with
home when it is 10 degrees
seasons when he spoke with BUSTLE: “When discussing
irritation,” YourBeautyAdvisor.com states. So, while
outside, but an increase in
sun exposure, it is important to understand that we
it is recommended to get a little exfoliation in your
temperature inside can zap
are talking about two main wavelengths of ultraviolet
skincare routine now and then, make sure you are not
the moisture out of the air
radiation. Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) light are
ûŎĤŅę łŎŬă ĠØŬł ŹĠØŅ ęŎŎû̖ NŎƕ ŹŎ Źăĺĺ ŹĠă ûĤƫăŬăŅõă
- think about purchasing
the cancer causing wavelengths. UVA is present year
between dullness and irritation? “Usually irritated
§ ÙĬùÝ½ÝŌÄĖ Ħă ïÄÄē ŁăĬĖ
ŬŎƀŅû̐ ØŹ Øĺĺ ŹĤłăŰ Ŏė ûØƛ̐ ØŅû ĤŰ ƀŅØƫăõŹăû òƛ Ø õĺŎƀûƛ
skin comes with a certain amount of redness, whereas
skin from drying out when
day.” Fortunately, campaigns have been popping up
scrub-ready skin will just be dull and lifeless looking.”
all over the world that are talking about this topic;
primarily, their focus is on raising awareness over the
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have on the skin, many that are invisible to the naked
Clinique Exfoliating Scrub
eye. Even if you don’t use a face wash, moisturizer or
Prevent dry and cracked
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hands by always keeping
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a good hand cream and a
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Our skin is reacting to
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when it’s cold outside? Grab your pumpkin spice lattes,
let’s welcome autumn with open arms and glowing skin!
your sweaters, and your new skincare products, and
THE SCIENCE OF NATURAL HAIR WRITTEN BY
Mikayla Gary PHOTOS COURTESY OF
35 | VINDICATOR
Exploring the Science Behind Natural Hair Products and The Business Aspects of Natural Hair Products.
affordable and healthy hair products, the hair company LaJAshley has served beneficial for not only afro-textured hair, but also other textures. Laura Manning, owner of LaJashley, discussed
atural hair for the African-American
what it is like to be a Black women who makes and
community has served purposeful for
sells her own natural hair products. She explains
many years, however the maintenance
how over the years her products in comparison to
and affordability of natural hair has
others serve beneficial to all. One of the reasons the
been a disadvantage to many. Today,
brand proves to be beneficial is because LaJashley
African Americans are beginning to embrace their
focuses on providing 100 percent natural ingredi-
natural hair and roots by wearing their natural hair
ents within their hair products to influence those
more often. There are many hair brands that cater to
to begin using them. This in turn leads to the re-
afro-textured hair in efforts for men and women to
alization of the need of natural products. Manning
maintain their hair. Historically, afro-textured hair
is a specialist in chemistry and began making hair
had always been a disadvantage to African Ameri-
products for herself by using natural base produce
cans, which forced many afro-textured hair users to
such as veggies, fruit and oils. After seeing results
use hair products that were more hazardous without
with her hair by using certain ingredients, she be-
realization. One case study has shown that Black men
gan to share products with close friends and family.
and women are investing more money in not only hair
After a while Manning began to develop more of an
products but skin products to find the “right” product
interest in finding natural ingredients to put in hair
to work with their hair. “Black people make up about
products and continued to make her own products
13 percent of the U.S. population, but by one estimate,
African Americans’ spending accounts for as much
In comparison to other big hair companies she be-
as 22 percent of the $42 billion-a-year personal care
lieves that her hair products are high-end than oth-
products market, suggesting that they buy and use
ers. She says, “A lot of times, when investors need a
more of such products — including those with poten-
cut the need of top grade products sometimes have
tially harmful ingredients — than Americans as a
to be degraded because of how expensive the ma-
whole,” according to the article “Big Market for Black
terials can be. I wanted to make sure I could be in
Cosmetics, but Less-Hazardous Choices Limited.”
