The Vindicator - March 2020

Page 1

Vindicator Cleveland State University’s Arts and Culture Magazine

MAR 2020

BREAKING

THE MOLD PAGE 21

TOUCH CLE LLC A WORKING WOMAN IN CLEVELAND

+

THE WOMAN BEHIND

THE WOMEN’S CENTER


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MAR

21 what’s in this issue? 3

Check Us Out Online

4

Calendar

5

Letter from the Editor

6

Meet Our Contributors

BREAKING

THE MOLD

Arts 7

BY RENEE BETTERSON

Art of Sucre: Creative Cotton Candy by MEGAN BARANUK

9

Little Women in the 21st Century

Culture

by SAMRA KARAMUSTAFIC 11

Five Women Artists You Should Know 13

by ODILIA GRAMAJO

Imposter Syndrome and How to Fix It by DOROTHY ZHAO

15

Women’s Empowerment by TYISHA BLADE

19 Beauty + Wellness 25

Realistic Sex & Netflix by JOSCELYN ERVIN

27

Refugee to Hijabi Model by MARIA AHMAD

WORKING WOMAN

IN SOCIETY BY TYISHA BLADE

Social 29

17

Inside the Mind, Body and Soul of the Female Student Athlete by CHELSEA PENFIELD

Poetry 35

Still I Rise by MAYA ANGELOU

37

Helen Keller by LANGSTON HUGHES

31

Trans Women Abuse in Detention Centers by JESSICA LYNN NICHOLS

33

How #MeToo Changed Our Lives by CLAUDIA UGBANA

The Woman Behind

THE WOMEN’S CENTER BY AYANNA CASH

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 2


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“During a career spanning over 40 years, Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist, reporter, author, and Cleveland native, Leon Bibb continues to lead the way for today’s African American journalists... his work includes an interview with Martin Luther King’s assassin...” — KYRA WELLS

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w h a t’s h a p p e n i n g i n

M A R C H 5/5 Trivia Night

The Press Club of Cleveland - Grab a group of your smartest friends from your newsroom, office or neighborhood and join the Press Club’s Trivia Night! Everyone is welcome to participate. Guest professional trivia master: Michelle Sustar.

5/6 MIX: Masquerade

Cleveland Museum of Art - Check out masks from around the world in the galleries and make your own Mardi Gras style mask. This night will feature bright costumes and a swanky New Orleans party vibe with DJ Walk and Da Land Brass Band of GUMBO dance party.

5/6 LIZZO Experience

6–10PM, 11150 EAST BLVD, $10-$15

5:30-8PM, 1849 W 24th ST, $9-$35

5/16 St. Patrick’s Cookie Decorating Class

Twist Social Club - Blame it on the juice all night with all of Lizzo’s video hits, collabs & performance clips along with hits from Cardi B, Beyonce, Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, Halsey, & more! Cocktail Specials all night. No Cover. 21+ 9PM–2:30AM, 11633 CLIFTON BLVD

5/21 Drawing Rally!!

A Batch Made in Heaven - All levels are welcome to join in the St. Patty’s Day fun! You’ll learn the basics of cookie decorating. Each participant goes home with six (6) flooded/ decorated sugar cookies. Registration and doors open at 5:30. Registration must be purchased in advance. Ages 12+

SPACES - Cleveland’s freshest artists will create new artworks on the spot. When the drawings are completed, they will be hung on the walls for purchase at $75 5-10:15PM, 2900 DETROIT AVE, $0-$10

6-7:30PM, 7901 CLEVELAND AVE NW THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 4


EDITOR’S LETTER

The Cleveland State Vindicator was founded as a Black student newspaper in January 1970.

T

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH he contributions women have made to history and

Culture Editor Briana Oldham and Distribution Coordi-

society can be celebrated during Women’s History

nator Katheryn Lewis as they have transitioned well and

Month in March. While these accomplishments

have helped tremendously thus far in the school year. We

should be celebrated year-round, special regard is

also want to thank our new writers and designers who

taken during the third month of the year to acknowledge

are beginning to consecutively contribute to the publi-

strength among women and embrace each other as we

cation. The Vindicator would like to make a special trib-

unite. We are mothers, daughters, aunts and professionals.

ute to MareyJoyce Green, who recently passed away in

We are community leaders, family nurturers and able to

2019. A professor of sociology and advocate for women’s

withstand great pressure. We are elegant, poised, sassy, rights, she made notable contributions to Cleveland rough and bold. We are women. In this issue, you will find

State University. She is also the namesake for Cleveland

great articles about women in arts, working women in

State’s Women’s Center. Her work in the community was

society and women’s history. You can also find stories on

profound. She will be greatly missed. The Vindicator has

a hijabi supermodel, perspective from a student female

dedicated a feature to her, written by one of our newest

athlete and more.

contributing writers, Ayanna Cash.

As we share with you our second issue of the semester, we would like to thank our new staff members Copy Editor Kevin Coleman, Online Content Editor Vincent McIntosh,

TYISHA BLADE EDITOR–IN–CHIEF

5 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

Faculty Advisor Julie Burrell Web Specialist Daniel Lenhart

MEET OUR

CONTRIBUTORS STAFF HEADS Tyisha Blade Editor–in–Chief

Imani Stephens Managing Editor

Kevin Coleman Copy Editor

Alexia Carcelli Art Director

Kyra Wells Asst. Art Director

Max Torres Multimedia Manager

Vincent McIntosh Online Content Editor

Joscelyn Ervin Arts Editor

Briana Oldham Culture Editor

Megan Baranuk Beauty Editor

Dorothy Zhao Social Editor

Brenda Castañeda Yupanqui Features Editor

Katheryn Lewis Distrubution Coordinator

WRITERS Megan Baranuk Samra Karamustafic Odilia Gramajo Dorothy Zhao Tyisha Blade Ayanna Cash

JUNIOR DESIGNERS Renee Betterson Joscelyn Ervin Maria Ahmad Chelsea Penfield Jessica Lynn Nichols Claudia Ugbana

Maria Ahmad Stefany Belasic Erin Butkiewicz Asha McClendon

Alexandra Paquin Miranda Lynn Tulcewicz Derek Prince Wilson

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


ARTS

CREATIVE COTTON CANDY

WRITTEN BY

Megan Baranuk PHOTOS COURTESY OF

Emily Harpel

Meet Art of Sucre and the woman behind the business, Emily Harpel. The creative cotton candy company was created in Cleveland.

E

mily Harpel, founder of local cotton candy company Art of Sucre, was inspired to start the business after noticing the lack of gourmet cotton candy services in Cleveland. Art

of Sucre specializes in creative twists on the classic treat. Gourmet cotton candy is not something one hears of often, and Harpel took a leap of faith by starting her business immediately after her honeymoon. Featuring flavors such as champagne, watermelon and sugar cookie, Art of Sucre is anything but basic. The company also features new innovations for cotton candy such as edible glitter and glitter bombs (glitter cotton candy dissolved in champagne). One quirky service they offer is mannequin

heads topped with a beehive hairdo comprised of cotton candy. I first came into contact with Art of Sucre while planning an event for Cleveland State University’s Campus Activities Board. I wanted to have cotton candy catered to Cleveland State for Homecoming Week and I was surprised to find Art of Sucre’s website. I was thrilled to find all of the aesthetically pleasing pictures and delighted at the abundance of options. After contacting Harpel, I received an affordable quote. The entire process was easy and quick, so it was no surprise that Harpel came to the event on time and provided a great time to the students who participated. The cotton candy was not only beautiful in its soft, cloudlike appearance, but delivered on the promise of amazing flavors. Unlike the gritty taste of traditional cotton candy, this cotton candy is light, healthier and definitely delicious. The service and the product exceeded my expectations and Art of Sucre became a regular for my events on campus. Harpel’s warmth and kindness radiated throughout the event. It was obvious that she is someone who chases her passion and builds strong relationships with people she comes in contact with. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Harpel about her business. It was a pleasure, and she was every bit as sweet as her cotton candy! I know you started this company after finding inspiration on Pinterest for cotton candy while planning your wedding, but what inspired you to start your own business? EH: I grew up without a traditional family, in the sense that neither of my parents worked a 9-5. My dad had his own business and when I got to middle school he started another one - and another one - so I always joke that it’s in our blood. Most kids grow up thinking starting a business isn’t a normal thing to do, but it was really all I knew. My degree

Visit artofsucre.com or follow

is in psychology and my plan was to start my own

Emily on Instagram @artosucre

practice, so this wasn’t really that far off. My origi-

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MARCH 2020

nal degree was going to be graphic design, so I have that creative background, where I knew a creative outlet was something I was good at, and something that would make me happier in the long run. Always having that mindset of seeing things and turning it into a business is something that I have always had growing up . What was it about cotton candy specifically? EH: This is not a fun answer, because I don’t like cotton candy. That’s a really weird thing to say out loud, and when I first started, I was like, “I don’t want to lie to people.” Even to this day it feels so weird to say that. I saw the need through planning my wedding. Cotton candy is so unique, it’s not like cake, cake pops, or brownies because people actually get to see it happening. It’s also interactive, so it’s much more of an experience than your typical wedding or event dessert. I saw an opportunity there and it was creative enough that no one in the area, or even the country, was doing anything like it. There are so many creative outlets you could go with cotton candy that it was enough to be its

It was a

own business.

pleasure,

What is your favorite part of the business?

and Emily

so many people that I never would have been able to meet without this, whether it’s for 30 seconds while spinning a customer’s cone, or people I meet through business in the area. Really getting to fall in love with my hometown city has been incredible. No one has any clue the gem we have in our backyard, and it’s something I am so passionate about now. Through my job, I have gotten first hand experience and have gotten to know the people that make Cleveland what it is. What is prep like? EH: That’s what we mainly do at the studio. I have Wendy, who is my studio help. She helps me clean

tions, its clients that come to us. The cotton candy

was every

mannequin hair that we do was a client’s idea. A lot

bit as

also get inspired by things we see, or things people

sweet as

people love to get involved or share, which I love.

her cotton

What advice do you have for entrepreneurial stu-

candy!

