The Vindicator - October 2019

Page 1

Vindicator Cleveland State University’s Arts and Culture Magazine

OCT 2019


DRAG TAKEOVER of Cleveland PAGE 23



READ THE VINDI * ON YOUR IPAD Here’s How: Download the ISSUU app at the App Store and search for The Vindicator. Visit for more information.



what’s in this issue? 3

Check Us Out Online




Letter from the Editor


Meet Our Contributors

Drag THE



Arts 7




Get Hipped



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


Poetry 43

Coming Out by BRIANA ELISE



Social 39

Your Money Your Choice by THYRA CHANEY


Visit to see our complete slideshow from “The Drag Takeover of Cleveland.”

A Most Sacred Right by RENEE BETTERSON




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?


@vindi_csu stay up-to-date with all things Vindi on Instagram



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


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





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.




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



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.


MARCH 2019

AFROPUNK is a place where you can be who you are without any repercussions or backlash.



No Sexism, No Racism, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Homophobia, No Fatphobia,

No Transphobia.

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


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

ous issues.

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.

MARCH 2019




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-

It’s often

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

another one.

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






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


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 life.

my grandma, as we have Skyped and video called for THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 14





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.


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-

When you

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

taken the

about this media? There are so many approaches to criticizing media and analyzing characters that it is impossible to write a

first step

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

bi people.

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.





Nguyet Vo

Everyone is beautiful, but not everyone thinks so. Body positivity has been becoming more outspoken, but fat-shamers are also on the rise.



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, 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

... treasure

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

and help

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.

who don’t.

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.


Grace Robertson


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


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

and mistrust.”

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.



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.”



Drag THE





Amanda Light

Max Torres

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

Grog Shop.

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

vibes have

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

been the

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

for my

“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

every last

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



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 it’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

around Cleveland?

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



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

in the

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.



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.

Let’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

back, do

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

and no

one else.

When did you start producing/ hosting drag events

alive and growing it feels like. We're a small little family

around Cleveland?

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

Mariah Carey

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



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Laura Manning


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,

ever since.

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.







sized panties and bralettes for as low as even $20. On

Imani Stephens

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




Thyra Chaney

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-



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

The key

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

is to

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

your money.











Renee Betterson

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


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



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

presidential election.

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


Abrams’ inspiration for the campaign was born after


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.”

to vote.

Stacey Abrams, launched the FairFight campaign, aimed at combating voter suppression in future elections.

door for strict voter requirements, largely aimed at





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?



Victoria Graham

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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