control of the ingredients that I put in my products
Many hair products such as Shea Moisture, Creme
considering that all of my products are 100% natu-
of Nature, etc. have grown over the years due to
ral. Seeing Shea-Moisture starts off 100% natural to
many being interested in the natural ingredients,
now cutting out some natural products made me re-
however often times natural hair care products can
alize the benefits of being an independent compa-
be very expensive. Throughout the exploration of
ny and the need for natural ingredients.” Laura also
says, “There are ingredients that Shea Moisture and other hair [companies] put in their products that can make it seem like it’s working but after a while it can cause adverse effects by using cancer-causing ingredients, or the ingredient won’t have much of a positive effect on the hair.” Another issue that comes up with purchasing hair products is the affordability aspect. When it comes to finding the right hair products for your hair it’s all trial and error, but the most important thing ucts. Laura says, “If a product is cheaper, you have to question what’s in the ingredients. It’s difference in price because of quality but you also have to compare ingredients to see if they’re not the same. Some brands can have the same ingredients but can be more expensive because of the name brand.” Laura shared with me how she also didn’t want her hair products just focusing on afro-textured hair, but all nationalities. “I wanted to be different with my product line by diversifying my product line. Most Black-women hair product lines are usually for Black women, but there is also a discrepancy in quality products for Caucasian and Asian hair product lines. I wanted to be that everyone can experience great quality products and have great hair; that’s why I wanted to make it universal to all product hairlines.” Not only does Laura sell products for women, but is starting up a men’s collection! She’s interested in providing products for men that are interested in growing their beards out and also in the makes of creating more products for men. Checking in with a diverse group of reviewers, I realized that many of Laura’s products are sold in various hair stores in Cleveland. However, her online website is where many of her customers shop for her products. One customer says, “Her Lemon Meringue Clarifying Shampoo was really nice though and left my scalp feeling clean without all the harsh chemicals; also her straightening hair elixir was perfect for scalp massages or for refreshing my curls in the morning.” Another customer says, “I recently used the Chamomile Chai Dry Hair Elixir by LaJAshley and I have to say I absolute-
Manning is a specialist in chemistry and began making hair products for herself by using natural base produce such as veggies,
to do is to read the ingredients of the hair prod-
fruit, and oils
ly love it! My hair feels so rehydrated and restored. My scalp is no longer dry and my hair feels like it has so much more bounce. Not to mention, it smells amazing! I can’t wait to try more of her products!” I myself am a user of LaJAshley and can say that the Strengthening Hair Elixir works for me. Needless to say, LaJAshley is a new and upcoming natural hair product that not only supports Black natural hair, but many various textures of hair.
THEVINDI.COM | 6
BEAUTY + WELLNESS
THE POWER OF A BRAND
37 | VINDICATOR
sized panties and bralettes for as low as even $20. On
aƀŅă ˘ˠ̐ ˙˗˘ˠ ƕĠăŅ DăŅŹƛ ƱŬŰŹ ŎŨăŅăû ƀŨ ėŎŬ ŹĠă ƕŎŬĺû
Rihanna’s impact in the fashion industry.
dresses and retro-styled glasses all caught everyone’s
overall bad-assness, there is one person who we all admire: Rihanna Fenty. The Barbadian icon has paved the way for
women and people of color in almost every industry.