EH: This is the most cliche advice, but just start.

of times, it is my ideas and my team’s ideas, but we ask us. It’s funny, when you own a business, so many

EH: Definitely meeting people. I have gotten to meet

dents? Even if it’s just securing the Instagram handle, or getting the LLC. Take that first step, because I’m telling you it’s the hardest. Reach out to people. It’s my favorite thing when people reach out to me and ask for advice in starting a business. People appreciate

all the dishes, mix all the sugar, make all our bases,

that, and if they are passionate about what they do,

and it’s all custom. We can have a purple sugar

they are going to give you all the advice they have.

cookie flavor someone wants Friday, and then get a pink sugar cookie flavor someone wants Satur-

What are your plans for the future?

day. Its making that, prepping that, cleaning the

EH:

carts, equipment, we do all our favors in house,

things in the works. The first thing is franchising.

we have orders, glitter bombs, and a lot of times

I want to branch out to different cities, but still be

people will do those together. We will have an order

corporately owned. The reality is, it’s hard to start

of containers for the event as well as spinning at

in the beginning, but to give someone the freedom

the event. So, it’s making sure everything is made

that I now have I think we would be amazing. I

and preparing the carts and bags so the employees

would love to see our stuff on store shelves. I have

know which set of equipment is for them.

a connection at Dylan’s Candy Bar, but we need to

There’s three different ways that we have

nail down our packaging. Ultimately, getting to that How do you come up with all of the creative enter-

wholesale level is a goal as well.

prises the company does? EH: A lot of times, and this goes with being creative with projects, services, flavors, and customizaTHEVINDI.COM ­­ | 8


ARTS

LITTLE WOMEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY WRITTEN BY

Samra Karamustafic

Greta Gerwig’s adaptation strays slightly from the beloved tale, but for the better.

M

any of us recall the days of reading “Little Women,” a story that follows the lives of the four March sisters – Meg, Amy, Beth and Jo – as they navigate the ups

dards of the 1860s – and molds it into an empowering depiction of what it truly means to be a woman, but without the bodices and draping skirts. For this article, I’ve decided to focus on the reimaginings of Meg, Amy, and Jo’s character arcs, because Gerwig didn’t stray too far from Beth’s storyline in the novel.

and downs of growing up and finding their place in the world. Many agree that Louisa May Alcott’s best-selling novel has become a staple of many of our childhoods, as well as a withstanding emblem for love, family, and what it means to be a woman of any time period. And with Greta Gerwig’s recent remake of the age-old classic, it’s got us reminiscing on the good old days (except now we’re taking Buzzfeed quizzes to see which March sister we are while fangirling over Timothée Chalamet). If you were expecting Gerwig’s “Little Women” to be an identical rehashing of the novel, think again. With a few slight differences, she takes a story – which once conformed to the outdated societal roles and stan-

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MEG Let’s be honest: many of us probably thought Meg was the boring sister when we first read this book. She was the oldest, she was the most mature, she didn’t want to go on to become an actress, and she decided to get married first …. yawn. When are we getting back to Jo’s storyline, again? Well, Greta introduces Meg as the “leader,” but she’s far from boring; we’re given a glimpse into the love she has for dances, spending time with her family and friends and having fun. We also learn of her love and talent for acting while producing plays with her sisters. Unlike Jo, Meg isn’t interested in seeking the lime-


MARCH 2020

light, instead, she falls in love – and that’s okay, too.

isn’t an economic proposition, because it is.”

In one particular scene, before Meg marries Laurie’s

That scene alone paints an entirely different picture

tutor John Burke, Jo runs to her room and tries to stop

of Amy March than what we’ve been given in past adap-

Meg from marrying, suggesting the two run away and

tations - and one that we can certainly relate to. Like

become famous for their talents. Meg interjects with

Jo, Amy has dealt with her own struggles in making

just one simple but powerful reply: “Just because my

her way in the world. Although women’s rights have

dreams are different from yours doesn’t make them

improved exponentially since this novel was written,

unimportant.” These days, it can be easy to fall into a

women who watch this movie can still find solace in

trap of equating feminism with this belief that what-

Amy and her journey into not just being taken seriously,

ever you do, you shouldn’t want to get married and

but into claiming her independence and self-worth, too.

start a family. Gerwig takes this dynamic between Jo JO

get married and have kids or if you want to focus on

A favored feminist icon for decades, Gerwig’s Jo March

yourself and strive to get that dream job first – either

is still the same tomboyish, carefree spirit we’ve grown

one is okay!”

up reading about – and even more relatable than ever.

The film also made a slight shift into the personal

Near the end of the film, we see Jo, played by

struggles with which Meg dealt. Alcott’s novel mainly

Saoirse Ronan, as she sits with her editor to discuss

attributed Meg’s frustrations to adapting to motherhood.

her completed book. The camera pans back and forth

Meanwhile, Gerwig chose to emphasize her financial

as the two quibble over just what percentage of the

struggles instead, both before and after getting married,

profit Jo will receive. Jo, straight-faced and resilient

while being surrounded by richer friends. Gerwig doesn’t

on receiving the amount she prefers – and her editor,

forget to show how Meg evolves as she weans off any

exasperated and deciding whether to argue or to let

and all societal pressures from her wealthier peers.

the disagreement go entirely. Finally, they reach a

We as the audience can see when she realizes that

middle ground and we later see a gleaming Jo as she

what she has in front of her is more than enough. She

watches her book being printed through the window,

also realizes that she and John will try their hardest

like a mother gazing upon her child in the nursery of

to provide the best life they can for their children, no

the maternity ward.

matter what financial situation they may be in.

It may be a short scene, but it mirrors situations that many women deal with in the workplace today,

AMY

especially artists. You can probably recall the famous

One of the most talked about points that followed the

legal feud between Taylor Swift and Scooter Braun

release of “Little Women” this past year was that Amy

this past November, which led to the backlash against

was actually likable. As Slate writer Marissa Martinelli

Braun and the hashtag #IStandWithTaylor trending

points out, “Amy is a much more sympathetic figure in

everywhere. What

Gerwig’s adaptation than in others, where the story’s

in a legal dispute to win back the rights to perform the

lack of a villain means she sometimes falls into the

music that she wrote herself. By including this scene

role by default.” But, in this adaptation, Gerwig takes

to illustrate some of Jo’s struggles, Gerwig subtly

the time to not only develop Amy as a character (with

speaks out on the ugly truth of what goes on behind

strengths and weaknesses like any other human) and

the scenes for many women today, whether they be

also by gives us a glimpse into how mature and in-tune

entrepreneurs, athletes or artists. YouTube channel Be

she is with what it meant to be a woman in the late

Kind Rewind made a similar point along the lines of

19th century.

this ongoing “women in the workplace” discussion in

exactly happened? Taylor was

In one scene, a 20-year-old Amy discusses the idea

their “Little Women” analysis, saying, “through this

of true love and following her dreams with Laurie.

lens, Jo’s story is not just about employment, but also

Laurie questions why she would marry someone solely

taking women seriously, respecting their ambition and

for economical purposes and why she doesn’t become

compensating them correctly.”

a painter. To put it simply: Amy gives

Laurie a

Don’t let the fact that this is the eighth adaptation of

wake-up call regarding what it’s like to be a woman

“Little Women” scare you away from seeing this film.

in their time. She goes on to mention an array of hard

Gerwig’s “Little Women” not only prompts a discus-

truths, like how it would be nearly impossible for her

sion into struggles we as women still deal with today,

to earn a living on her own for herself and her family,

but also serves as the perfect celebration of being a

how limiting it is to her self-worth once she does get

woman and as a love letter to Louisa May Alcott herself

married (everything that’s hers would essentially go

for what she’s done. So, in honor of Women’s History

to her husband) and how he isn’t able to understand

Month: movie night, anyone?