She has transformed her enormous popularity from her music career into a billion-dollar empire. Newly labeled “the richest woman in music” surpassing long reigning champs Madonna and Celine Dion, Rihanna has become a powerhouse we’ve never seen, showing the true power of what Black-owned brands bring to the table. cŅŎƕŅ ėŎŬ ĠăŬ ŎƀŹĺØŅûĤŰĠ ŎƀŹƱŹŰ̐ ĤĠØŅŅØ ĠØŰ ęĤƔăŅ birth to phrases such as, “it’s not cute until Rihanna wears it,” or “Rihanna can wear anything.” With such a big hype to live up to and such a notable reputation it was only the smartest move to drop a fashion brand. Leave it up to the mega star to create not only fashion but luxury clothing. Rihanna is now the owner of her very own 600-million-dollar fashion brand. Starting òƛ òăĤŅę õŬăØŹĤƔă ûĤŬăõŹŎŬ Ŏė ƀłØ̐ ŰĠă ęŎŹ ĠăŬ ƱŬŰŹ ƕĠĤƫ Ŏė òăĤŅę ŹĠă ėŬŎŅŹŬƀŅŅăŬ Ŏė Ø òŬØŅû ŨăŎŨĺă ƕăŬă ƕăØŬĤŅę̖ DăŅŹƛ̐ ƕĠĤõĠ òăęØŅ ØŰ ŎŅă Ŏė ŹĠă ƱŬŰŹ òŬØŅûŰ to include a larger range of shades including more variations for darker skin colors, transformed itself into a beautiful makeup brand that now includes highlighters, lip glosses and more. “I’ve been slowly evolving throughout the fashion world,” Rihanna told The New York Times, “First wearing it, buying it, being recognized for my style and then collaborating with brands. I never just wanted to put my name on something and sell my license. I’m very hands-on, so I wanted to take it slowly and gain respect as a designer.” The łƀĺŹĤ̪ėØõăŹăû ØŬŹĤŰŹ ƕØŰ ŹĠă ƱŬŰŹ ĺØõķ ƕŎłØŅ ŹŎ ĴŎĤŅ the Louis Vuitton and Moët Hennessy (LVMH) empire along with other brands such as Fendi, Dior and other ĠĤęĠ ŬŎĺĺăŬŰ̖ §ĠĤŰ ĤŰ ØĺŰŎ ŹĠă ƱŬŰŹ ŹĤłă ŹĠă õŎłŨØŅƛ ĠØŰ added a brand under their belt since 1987. However, with luxury comes a price, sometimes even a hefty price. Rihanna created a brand that was high fashion and, in turn, a portion of people were not happy about the price point. It seems as though no one juxtaposed the idea of quality and money when the advertisements came out. The thought of Rihanna PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES
launching a brand that would be in the best budget for college students, for example, could have been due to the price point of her beauty line, Fenty Beauty. While it’s still quite expensive compared to the drug store brands of make up it doesn’t exactly break the bank
eye, but the price threw everyone for a loop. The cost of a pair of glasses by Fenty started roughly at the cost of $300. It came as a surprise to the customers who were used to quality products, but low-pricing associated with each item. Being in the social media age of the world this divided the internet in two. Half of consumers were of the opinion that this reaction is what is expected when you are dropping a luxury clothing brand under the famous name LVMH. The other half complained and said that the price was simply too high. This started the argument that people believe when a Black brand is the face of something it automatically has to be cheaper because that is what everyone expects. Nonetheless, whichever side you may seem to fall on, this is not detering Rihanna from creating anything her heart desires. Never addressing comments such as these, the star talked about creating this line all from her own artistic expression; “Designing a line like this with LVMH is an incredibly special moment for us. Mr. Arnault has given me a unique opportunity to develop a fashion house in the luxury sector, with no artistic limits,” Fenty told Business Insider. She says she never puts out anything that she would not wear ĠăŬŰăĺė̖ §ĠăŰă ĤŹăłŰ õŎłă ŰŹŬØĤęĠŹ Ŏƫ ŹĠă ŬƀŅƕØƛ ŹŎ ƛŎƀŬ õĺŎŰăŹ̐ ƕĠĤõĠ ŰĠă ŨŬĤûăŰ ĠăŬŰăĺė ŎŅ òăĤŅę ŹĠă ƱŬŰŹ innovator to do. Surely, other high quality brands will soon begin to follow suit due to consumers living in the moment of now and having everything accessible to themselves within seconds or days. There is a high importance placed on what this brand represents that is far more than fashion — it displays the mark of a new era; an era that includes genderless clothing, people of all body types and no limit on what the front runner of the show looks, sounds or comes
Rihanna is now the owner of her very own 600-million dollar fashion brand.
hen it comes to fashion, beauty and
to shop, the bustier white dress tops, one-piece denim
from. “I’m young. I’m new to the family. I’m a woman. Those factors do come into play, but I will not apologize for them, and I will not back down from being a woman, from being Black, from having an opinion. I’m running a company and that’s exactly what I came here to do,” Rihanna informs Time Magazine. As a child who grew up on the island of Barbados, to now being one of the richest women in the world, it is hard to put a limit on the possibilities of someone’s dreams. The world is changing, and whether Rihanna is making music or creating clothing, one thing’s for sure: she’s shown us the power of having a widely inclusive brand. Using ĠăŬ ĤŅƲƀăŅõă̐ ŰĠă ĠØŰ ĤŅŰŨĤŬăû ŎŹĠăŬŰ òƛ ŰĠŎƕĤŅę ŹĠØŹ everyone matters, and anything is possible.
with its $18 lip glosses. Also, on the list of Rihanna’s łŎŬă ØƫŎŬûØòĺă ŨŬŎûƀõŹŰ̐ ĠăŬ õŎłŨØŅƛ ØƔØęăƚDăŅŹƛ̐ does not cost too much of a pretty penny either. The brand sells undergarments such as their wide range of THEVINDI.COM | 38
YOUR MONEY YOUR CHOICE WRITTEN BY
Derek Prince Wilson
Whether we know it or not, our consumption habits are shaped by our values.
rom food to clothes to technology, we are constantly presented with an overwhelming number of options. Making so many decisions on a day-to-day basis can feel overwhelming, especially if you want to make informed,
ethically-conscious purchases. With the wealth of information available about each of these choices, our ability to choose from so many options is not a burden but a blessing. Consumption can’t control our lives as long as we remain in control of our consumption. Feeling empowered to align your purchase decisions with your values is a life enhancing exercise in turning your consumption into an outlet for mindfulness and self-affirmation.
The right way to consume is the way that’s right for you. No one is under any obligation to support certain brands or avoid other brands. It is up to the individual to form own unique their purchasing habits. If you want to shop without thinking, that’s your choice, but there is a more fulfilling alternative to blind shopping, personalizable to any price range or preferred level of effort. The key is to make value oriented purchase decisions. This doesn’t limit value consciousness to thriftiness or charity. What it means is that every purchase you make is a decision informed by the values you personally hold. If you’d rather shop for clothes at Forever 21 or H&M than sift through racks of secondhand clothes at the thrift store, you are making a value-based pur-
39 | VINDICATOR
chase decision. You value the convenience of your
“there is no ethical consumption under capitalism.”
shopping experience and the ability to buy affordable,
Looking to the internet for a list of commandments
up-to-date styles. Someone who prefers to shop pric-
is not the way to make informed, value based deci-
ier, name brand stores may value the higher quality of
sions. No one can tell you what purchases will align
materials used and the knowledge that the item will
with your unique set of values. “Ethical” is not a catch
last longer without needing to be replaced. Someone
all term, but a personal one. It’s more complicated
who prefers to thrift for their clothes may value the
than “organic” or “BPA Free.” The key to fulfilling,
variety of brands and styles, lower prices, and the op-
convenient conscious consumption is personalized,
portunity to purchase one-of-a-kind items.
not prescribed, value-based decision making.