...empowering depiction of what it truly means to be a woman...

and Meg to say, “Hey, it doesn’t matter if you want to

these truths because he’s a man in a man’s world. She ends her speech with a final, heartbreaking but truthful point: “So don’t sit there and tell me that marriage

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 10


5 ARTS

Women Artists

YOU SHOULD KNOW

WRITTEN BY

Odilia Gramajo

Game changers in the arts community

F

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) Known as the “Mother of American Modernism,” Georgia

ive years ago, the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) started a social media campaign called

#5WomenArtists

or

Women’s

of

in

History

honMonth.

#5WomenArtists challenges social media users to share art and information about artists that have left an impact around the world. The campaign’s purpose is to bring attention to the fact that, as artists, women have been underrepresented, undervalued, and neglected throughout history. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are five female artists you should definitely know.

11 | VINDICATOR

O’Keeffe was an American artist who created many innovative works of art depicting images of America through dramatic cityscapes and glowing landscapes – as well as flowers. O’Keeffe studied the techniques of many other artists, including Arthur Wesley Dow, who was one of her biggest inspirations. Through her learning experience, O’Keeffe was encouraged to develop her own technique which included a combination of abstract and realism. Georgia O’Keeffe was the first female painter to achieve worldwide acclaim from the general public. She received many awards including a Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Gerald Ford in 1977. Some of her most notable works include “Black Iris III,” “Radiator building – Night, New York,” “Blue and Green Music,” and “Summer Days.”


MARCH 2020

Gwendolyn B. Bennett (1902-1981)

Yayoi Kusama (1929-Present)

Gwendolyn B. Bennett was an African American

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese contemporary artist who

artist and writer who was a major creative force on

is best known for her sculptures and installations.

the Harlem Renaissance. Often overlooked as an

Kusama also engages in painting, performance, film,

artist, Bennett was a respected and accomplished

poetry and many other arts. Most of Kusama’s art

poet during her era. Gwendolyn Bennett helped en-

was influenced by hallucinations she had as a child.

ergize the Harlem Renaissance with her literature.

Kusama was born in Japan where she learned tra-

Some of her short stories include “Poets evenings,”

ditional Japanese painting style and later moved to

which helped many African Americans come to

New York City where she was inspired by American

terms with identifying and accepting themselves,

abstract impressionism and the pop-art movement.

and “Wedding Day,” which highlighted the effects

Yayoi Kusama became an art pioneer as she included

of different racial groups not getting along. Bennett

minimalism, performance, and action art into her

was also a teacher who helped nurture and foster

work. Some of her most notable artworks include

the talents of young African American artists. Al-

“Dots Obsession,” “Fireflies on the Water,” “Pump-

though she was more known for her writing, Bennet

kin” and “Infinity Mirrored Room.”

painted amazing artworks of landscapes. Some of her works include “Winter Landscape” and “Untitled

The artists mentioned above were each important

(River Landscape).”

in several ways. O’Keeffe was important because she was the first woman to really receive worldwide

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

recognition, showing other creators that worldwide

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter who achieved

acclaim was achievable for women. Bennett was

international success. Best known for her self-por-

important because she used art as a way to push an

traits, Kahlo was influenced by traditional Mexican

important movement that helped African Americans

folk art as well as European movements such as

gain recognition in the arts community. Kahlo was

realism and symbolism. Kahlo did not intend to

important not only because she taught young females

become a professional painter until after she was

to use art as a medium for self-expression, but

severely injured in a bus accident at the age of 18.

also because she is a feminist icon to many. Catlett

In order to cope with recovery, Kahlo used her time

was also important because, through her art, she

to paint and continued to do so throughout her

became an activist for the African American expe-

life to express her pain and suffering. Kahlo also

rience. Lastly, Kusama is important because she is

became interested in politics which led her to join

a trailblazer in contemporary art.

the Mexican Communist Party in 1927 where she

These five women came from different races,

met her husband Diego Rivera who inspired some of

backgrounds and education - and use different art

her works. Some of her most notable works include

mediums - but they have all impacted the arts in

“Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Humming-

one way or another. For centuries, female artists

bird,” “Memory, the Heart,” “Henry Ford Hospital”

were underrepresented, undervalued and neglected

and “Frieda and Diego Rivera.”

but these women were able to garnish attention for female artistry all around the world. These are five

Elizabeth Catlett (1915-2012)

artists you should know.

Elizabeth Catlett once said, “I have always wanted my art to serve my people—to reflect us, to relate to us, to stimulate us, to make us aware of our potential.” Catlett was an African American Mexican sculptor and graphic artist best known for her depictions of the African American female experience. As the granddaughter of former slaves, Elizabeth Catlett was very interested in the Civil Rights movement which influenced many of her works. She was a graduate of Howard University after being rejected by the Carnegie Institute of Technology due to her race. After receiving a grant from the Rosenwald

I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.

Foundation in 1946, Catlett moved to Mexico with her husband where she continued to work. Some of her works include “Mother and Child,” “Head of a Woman,” “Singing Their Songs,” and “I Have Worked Hard in America.”

–Georgia O'Keefe THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 12


CULTURE

IMPOSTER

SYNDROME AND HOW TO FIX IT WRITTEN BY

Dorothy Zhao ILLUSTRATED BY

Maria Ahmad

Or, at least, how to live with it. You aren’t alone when you feel like a fraud in a sea of successful people.

F

ake it ‘til you make it. That’s what everyone tells me. Even if I don’t feel confident or know enough to fulfill every qualification, that’s okay! And, besides, I’m qualified anyway, right? My resume

is two pages, I have a full-time job offer after grad-

uation and I’ve been selected as a valedictorian candidate of the Washkewicz College of Engineering. Every morning, I wake up and feel like I’m choking. Or drowning. Or losing. I feel this overwhelming urge to give up entirely on school, my career and my future. Imposter syndrome affects everyone, but especially high achievers and minorities. Anyone who has the pressure of accomplishing tasks for the first time in their family or generation can relate. As an Asian American woman in engineering, I especially felt isolated and like an imposter. I desperately wanted to belong and to be accepted by my peers and professors since the first day of class freshman year.

As a last semester senior, I worry about heading into the workplace this summer after graduation. I know I’ll feel hesitant and unsure of myself and my skills. I know I’ll probably think “I’m only here because I’m a diversity hire” or “I’m in this position of a software developer solely due to the fact that my abilities have been vastly overestimated.” In work environments, women have a tendency of judging their own performance as worse than they actually are or attributing their success to just luck. In the 1978 paper titled “The Imposter Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Inter vention” and w ritten by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, they define this phenomenon as an internal experience of “intellectual phonies.” They surveyed women who had “outstanding academic and professional accomplishments” but believed they are not actually intelligent. These women affected by the imposter syndrome reported having symptoms like generalized anxiety, lack of self confidence and depression. The women inter viewed think they’ve fooled those around them, despite their achievements. Clance and Imes enumerated four behaviors that maintains the imposter syndrome I thought were intriguing and enlightening. First, because the fear that one’s lack of ability will be discovered is always present, one studies and works diligently to prevent that discover y. There is a reinforcing cycle of worrying about one’s intelligence, working hard to cover up insecurities and receiving adequate grades or performance. I know I’ve gone through several of these cycles and the feelings of success are addicting, described the belief of thinking one could actually but fleeting. Clance and Imes succeed, then one would instead fail as that of a “magical ritual,” to which I agree. I can’t believe I can succeed, but I’m surprised when I do. It feels

13 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

almost superstitious.

plied to but didn’t get accepted into, the classes

Second, women choose to not reveal their real

I’ve gotten less-than-satisfactory grades in, and

opinions or ideas when asked to do so. Intellec-

t he e x per iences I’ve m issed as a result of my

tual inauthenticity, as mentioned in the research

introversion have all been mistakes and learning

paper, can manifest in intellectual flatter y. On

opportunities. Repeat after me: failure does not

some level, I could understand supporting someone

make me a fraud.

else’s ideas instead of my own—simply because I

Mike Cannon-Brookes is the CEO of Atlassian,

thought mine weren’t impressive enough.

a soft ware company he started with his friend

Third, charm and perceptiveness are employed

straight out of universit y. He is now a billion-

by women to gain the approval of superiors and

a i re, but he suf fers from i mposter sy ndrome,

peers. A woman makes it her goal to be liked and

too. He even gave a TED Talk about his imposter

to be recognized as competent. This behavior was

syndrome and how he used it for his own benefit.

something I strongly related to because despite

Cannon-Brookes starts off by stating he had no

what I’ve been told by those around me, I don’t

grand plan, and he’s felt for the past fifteen years

in any way. I have a hard time believing people who say so because they might have based their opinions on my other attributes. That begs the question, do I need outside approval? Shouldn’t I have confidence in my own abilities? The women of the study oftentimes believed true geniuses and innovators did not need validation. As a result, they themselves lacked integrity by engaging in the phony behavior of being charming. Fourth and finally, as long as one maintains the notion that one is not bright, one can avoid societal rejection. Clance and Imes cited previous studies t hat poi nted out how successful, i ndependent women can be viewed as unfeminine and suffer other negative consequences. This last factor of imposter phenomenon didn’t stick out to me as much as the others because I don’t necessarily fear being regarded as aggressive or masculine. If, or once, I become successful in my career, I would feel empowered enough to ignore certain parts of society that might judge me. Jessica Bennett, a journalist at The New York Times, points out imposter sy ndrome as more than just feeling like a fraud. Those experiencing the syndrome devalue their worth and undermine their expertise. I know I carried this dread for two

that he doesn’t really know what he’s doing most days. The co-founder of a multinational company describes being petrified someone would call him out and just guessing his way out of situations. He addresses his audience, saying you have to figure

Those

a way out of the situation you’re entrenched in.

experiencing the syndrome

enough, qualified enough to justify being there, yet, you a re t here,” he emphasi zed. Imposter syndrome isn’t a fear of failure or being unable getting away with something and a fear of being discovered. Cannon-Brookes, however, believes that

their

isn’t all bad. The feelings can have some benefit. He

worth and undermine

mentions multiple times in his TED Talk that as he introspectively looked into his own experiences of imposter syndrome, he tried to harness them for a force for good. He knows he isn’t alone because the assumption that successful people don’t feel

their expertise.