Some people choose to make value-based purchas-
This process sounds daunting, but it’s as easy
ing decisions with consideration to their social, po-
as looking in your own closet. If you have a favorite
litical or ethical alignments. This requires research-
t-shirt, what are the things you like most about it? If
ing particular brands and products to evaluate their
it’s the most comfortable shirt you have, take a look at
supply chains, working conditions, company philos-
the tag and find out what materials it contains. May-
ophy or political affiliation. These kinds of decisions
be you’ll find that you have a favorite cotton blend. If
require more time and effort than many consumers,
you’re not familiar with the company or designer who
especially college students, have the time or energy to
makes the product, take a few minutes to look it up
spare. In the social media age, when simple graphics containing information about any topic are easy to create and share, consumers are constantly confronted with lists and charts containing information about brands, companies, and products with regards to these social or ethical considerations, often urging us to either support or boycott individual products or companies. Making perfunctory, passive purchase decisions based on a social media graphic or listicle isn’t nec-
online. Maybe you learn that the company has a cool philosophy you agree with or use recycled cotton. If they exploit child laborers in a third world country, maybe you look for another company with a similar
product more aligned with your values. Maybe you don’t care, you just like the shirt. If you use this process to inform your future purchase
decisions, you’ll end up with a closet full of favorites and stop the habit of grabbing random items at the
store without thinking first about whether you really
essarily a substitute for doing due diligence when scious consumption is about more than making the right or wrong purchases as prescribed by the arbiters of ethical consumption. As “ethical” becomes a buzzword adopted by corporations to sell products, the importance of making conscious, value-based decisions is paramount. Many brands market aspects of their companies as being more “ethical” than other brands or their new practices as being more “ethical” than their old practices. Basing your purchase decisions on someone else’s evaluation of a company or product could mean sacrificing one of your own personal values for a value
value them or not.
This process can be applied to fast food chains,
that you consume. Maybe you value the convenience
health food stores, makeup, phones or anything else of an iPhone over the working conditions of the over-
evaluating purchases for ethical considerations. Con-
seas manufacturers, or the creaminess of a beauty product over the safety of the animals the company tested it on. Rather than avoiding information about products you consume out of fear that everything is potentially unethical, look at the positive features of the product and decide if finding a comparable product from another company is worth more to you than the convenience or quality of the product you already like. After all, to many consumers, knowing how
prescribed by someone else. Someone who chooses to
Chicken McNuggets are made doesn’t make them
switch to a plant-based diet because they don’t want
taste any different.
to support the meat industries may find themselves
Focus on what you like, figure out what you like
accused of exploiting third world workers in the pro-
about it and why, and look for those values in future
duction or distribution of a staple food in their diet
purchases. Having favorite brands is a simple way to
like quinoa, almonds or avocados.
make conscious purchases, and taking a closer look
Consumption of quinoa has become controversial
at the products you already purchase and enjoy is the
as a number of debates and online articles argue that
best way to discover which companies you like best.
supporting the exploitation of quinoa farmers in Peru
Shape your consumption around your own values and
is worse than eating meat, while just as many claims
don’t feel guilty for valuing comfort, convenience,
are made that the farmers are fine and benefitting
taste or texture over someone else’s prescribed val-
from the popularity of the crop. Examples like quinoa
ues. Whether your value purchases are based on prod-
make it seem impossible to make perfectly informed
uct quality, company philosophy, political affiliation,
judgements about ethical purchases, contributing to
or social media presence, there’s nothing unethical
a pervasive feeling of hopelessness for many who are
about your freedom to choose who you support with
led to succumb to radically pessimistic notions like
THEVINDI.COM | 40
A MOST SACRED
Y C A R
Derek Prince Wilson
Voting is a fundamental aspect of American democracy. For communities of color, it is continually under siege. A RIGHT TO VOTE: PROTECTING A FUNDAMENTAL LIBERTY As election season draws nearer, we find ourselves forced to address one of America’s oldest and ugliest legacies: voter suppression. For generations, communities of color have been the target of campaigns aimed at taking away their right and their reason to vote. Decades ago, Black voters were met at the polls with impossible tests and guessing games. They might be asked to guess the number of Jelly Beans in a jar — answer correctly and they’d win the grand prize: the right to vote. At another location, Black voters might be asked to take a “literacy test” to prove their ability to read the ballot. These “tests” were designed to trick voters; they more closely resembled a line from a Dr. Seuss poem, than a literary excerpt. Suppression campaigns like these were fueled by fears of a demographic shift and its effect on the political landscape. They were calculated efforts
? 41 | VINDICATOR
to spread misinformation about voters of color; media portrayals and news cycles that showed caricatures of Black Americans as lazy, untrustworthy, uneducated and especially illegitimate. Today, people looking to suppress the Black vote utilize a playbook with largely the same tactics. False narratives about the participation of “millions of illegal voters” in national elections are used to gain the political capital needed to pass (and protect) strict voter ID and registration laws that disproportionately, and purposefully disenfranchise
communities of color. Ever since the earliest eras of American history, the battle over who can and should vote has bubbled beneath the surface of the political landscape, only occasionally popping its head up long enough to catch the public eye. Today we tend to think of the Jim Crow
keeping Black and Brown voters away from the polls.
on American politics as relics of the past. In reality,
At times, it can seem that we’ll never truly achieve civil
remnants of these laws can still be seen today — and
equality for all. Those who make it beyond the political
not by accident. A Pennsylvania voter ID law was struck
obstacles that stand between them and the ballot box
down in 2014 for, “imposing unreasonable burden on
face the threat of discouragement — subtle social
right to vote” and disproportionately affecting Black
influences that claim it’s all just a waste of time. And it
and Brown voters. To make matters worse, with each
works: I’ve heard more times than I can count, Our votes
election cycle, courts continue to discover counties in
don’t matter, or, Politicians don’t care about my struggle.
which polling officials still unofficially impose illegal
But, beyond the more subtle attacks on Black voters’
or outdated laws. Recently, several Texas counties
motivation to vote, there is an even more sinister threat:
forced voters to show ID after an en banc ruling from
foreign interference. Just last year, Robert Mueller’s
the 5th circuit found the state’s voter Identification
investigation into the 2016 election revealed that Russia
laws unconstitutional for having a discriminatory
launched fake social media ads targeting Black voters
effect on Black and Latino voters. In Bexar County,
in an effort to discourage election participation. Since
polling locations were discovered to be using signs,
then, two separate reports provided to the U.S. Senate
websites and hotlines that give false information about
Intelligence Committee show that Russia used targeted
how to vote.
ads to suppress Black voter turnout through the use of
S S E
R P P
U S “
For generations, communities of color have been the target of calculated campaigns
laws that kept people of color from staking their claim
Another key tactic in suppressing voters is Purging
fake accounts on Facebook. How effective was their
the Voter rolls. Unfortunately, this example hits close to
strategy? Terrifyingly successful. According to Vox
home, in the state of Ohio. The process for voter purging
News, “The black voter turnout rate declined for the
in Ohio looks like this: voters marked by the state as
first time in 20 years in a presidential election, falling
“inactive” (voters who’ve missed two elections) are
to 59.6% in 2016 after reaching a record-high 66.6%
notified by mail that their registration will be removed.
in 2012.” That’s a 7-point decrease from the previous
Residents who would like to remain on the rolls, send
back a survey card signifying their intent to retain
The good news is that the safeguards put in place
their registration. In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld
to protect against this kind of corruption do work. In
Ohio’s purging system, even in the face of claims that
2016, voter restriction and purging laws in Wisconsin,
is violated the National Voter Registration Act and the
Texas, North Carolina and Ohio were struck down
Help America Vote Act, which forbid purging voters
or amended by federal courts. The bad news is that
for missing elections. Of course, the discriminatory
each of those offices only work as well as its officer.
outcome of this law, like so many others, is not by
Immediately following these rulings, President Trump
accident. A similar law exists in North Carolina, where
began feverishly appointing new judges. Only time will
it was written in 1901, a subsect of the Jim Crow laws. It
tell what position the newly-appointed judges will take
belongs to a long-held tradition of voter-purging laws
on the issue of voter suppression, but so far the prospects
that were formulated to keep Blacks off of the voter
aren’t very promising.