“You know you’re not skilled enough, experienced

to do it, necessarily. It’s more of a sensation of

devalue

like frauds just isn’t true. He encourages everyone

think I’m intellectually superior, creative or special

to keep trying and learning. Instead of freezing up, try to keep the conversation going. Successful people don’t question themselves—they question their ideas and knowledge. They aren’t afraid to ask for advice to hone their ideas. Cannon-Brookes concludes that it is okay to be out of your depth. Be aware of your imposter syndrome. So long as you

consecutive internships, thinking I was going to

don’t freeze but do harness the situation, you can

get fired at a moment’s notice by my manager. I

turn your imposter syndrome into a force for good.

tutored a family friend and didn’t even want to accept the check. I even believed on some level that I didn’t do anything meaningful enough in my internships and classes. However, we can f ight the imposter feeling. Know you’re not alone. Visualize success. Write down three things you’ve done well today. In fact, it helps me a great amount to remind myself what I’m good at. I won’t explain away or diminish my successes. It wasn’t just luck, hard work or other people’s help—my triumphs can come from just my innate ability or intelligence. At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I also must remember my failures. The internships and colleges I ap-

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 14


Women’s CULTURE

Empowerment WRITTEN BY

ILLUSTRATED BY

Tyisha Blade

Stefany Belasic

W

Women, Let’s Love One Another. omen’s

Empowerment

movement women

that

to

grow,

is

a

motivates learn

and

connect with each other. Doing

this, women can realize their greatest economic potential.

According

to

empowerwomen.org,

Canada and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, also known as UN Women, co-hosted an international conference in Oct. 2011 where industry leaders expressed

concerns

and

shared

experiences

to come up with solutions on how to increase women’s economic empowerment. The team then started an online platform designed to expand and display their findings. Since then, the initiative has become a global movement in more than 198 countries improving practices of community work both on and offline. Their mission has become “dedicated to empowering women to achieve their full economic potential by inspiring both women and men to become advocates, change makers and leaders in their community.” The movement “equips [followers] with resources, opportunities and a global platform that facilitates networking learning and sharing experiences.” Women’s Empowerment has created numerous projects including initiatives on women’s land rights, women’s

human

rights,

protecting

women

migrant workers, African women in technology

15 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

that’s how we do this.”

In an article on WTKR.com titled “Queen Latifah

Students enrolled into a course at Cleveland State

Helps Support Women’s Empowerment Through

University lectured by Adrienne Gosselin Ph.D.,

Richmond Summit,” the famed musician, actor

ENG 208 Womanism/Feminism, share a common

and entrepreneur used a speaking engagement

thought about women empowering each other

in Virginia to discuss the importance of women’s

despite the many adversities they face in society.

support for other women. At the Women’s Achieve

According to Natalie West, she noticed how women

Summit held at the Greater Richmond Convention

can be competitive toward one another while she

Center, she spoke to 14,000 audience members. She

was in high school. She also noticed how much

shared words of inspiration aiming to encourage

stronger the competition has become since she

other female leaders in their respective industries

entered her collegiate years. Tully Worron feels

to help their fellow women as well. “This will con-

that women have been seen as objects not to be

tinue to change people,” she said. “Hopefully in

taken seriously. She grew up watching realit y

a positive way and make women and young girls

TV shows such as The Bachelor. She saw that life

and even more seasoned women feel their power.”

was often a competition between women of who

During her speech she also encouraged her listeners

is the prettiest or the best. The class shared their

to cut off the TV, sit in their own power and realize

t houghts on how t hey t hi n k t his compet it ion

there are plenty of things they can do to inspire.

is unfair and how they would prefer healthier

Latifah, and other community leaders have taken

competitive norms.

steps to unite women in ways that strive to create

As women in today’s society, we are hard-

bonds and coach women to appreciate and help

working, determined and driven to success and

cultivate each others gifts.

accomplishing our goals. With the many obstacles

During the Women’s Empowerment Expo held in

t hat we face, we must cont i nue to b e st rong

Detroit in 2017, Taraji P. Henson, a famed American

individuals using our power to procure foundations

actress and author stresses the importance of

that lead to futures rooted in diligence. We must

wome n ne e d i ng ea c h ot her a nd m a i nt a i n i ng

also use this power to uplift each other. Personal

healt hy relationships. “It’s about us uniting,”

struggles and societal pressures attempt to deter

she said. “Men do it all the time. When it comes

women from obtaining our goals. In this instance,

to women, why are we always competing against

we ca n be a nchors of st reng t h for each ot her

each other?” Henson also mentions how it pains

unifying as an indestructible entity that inspires

her to see young women glorifying each other’s

others to do the same. We can respect, honor and

weak nesses instead of being a source to aid in

recognize the accomplishments of all women no

alleviating problems. “That’s not cute,” she said.

matter our differences. Too often does society

“You can’t do it without your sisters, and I never

create unhealthy competition among women. We

hate on another woman. Men break our hearts…

must break the cycle of negatively pitting women

the world is mean to us. Why should I give her that

against each other and use that competition in a

kind of pain when I am suffering from the same

way that empowers.

““

We must break the cycle of negatively pitting women against

each other...

there for each other,” she added. “Togetherness,

women to help uplift each other.

and more. These initiatives have inspired many

kind of pain that she is suffering from.” Henson also mentions how she loves to hype women up when she sees their successes. She notices how women can be so unhappy and incapable of giving or receiving love. “Empower and love yourself,” she added. “If you can hate on someone else, that means that you hate yourself.” Doing this, women also show others how they liked to be loved. Henson admits to having a special place in her heart for women, and likes to keep the women in her circle close. Henson’s loyalty to women doesn’t allow her to want someone else’s boyfriend or husband. She’s been a hurt woman before and refuses to wish pain on any other woman. “We have to be

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 16


FEATURE

The Woman Behind

THE WOMEN’S CENTER WRITTEN BY

Ayanna Cash PHOTOS COURTESY OF

Mareyjoyce Green Women’s Center

Showcasing the life that Mareyjoyce Green’s dedicated to others.

E

xtraordinary women are not uncommon throughout history. But women who have devoted their lives to researching, advancing and aiding other women are more of a rarity. Mareyjoyce Green is one example of those unique

women who were committed to uplifting and supporting others. As Black History Month ends and Women’s History Month begins, Green was an exceptional Black woman who pioneered for women’s advocacy and social justice and remnants of her hard work can still be seen today. Green graduated from high school at 15 and went on to attend Wiley College in Marshall, Texas where she became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She graduated with an undergraduate degree in Education and Sociology at age 19. In 1947, Green began working as a high school teacher but was quickly removed because teachers we required to be at least 21 and she was only 19 at the time. In response, Green began wearing her hair up to make herself

17 | VINDICATOR

appear older. This set the tone of Green’s life — when she

before returning to school. She earned a Ph.D. from Case

was faced with a problem she was not deterred. Instead,

Western Reserve University (CWRU) that focused on the

she responded with a solution.

sociology of poverty.

Born on May 31, 1928, Green was the third of eight children

Green went on to teach and create curriculum at Cuyahoga

born to Matthew and Preatha Bowie. Her obituary describes

Community College (Tri-C) and the Ashtabula branch of

details of her personal life including her upbringing. Her

Kent State University. In 1962, Green began heading the

childhood town didn’t even have a zip code so Green’s

Lakewood branch of the Ohio State University’s (OSU)

official place of birth was recorded as Yellowpine, Texas

Sociology Department. By 1966, she was overseeing the

— a nearby location to her actual birthplace. Green’s sister

Sociology Department at Cleveland State University (CSU)

Cora says while growing up, the siblings worked on the

— the first woman to ever do so. She also decided to teach

family’s farm “from sunup to sundown.” The family lived

modern dance when she discovered there were no dance

without running water or electricity.

classes offered at CSU. This ensured that a dance studio

Green graduated from high school at 15 and went on to

was built into the gym that was being constructed at the

attend Wiley College in Marshall, Texas where she became

time. Her obituary says that when Green saw a need, she

a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She graduated

would fill it and move on. This mentality was consistent

with an undergraduate degree in Education and Sociology

throughout her life.

at age 19. In 1947, Green began working as a high school

Green proceeded to establish multiple influential pro-

teacher but was quickly removed because teachers we

grams in Women’s Studies which echoed her devotion to

required to be at least 21 and she was only 19 at the time. In

women’s rights and social issues. One such program was

response, Green began wearing her hair up to make herself

Push to Achievement, which offered citizens who were

appear older. This set the tone of Green’s life — when she

receiving public assistance the opportunity to earn college

was faced with a problem she was not deterred. Instead,

degrees in order to become self-sufficient. This program

she responded with a solution.

helped over 130 students earn bachelor’s degrees.