VO TE In light of all this, we are presented with many
rolls, and away from the polls.
The purpose of blocking Black voters is the same
options — almost too many to choose from. We might
today as it was decades ago — curbing the tides of
become overwhelmed, retreating into our world’s
a shifting political landscape. As America gradually
entertainment, fashion and celebrity gossip, falling
victim to the tactics aimed at discouraging young
increased political power, signalling a change in public
voters. We might lose heart, believing the lie that the
sentiment. New opinions now flood the national debate
system is forever rigged against ever truly embodying
surrounding health care, climate change and countless
the ideals it was meant to exemplify: justice, equality
other issues threaten to challenge the status quo. Those
and democracy. Or, we can choose to take action.
who are threatened by the existence of true democracy
Earlier this year, 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial candidate,
aimed at taking
resort to voter suppression.
away their right
A REASON TO VOTE: ORGANIZED ATTACKS BOTH
Abrams’ inspiration for the campaign was born after
FOREGN AND DOMESTIC
widespread voter suppression was exposed in the 2018
and their reason
After decades of struggle, protest and pain, the combined
Georgia Gubernatorial race. Her campaign is just one of
effect of the continued attacks on Black Americans’ right
the many ways to get involved in protecting the sacred
to vote is a feeling of defeat. Even the giant strides we’ve
right to vote. Check out our blog to find a list of websites
made as a nation no longer stand as they once did. In 2013,
you can visit to find more ways to fight voter suppression.
the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting
You can also find a condensed version of Ohio’s voter
Rights Act, the preclearance provision, that required
registration laws to take with you on election day. Dr.
states with long histories of voting discrimination to
Martin Luther King said it best,“Our lives begin to end
recieve approval of new voting laws. This opened the
the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Stacey Abrams, launched the FairFight campaign, aimed at combating voter suppression in future elections.
door for strict voter requirements, largely aimed at
THEVINDI.COM | 42
COMING OUT WRITTEN BY
Briana Elise Ever had a secret You desperately wish to tell About a thought or feeling You knew so well Kept behind your lips because of the haunting fear That someone or something evil lurking would hear Then everyone would know what you tried so hard to keep You put the thought in the back of your mind So it’ll be out of reach And won’t defeat Everything you worked so hard to hide And keep inside Then pointlessly you decide To confide
Ever had a secret
In a friend or two
Cuz if not you don’t know
Yet the people you want to tell You can’t imagine how they’ll look at you
but couldn’t tell a soul How it feels to not show The real you But some do Do you know how it feels When you have something to say And must keep it to yourself Oh the games you must play So what you know will remain hidden In the deep depths of your soul Ever had a secret you wanted to tell But even you wished you didn’t know?
OCT 31 WRITTEN BY
The cognac colored fringe fros about underneath the suede sleeves of your cowboy costume as you frantically fling your arms around, angry with me for the thousandth time this week. The tender tone you had on the phone tappers away as you bitterly berate my carefully chosen attire: “You can never follow instructions.” The statue of my face fractures, my optimism obliterating “I told you to wear a nice cowgirl costume. You look like a slut.” Your locution lacerates me, a new wound forms. “What were you thinking? Do you want guys to hit on you?” No, I love you. My throat thickens, withholding this thought. “It’s practically a hooker outfit. You’re such an attention fiend.” Five hours and fifty-five dollars to make you happy, gone to waste. “You’re not going anywhere dressed like that. Go change.” I turn toward the door of the house, hankering after remnants of dignity. “And hurry up, or we’ll be late!” Walking up the stairs, I wonder: When did my purpose become pleasing you?
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