Green married Charles Green and the couple relocated to

On top of that, Green served as a chair on Cleveland’s

Cleveland, Ohio. Once here, Green joined Epworth-Euclid

Women’s Equity Planning Project. This project included

United Methodist Church, became parents to Janet and

multiple organizations that aimed to assess the challenges

Wallace, and began her career as a dancer. She danced

women faced in the region and create policy reforms to

with the Karamu Dance Ensemble and gave dance lessons

tackle these issues. Green’s research provided ground-


MARCH 2020

breaking information about women’s status in society

experiences such as swimming lessons and theatre rather

and she worked hard to improve it. She earned the key to

than material items. Her children grew to appreciate her

the city for her hard work on this project.

strict parenting style, so much so that they have tried to

Furthermore, Green established the Women’s Com-

implement it with their own children.

prehensive Program and directed it for 20 years. This

Sadly, Green passed away on September 13, 2019, at the

program offered women in Corporate America a course

age of 91. Despite her passing, her legacy continues to live

that granted students the opportunity to shadow women

on through the MareyJoyce Green Women’s Center. Now

in management or community leadership positions. The

under the direction of Keller and located on the first floor

program also brought about the Women’s Studies major

of Berkman Hall in room 142, the Women’s Center offers

which was the first program in Northeast Ohio to offer Women’s Studies as a major. The Women’s Comprehensive Program also sponsored and directed two esteemed oral history projects which are detailed on ClevelandMemory.org. One project was The Oral History of Ethnic Women, which consisted of a series of interviews with 29 eastern European women, many of whom remembered World War II or the Great Depression. Another was the Women of Fenn Project, which focused on women’s contributions to the foundation of Cleveland’s Fenn College and provided an understanding of what it was like to attend a private co-ed urban college during the 40s, 50s and 60s. Green’s other accomplishments include serving as Interim Vice President for Minority Affairs and Community Relations, working as a member of the board of the Ohio Education Collaborative on women and children, taking part in the Ohio Women’s Policy and Research Commission, and being involved in Womensspace which eventually opened a shelter for homeless women and children.

uplifting support, services and resources to women who attend CSU. The center has continued to grow and evolve while remaining true to Green’s mission. Keller said the current logo of the center is “surprisingly similar” to

Be sure

the original logo created in the 1970s. Both logos feature

to get an

statements are also “incredibly similar.” Keller feels

education

of Green. The path to success is unique for every woman.

while

to cater to each individual woman and their circumstances

you’re

be for each particular woman.

getting

career: “Be sure to get an education while you’re getting

your

of all the opportunities offered to students beyond the

degree

and valuable information and experiences are offered to

leaves and symbolize growth. Green and Keller’s mission

Keller shared a phrase Green used often throughout her your degree.” Green urged women to take advantage classroom. Green understood that education was priceless students outside of the classroom. Keller stands by this phrase and also encourages students to “get engaged,

tributions. She was even invited to the People’s Republic of China, West Germany and England where she took part in an Oxford University Roundtable. Upon her retirement in 2008, the Women’s Center on campus was rechristened

sentatives for her many civic accomplishments and con-

Green and Keller understood that and tailored the center with the ultimate goal of success — whatever success may

All this hard work did not go unnoticed. On March 9, 2009, Green was recognized in the U.S. House of Repre-

affirmation that her philosophies are in line with those

— MAREYJOYCE GREEN

learn more and ask questions.” Mareyjoyce Green was as selfless and hardworking as they come. From a childhood town without a zip code to heading multiple sociology departments, creating life changing and uplifting programs for women, founding a Women’s Center, and raising a beautiful family — Green

as the MareyJoyce Green Women’s Center in her honor.

has achieved plenty to be proud of. She achieved multiple

Green was dedicated to helping others on and off the

lifetimes worth of accomplishments within her 91 years.

clock. Her obituary recounts the time her sisters found

She was extraordinary, to say the least. May the story of

“dozens of handwritten thank you notes attached to

Green’s life act as an inspiration to other women and con-

checks.” These checks were students making payments

tinue to ignite a passion for learning, growth, and success

on loans that Green had given “from her own pocket.”

within them.

Green never cashed any of the checks. Even with all of Green’s achievements, she was an extremely humble and private person, to the point that her colleagues did not know much about her personal life and her family was in the dark about what she did while at work. She was constantly focused on helping others rather than showcasing herself. Information about Green and her life is scarce online but, upon her passing, the current director of the Mareyjoyce Green Women’s Center, Jillian Keller and Green’s children Wallace and Janet were able to come together and piece the two halves of Green’s life together. Despite this separation, Keller says that Green was fully devoted to both. Along with being a hard-working professor and director, Green was an amazing mother. She emphasized the importance of education to her children and invested in THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 18


FEATURE

WORKING

WOMAN IN

SOCIETY WRITTEN BY

Tyisha Blade PHOTOGRAPHED BY

Emmanuel Wallace, Cleveland Scene Magazine Chardonnay Graham shares her struggles and success with Touch Cleveland LLC

C

hardonnay Graham recently celebrated a milestone. Her marketing consultation business, Touch Cleveland LLC, reached its fifth year of operation. Touch Cleveland LLC is an establishment that advocates for small businesses and understands that these types of businesses have

many needs. Graham decided to take an approach to helping startups that focuses on servicing small businesses, non-profits and public figures that have focus in community, business and overall economic development. According to touchcle.com, the organization is modeled as a collaborative specifically geared to support small businesses. Touch Cleveland LLC guides startups, and only services businesses that are centered on building the economy around them.

Currently residing in Euclid, the East Cleveland native mentioned that the reason behind starting her business was simple. “Life made me start this business,” she said in an email interview. “I graduated [from Notre Dame College] in 2011, the job market was still a mess—especially in the marketing industry. I searched for jobs for eight months and could not land a position in my field.” After venting to both of her mentors, she was advised to shorten her name to ‘Char.’ “It worked,” she said. “I landed my dream job which turned out to be a complete nightmare and when I found myself back out on the market again, I changed my name back to Chardonnay and made a decision then to always be myself and nothing less.”

Once again, she found herself struggling to find employment. Months had passed and she had no job leads, so she began to occupy her time with freelancing. After she landed a few clients, she decided to officially file her limited liability company (LLC).

19 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

zine photographer, Emanuel Wallace. Toward the

tries—entertainment, fitness and technology, to

end of her event, a video prepared by Graham’s

name a few. Once she developed her niche, she began

marketing coordinator, Kofi Amponash, brought her

attracting clients more fit to the mission of Touch

to tears as she reminisced on some of the struggles

Cleveland. “I’ve worked with The Cleveland Rowing

she encountered and the success that came out of it.

Foundation, Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival,

“I’d just like to say, although starting a business

Vineyards and Winery at Chateau Hough, Ingenuity

wasn’t my plan, it’s the best thing that ever hap-

Festival, and now currently, Fund for Our Economic

pened to me,” Graham said. “I’m very grateful to

Future and Destination Cleveland,” she added.

have reached this milestone. This [fifth year] event

Touch Cleveland has blossomed into a successful

is more than a celebration, it’s a manifestation of

business in which Graham takes great pride. “I wake

dreams and plans written on paper five years ago.”

up and check my calendar, emails and social noti-

Graham also mentions that her business is proof of

fications immediately…which is actually a horrible

what hard work looks like and it’s the greatest form

habit,” Graham said. “On a good day, I manage to

of motivation that she could ever receive to continue

make it out to the gym and eat breakfast. I travel to

moving forward. She and her clients share great work-

my clients and work in their offices or wherever else

ing relationships as reflected in the results of their

I like inbetween.” She also mentions that her travels

labor. “Touch Cleveland is thoughtful, collaborative

keep her engaged in the field and more integrated

and passionate. They bring such a positive energy to

with her clients. “In the evenings, I’m either attending

each project and deliver results,” said Chief Strategy

an event or home continuing to work on some part

Officer of Destination Cleveland, Hannah Belsito on

of my business,” she said.

touchcle.com. “Touch Cleveland seamlessly integrated

Touch Cleveland uses the power of marketing to

with our internal team making the project incredibly

influence and push initiatives that aid in communi-

collaborative and fun,” Belsito added. Masfield Fra-

ty and business development. “Respectively, as we

zier, General Manager at at Chateau Hough Winery,

build and connect with the entities in these sectors,

believes that, “Touch Cleveland does exactly what its

we educate and guide entrepreneurs with not only

name implies. They show you how to collaborate with

marketing expertise, but also with the information

parts of Cleveland you wouldn’t otherwise touch.”

and resources we already promote for our clients,” she

(Also on Touch Cleveland’s website.)

said. Graham hopes to be the center of a connection

Graham would also like to help college students gain

between smaller enterprises and larger corporations.

experience in marketing and public relations. She

As a bonus, Graham’s business now has the freedom

is accepting applications for students to intern

to consult and guide startups without the eagerness

at Touch Cleveland. Interested students

to sell them services. She also recently filmed her

can apply by emailing their resumes

first episode of a web series, “Unspoken.” The web

to brand@touchcle.com. The po-

series features discussions on issues that are affecting

sitions require that students

business and the community.

be a junior or senior in

For Touch Cleveland’s fifth anniversary, Graham

marketing, public re-

hosted an event on Jan. 29 at Social A Loft located in

lations or com-

the Hotcards building. Her closest friends, family and

munication.

colleagues joined her to celebrate her accomplishments and embrace Graham and Touch Cleveland LLC. On the menu, spinach dip with veggies, cucumber shrimp bites and mini caprese cups, all catered by Chef Vell. Glasses of wine from a local Cleveland winery, Chateau Hough, were offered with Flame as the red wine and Sassy as the white. Customized cupcake desserts were provided by Brittany Moguel, owner of The Sweetest Treat. Photos were taken by Cleveland Scene Maga-

—I made a decision then to always be myself and nothing less.

Her first few clients were startups in various indus-


FEATURE

BREAKING

THE MOLD WRITTEN BY

Renee Betterson

How one woman’s vision is helping to shape a generation of Black Lawyers through access to elite legal education.

T

he 15th annual National Black Pre Law Con-

College of Law, came to set up tables and recruit

ference and Law Fair took place at Columbia

new students. When the conference ended, hun-

University in New York City on Nov. 8-9, 2019.

dreds of young, aspiring Black lawyers left Columbia

Hundreds of students gathered from across the nation

University with the knowledge and connections that

to hear from world renowned speakers and judges and

can help them to break through the glass ceiling that

to benefit from workshops on subjects ranging from

prevents many people of color from entering the elite

legal education financing to law school applications.

world of legal studies and practice. The mastermind

Since the conference began in 2015, over 7,000 stu-

behind this revolutionary conference is Evangaline

dents have registered to attend and participate in a

Mitchell, Esquire. She was kind enough to share a few

variety of workshop opportunities and networking

words with The Vindicator about her journey toward

events, all of which are designed to bring students

making law school more accessible.

together and connect them with the resources they

21 | VINDICATOR

need to successfully navigate law school admissions

Who is your role model and why?

and legal careers. Attendees also had the opportunity

I don’t have any one role model, honestly. Any per-

to hear from legal professionals, law school deans,

son I see or hear about, particularly Black people,

attorneys, and judges in a series of panel discussions

famous or not, who is walking in their purpose,

such as, “Inside the Careers of Black Lawyers,” “The

working towards or in their calling to benefit others,

Black Law Students Survival Guide,” and more. After

who is doing so with excellence, integrity, grace and

the talks, students were invited to participate in a

humility and who has a passion for leaving a legacy

law school fair where hundreds of schools, including

and making a difference however they can — that is

many top universities like Harvard and Yale as well

a role model to me. People like that force me to push

as Cleveland State’s very own, Cleveland-Marshall

to do and be better.


MARCH 2020 2019

When did you know that you wanted a legal career? I made the decision that I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer when I was a high school student at 16

Evangaline Mitchell

years old. I watched a PBS documentary series called “Eyes on the Prize.” After learning so much about the struggles of African Americans and the American Civil Rights Movement, that I didn’t learn in school, I felt that it was a call to action in a sense. That, coupled with watching some eye-opening Black movies at the time, compelled me to feel that I personally needed to “do something” to fight for our community. I had always had that tug and pull to make a difference in the African American community. I remember saying that I would be a lawyer and a filmmaker. I felt that by becoming those things, that would provide powerful tools to be able to make an impact in some way. What was the biggest challenge you faced in your professional development? As a first-generation college graduate and law school graduate, my biggest challenge in trying to figure out my career path was not having any direct mentors. I had to fight an internal battle of what I thought I wanted to do, what other people expected me to do and what I really felt in my gut I should be doing I had to be willing to listen to myself — my spirit and heart, and be able to go out and do the research and make things happen — even when I was unsure if it would all work out. We call it trial and error or learning things the hard way. I purposely didn’t choose the traditional path, and that made things even harder. I think young people these days should know that we are thing if you are willing to do the research, plan and execute — and most importantly — do whatever it takes to get things done and simply stick to it, even when it gets really, really hard. Also, I had to have confidence in my vision. The things I wanted to do were not traditional and not something you saw other people doing at the time, but I kept moving forward and stayed focused on my vision — not worrying about what other people were doing and what other people thought. Back when I was in law school, I made a decision to earn a Ph.D. I knew I wanted to write a book and create a film. I ended up becoming a licensed attorney, social entrepreneur, book writer and self-publisher, conference organizer, non-profit founder, executive director and now filmmaker. All based on my passion for demystifying law school for African Americans. That wasn’t something that people aspired to do at that time. All of this came out of my following my gut. Where do you find inspiration to push the boundaries of societal expectations in education and professionalism?

I’ve set for myself. When I look at our ancestors, I know that they had to endure a lot of pain and humiliation, and yet they fought for us, for me and I am indebted to them.

I had always had that tug and pull to make a difference in the African American community.

now in the Information Age. You can do just about any-

I have a responsibility to the next generation and I wholly welcome and appreciate that — even with the tears and bruises that come along with my calling to do more for aspiring Black lawyers. All of those who had to come before me, who had to live through times where our nation’s laws had created and enforced a system that oppressed us and treated us as property and not as whole human beings. Even my parents grew up in poverty and segregation and my mother has shared stories about having to go wait in the back of restaurants and going to poorly-resourced schools, etc. She was told that college was not an option because she was poor and Black. I’m now able to tell my children that the sky’s the limit. Opportunities abound and they can even create their own businesses. All of those people before me — they are my inspiration. Knowing that I can play some small part in leaving a legacy to help others inspires me to keep going every single day.

Faith in God and a courageous and risk-taking spirit be-

What advice would you give to young, Black lawyers who

cause of that faith. I know God has my back. I know that

are just getting started?

I don’t want to be old talking about what I should have or

Go out and seek mentors and get a peer support system

would have done. I don’t want to live a life of regret. I want

so you can connect with others with similar goals who can

to at least try and fail — knowing that our people had so

serve as accountability partners. Join your bar associa-

many more difficult things to overcome than the goals

tions, the major local, state and national bar associations, THEVINDI.COM THEVINDI.COM| ­­ |22 6


FEATURE

ed to help Black, first-generation pre-law students with dreams of becoming lawyers. The conference came out of my own frustrations and the many mistakes I made in

You are wanted. Your presence and your voice counts. Your success is our success.

as well as the Black bar associations — and get involved. Let people know what you want to do and find those who are willing to help you. Know that success will not come overnight. It is a process, but with everything you do and learn, you are transforming into a better, more skilled person and you have so much to offer this world. Keep getting out and meeting people. You have to connect with others who are also trying to be successful and those who have “made it.” Stay connected with those people, as opposed to trying to do everything all alone. Never ever give up on your goals and dreams. Be relentless. It’s okay to fall down, but just get back up and keep moving forward. You are needed. You are wanted. Your presence and your voice counts. Your success is our success. You, your achievements, all the things that you are doing and will do, matter and are significant. For African Americans, as a group, it is all about our community. Remember and take pride in that and know that, even if no one tells you to your face, we as a community embrace you, are proud of you, love you, see you, and want to see you succeed. Lastly, your law degree not only empowers you to work for others, but most importantly, it enables you to work for yourself. You have been trained in how to prepare and do research on your own. Those skills are invaluable for you to create and build anything you set your mind to. Create and build. Can you talk about the origins of the conference and the challenges you faced in making it a reality? I just simply had the desire to reach more of our people in a more tangible way. I was realistic in knowing that a lot of people probably wouldn’t read my thick books and there were so many people outside of me who had expertise, perspectives and experiences that Black pre-law students could learn from. When I created the conference, I had never really organized a big event before. I just made the decision to do it and then followed through. I had no idea whether or not the event would be successful. I didn’t know if people would show up or if I would get financial support, or whether it would have longevity. I just decided to do it, and I did. It has been going strong for 15 straight years without missing a single year — even [through] life-altering events such as marriage, two children, medical issues, etc. My only goal was to reach out and help students who had come from backgrounds like [mine], who didn’t have anyone as they were going through the process. I just want23 | VINDICATOR

the application process, during law school, etc. I [took] so many missteps. I didn’t do well on the LSAT, I almost didn’t get into any law school despite my straight A’s. There were so many things I didn’t know because I went through the process alone without any mentorship, advising or insider insight as to what I was doing. My primary goal was to bring aspiring Black law students together with those who were knowledgeable [and] who could give them access to the information, resources and connections needed so they could be more excellent, strategic and competitive law school applicants, students and graduates. I knew that people thought that many Black students were not competitive. I remember trying to explain to people that a lot of that had nothing to do with ability but simply not knowing what we didn’t know. I thought this event could play a role in letting us know what we were up against so we could have a strategy and a better understanding of what was expected so we could create a plan going forward. I think my goals have been achieved. In many ways, we’ve done well, but I think there is so much more potential there. I want us to do so much more. Since beginning this journey, you’ve organized 15 different conferences that have hosted thousands of students. Is there any particular moment or memory that stands out for you? However, the one thing that stands out the most is not necessarily one moment or incident. Whenever I receive an e-mail or a LinkedIn message from a former attendee who is now a law student or a lawyer and they share how the conference meant so much to them and is a reason why they went ahead and pursued their law degrees and succeeded, it lets me know that I need to make sure to keep things going — no matter what. Those “moments” stand out every time. It has been over 15 years. Truthfully, it hasn’t necessarily gotten any easier. Conferences always take an extraordinary amount of planning and effort. However, as long as there is this great need and you know that there is something that happens, particularly in our community, when we get good, credible information, and when we see those who look like us who are sharing because they want us to succeed, then I know that lives are being changed. That is the motivating factor to continue moving forward. Every single person we can help matters. I can’t speak for other communities. But the Black community needs it. If you can share, when and where will the next conference be held? Our next conference will take place Nov. 13 and Nov. 14 in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts.


National Black Pre Law Conference and Law Fair 2019

Looking ahead, what are your hopes/goals for the con-

know. Choose to make an impact and not just a living.

ference in the next decade?

Understand that you will reap what you sow. Make the

This year, we are incorporating a workshop on how to

decision to give and pour into others. Trust me. It will ab-

start your own law firm, ways you can make a difference in

solutely come back to you, even if you don’t see it right

Morton Mandel honors

your communities right now and we will expand our work

away. I sometimes look back and think about that “one

college for supporting my trip

on ways that Black people can utilize their legal training

person” who did make a difference in my life and that

to the conference last Fall.

to benefit and uplift the Black community. I also want to

“one person” who could have. Be that one person who

add some hands-on components — perhaps enabling

does. And always look at ways you can be a contributor

students to do a mini mock trial, moot court, client coun-

and not just a taker. Being this type of human being will

seling session, etc.

enable you to stand out and will open doors you may not

Additionally, we will be launching a mentoring program

even think to knock on.

I want to give a special thanks to the English Department and the Jack, Joseph and

because I want to make sure that every attendee has an assigned mentoring circle made up of a law student, lawyer and peer supporters who are also aspiring lawyers. I would like to have someone in place who is responsible for trying to check in and stay connected with our attendees to make sure they have information and support from us for as long as they are on this path towards earning their law degree. Despite the hectic nature of my own life, I am committed to doing more to try to make time to mentor more personally, and to have lunch and dinner with more aspiring lawyers. Every little thing helps. Further, I want us to do a far better job of keeping track with past attendees. We care and want to keep up with them and find out where they are now. With thousands of past registrants and attendees, that’s a big job. However, I want to be sure that we connect with our alumni, and have many more come back and give back by pouring into the new attendees for future events. Is there anything else you would like to share with readers? I think it’s important that we all strive for greatness. In anything you do, be it law school or anything else, make it about more than you. Have a spirit of service. Help other people in whatever way you can and with whatever you

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 24


BEAUTY + WELLNESS

25 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020 WRITTEN BY

ILLUSTRATED BY

focuses on health and beauty products. If you search

Joscelyn Ervin

Alexandra Paquin

“The Goop Lab” on Google, however, you’ll soon find out that basically everything the show highlights is pretty sketchy. So why bring it up? Well, there is one

Even though a lot of schools have lackluster examples of sex education, there are a few Netflix shows that can pick up some of the slack.

F

episode in particular that talks about the wonders of female masturbation that I wanted to bring to light. In fact, there are some reviews that trash the show overall but also highlight this episode in an attempt to discuss how female masturbation is addressed in the media. Similar to the one sexual harassment

emale sexuality and masturbation aren’t

scene in “Sex Education,” but with a more positive

usually popular topics. In fact, and I’m

angle, I was glad that a newly released show took

sure you know this if you’re a woman,

the time to focus on sex from the female perspective.

they’re viewed as being pretty shameful.

“Big Mouth,” a cartoon based around the lives of

Ohio, for example, is one of the 27 states

a group of middle schoolers, also explores female

that stresses the importance of abstinence until

masturbation with its characters Jesse and Missy.

marriage. That means that a little more than 50

“Sex Explained” is one of the shows on Netflix

percent of the United States refuses to acknowledge

that always looked fascinating to me, but I never

the benefits of a full, comprehensive sex education

really took the time to watch it until now. This is

curriculum. Even though a lot of schools have

a spin-off of the main show, “Explained,” which

lackluster examples of sex education, there are a

currently has two seasons and was released in 2018.

few Netflix shows that can pick up some of the slack.

“Sex Explained” released in the first week of 2020

Over the course of the last year or so, there have

and focuses solely on, you guessed it, sex. It only

been quite a few shows released that focus on sex.

has six episodes, all highlighting topics like birth

Sex has become less taboo in pop culture, but it’s

control, fantasies, attraction, etc. Unlike the other

still uncommon to find shows or movies that depict

two shows on our list, it is a documentary-style

realistic and healthy sex. Here are some recent shows

show that is more scientific than the others. While

that do a - mostly - good job at depicting realistic

“Sex Education” is completely fiction and “The Goop

sex and masturbation - especially with women.

Lab” is pseudoscience disguised as a documentary,

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

“Sex Education” is the first show on our list.

“Sex Explained” cites specific source material and

Even though I don’t believe it was initially created

interviews experts on each topic. It’s a nice change

to serve as actual sex education, I’m sure that it’s

and a better source of information on the topics

Where to Get Tested:

helping teens feel more open about the topic overall.

at hand.

gettested.cdc.gov/

The main character, Miles, and his 16 to 17-year-

Although these shows are breaking ground on

old friends have a lot of questions about sex and

mostly unexplored and generally taboo topics, they

Free Condoms for Ohio

relationships. Since their school is failing them,

should not be used to answer any serious sex and

Residents:

Miles and his crush Maeve decide to open a “Sex

relationship questions. I’ve always had the unfor-

ohiv.org/positive/free-

Clinic” - where they give their classmates sex and

tunate habit, like many others, to use Google as a

condoms/

relationship advice for a small fee. Miles’ parents

source for health advice and expertise as well. It

are very successful sex and relationship therapists,

isn’t a good idea to do that either. If you are looking

CSU Counseling Info:

so he knows quite a bit more than he should about

for some professional opinions about sexual health,

(Union Building 220,

both topics. “Sex Education” is forward thinking in

you can turn to Planned Parenthood, or find infor-

216-687-2277)

terms of realistically addressing how teens figure

mation at your doctor’s office. We’ve also taken the

out their sex lives. What really stood out to me the

liberty to add a few helplines and other sources of

CSU LGBTQ+ services:

most was a short scene in the second season where

information that might be useful.

(BH 211, 216.687.2324)

the main group of girls are stuck in the library to-

Even though sex seems like an abused topic some-

gether. They’re given an assignment to figure out

times, these shows are opening up the conversation

Ohio Sexual Violence

what they all have in common and the only thing

about sex and female pleasure from different angles.

Hotline:

that they can come up with is that they have all been

“Sex Education” not only addresses female mas-

844.644.6435

sexually harassed in some way. It was impactful,

turbation, but also how common it is to be sexually

thoughtful and got right to the point of the issue.

assaulted, in whatever form - from groping, catcalling

National Domestic

This is one of the first major times that a show has

and rape. “The Goop Lab,” however incorrect most

Violence Hotline:

addressed this topic so openly and directly. It made

of their science seems to be, is also exploring the

800.799.7233

a good impression.

realm of female sexual pleasure. “Sex Explained,”

Before I talk about anything related to this next

on the other hand, pushes forward with all types

National Suicide

show, you should know that “The Goop Lab” is not

of information about sex, like kinks, birth control

Prevention Hotline:

something I recommend watching. It’s a docuseries

and more. It may be more of a forbidden topic than

800.273.8255

about the company created by Gwyneth Paltrow, that

most, but sex is taking Netflix by storm. THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 26


BEAUTY & WELLNESS

HIJABI

SUPERMODEL

5 | VINDICATOR

PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES

REFUGEE TO


MARCH 2020 WRITTEN BY

Maria Ahmad

Celebrating the journey of Halima Aden from refugee to supermodel.

H

alima Aden has been adding diversity to the modeling industry and giving underrepresented Muslim women visibility by refusing to follow the typical beauty standards in today’s society.

Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after she and her mother fled the Somali Civil War. Her passion for beauty and modeling began as early as her time spent in the refugee camps where she learned to braid hair. After staying in Kenya for some time, Aden and her mother moved to St. Cloud, Minnesota. In her

Minnesota apartment, Halima would charge $10 to braid hair as a young child. In her youth, Halima succeeded both academically and socially, becoming the first hijab-wearing homecoming queen at St. Cloud Apollo High School. Hijab is

She aims

a term usually used to describe the head-covering and modest clothing worn by Muslim women. In addition to

to inspire

the outer covering of the body, hijab also has an inner meaning—the longing to be devoted to God and the

everyone

way one carries out their actions. Aden continues to devote herself to wearing her hijab as it is a part of her

to never

identity. While Aden attended university, she became the first Somali member of the student government.

be afraid

Aden also became the first Somali American and hijabi to compete in the 2016 Miss Minnesota USA pageant,

of being

making it to the semifinals. In addition to wearing the

yourself and

hijab, she became the first contestant to wear a burkini (full-body swimsuit) during the pageant swimsuit walk. Aden garnered national attention and was signed

to always

to IMG modelling agency, becoming the first hijabi

remember to give back to humanity.

model to sign with a major agency. Since then, Aden’s career has exploded into modeling for several large brands and magazines such as Fenty Beauty, Essence Magazine and Sports Illustrated Magazine. Aden continues to prove that modest Muslim women have a place on the runway and fashion industry. In 2017, she was on the cover of Allure US Magazine before appearing on the cover of British Vogue in 2018. Aden made another mark in history when she was featured on Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini full-body swimsuit. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit strives to show that your beauty

is defined by you, whether you choose to wear a twopiece or a burkini. In an article from the Daily Swim website, “Halima Aden Makes History by Becoming PHOTO CREDIT GOOGLE IMAGES

the First Model to Wear a Hijab and Burkini in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit,” editor MJ Day explains why she admires Halima and her understanding of beauty. “I admire Halima, and I consider her an inspirational human for what she has decided to use her platform for and her work with UNICEF (The United Nations Chil-

by her intelligence, enthusiasm and authenticity,”Day said. This year, Aden was also on the cover of Essence Magazine for its January/February issue celebrating her accomplishments as she is breaking down barriers and her achievement for being the first Black female on the cover of Essence to wear a hijab. Aden shows that fashion and beauty is not solely based on looks and trends, but from the beauty within. Beauty should not be attached only to makeup and clothes, but something that radiates from within to the outside world. It comes from the way you behave and carry yourself. Women are still beautiful even when covered head to toe. Aden encourages people to never conform to someone else’s standards, but rather to be your true self. Aden not only inspires modest Muslim women every day through fashion, but also has become an inspiration to help others. Since August 2017, she has been involved with UNICEF. She became a UNICEF ambassador in July 2018 after returning to her refugee camp in Kenya and sharing her story on TedX. Aden recalls the days when she was in the Kenyan refugee camp and how UNICEF workers used to make her feel more stable and secure. Aden is also executive producer of a film called “I Am You.” She felt compelled to be involved in the production of this film because when people think of refugees, they tend to think of people that want to cause trouble and incite violence. In reality, refugees are running away from violence they faced back home. The film tells a compelling story about a young refugee and recognizes that refugees are people, just like the rest of Americans. It also shows how many refugees are not choosing to leave for better lives, but are being forced to leave their homes. Aden also works with brands to promote sustainability and the promotion of equal access and opportunity to children around the world. She is currently collaborating with Bottletop’s #TOGETHERBAND campaign to help meet the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals. These goals will help make way for the ultimate objective of creating a healthier planet. The #TOGETHERBANDs are made from ethically sourced materials of varying colors to represent the Global Goals. Aden was featured on The Observer Magazine wearing her Goal 8 #TOGETHERBAND, which represents Decent Work and Economic Growth. She looks back on how she was featured in magazines all around the world and how she was able to walk on runways wearing the hijab. Aden believes “every child should have the opportunity to flourish.” Only four years in the industry, Aden has already accomplished so much. She aims to inspire everyone to never be afraid of being yourself and to always remember to give back to humanity. Just imagine how much more history she will be making in the near future.

dren’s Fund) as an ambassador. She is, in my opinion, one of the great beauties of our time, not only outside but inside. When we met, I was instantaneously taken THEVINDI.COM | 28


SOCIAL

INSIDE THE

MIND, BODY & SOUL OF THE FEMALE STUDENT ATHLETE WRITTEN BY

ILLUSTRATIONS BY

Chelsea Penfield

Miranda Tulcewicz

Confronting the high’s and low’s of what female athletes face on a daily basis.

I

t’s hard to describe the collegiate female athlete in simple terms, however, she is an enigma nonetheless. Whatever the sport may be, an athlete making it to the collegiate level is an accomplishment which is generally inspired

by something that comes from within. That fire and grit is something she takes with her throughout her journey of life. With all the empowerment that sports bring to female athletes, it can also bring insecurities such as the changing of the body, the affected body image and trying to keep up with the expectations of what a woman is “supposed to” exemplify during competition. From a very young developmental age, sports can empower and inspire young women. They bring confidence in the craft, and allows her to transcend what she learns from sports to everyday activities. At a young age, playing a sport could be described simply as just fun and games, but as she grows older, it moves into something of fierce competition. That competitiveness isn’t something that stops when she leaves the gym. Sports aren’t necessarily something you can pick up and drop off whenever is convenient for you. No - they are all encompassing. At the collegiate level, these feelings are only heightened. From practice to game play, not putting forth the best effort isn’t an option, and not getting the results you strive for leaves you restless for your next opportunity. Ultimately, these emotions can take a toll. With the constant thoughts of sports and academics on the mind, breakdowns are almost inevitable; at times it’s tough, but the reward is so much greater. Most collegiate sports require their girls to lift two to three times a week on top of a tiring practice schedule. As women, our bodies are ever-changing; that’s a fact. However, with the influence of a strenuous routine, the body’s muscles begin to grow in

29 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

Inherently, that’s what sports do: they push each other from one limit to

different ways. Parts of the upper and lower body

It is the job of the athlete to turn that pressure into

begin to bulge, and in the blink of an eye, you look

positive motivation that propels you to compete at

and feel like a different person. Part of it is empow-

the highest possible level.

ering; you can look in the mirror and feel confident

Women often find themselves bringing out a

that your hard work is paying off. However, it doesn’t

different persona while playing sports. An image is

always feel that way. Sometimes, the eyes only see

typically affiliated with women to be feminine, nur-

what needs to be improved. In the weight room, it’s

turing and soft. However, sports bring out different

not about getting in and getting out. No, it’s about

characteristics. We don’t care what we look like, we

working out your muscles so they can get stronger

care about the task at hand. We don’t focus on how we

and perform better in competition. Some girls are

behave, it’s our natural inclination to be aggressive,

dominant in the weight room, naturally out squatting

and we certainly don’t focus on what people think of

their teammates with pure organic strength. That girl

us. Our priorities are on our team and accomplishing

with the natural ability to lift heavier weights only

our goals. It’s simply who we are. We don’t apologize

pushes her teammates to work harder themselves.

for it. How could we? A woman’s identity shouldn’t

Inherently, that’s what sports do: they push each

be defined in simple terms. We are whatever it is we

other from one limit to another.

set out to be. In competition, we often look dishev-

Mentally, playing a collegiate sport has its ups and

eled with our hair falling out of its ponytail and our

downs. The overall experience is an extremely unique

sweat being absorbed into our jerseys. However, in a

opportunity that most people don’t get to have in

way, our sports are our sanctuary. The stereotypes of

their lifetime. For that, we are incredibly thankful

what we are “supposed to look like and the box that

for what sports bring. Staying mentally tough in

we “should” fit in can be demeaning, and refuses

all aspects of college life from academics, sports,

us the opportunity to unapologetically be who we

and social interactions can be difficult. Becoming

are meant to be.

overwhelmed academically can be easy. Traveling

Personally, being a female athlete at the collegiate

for matches is a part of playing a sport collegiately,

level is simply a dream come true. I know I can speak

and more often than not, we are expected to miss

for a lot of young athletes when I say playing a Divi-

classes but keep up with the work on our own time.

sion I sport is something many young people strive to

Getting mentally prepared for matches while still

achieve, but very few succeed. The female collegiate

actively working to stay caught up on class material

athlete is someone who wakes up each morning with

is a struggle in and of itself. At the collegiate level,

the attitude of prioritization and grit in all things

we have to learn to balance both. Athletically, our

she faces. Sports are empowering. They allow us to

sports can act as a relief as well as a stresser. The

drift away and for a few hours be someone we can’t

intensity, and most of all, the profound pressure we

be outside of our sport. It’s an escape from reality

put on ourselves to perform at the highest possible

and although at times it pulls on your feelings of

level is something that comes with time, and some

doubt, anxiety, and anger, it is fulfilling nonetheless.

learn to handle it better than others. Typically, the

Through all the hard work, and at times, pain, our

pressure we put on ourselves turns into anxiety before

sports uplift us in unimaginable ways.

games which can produce below average outcomes.

another.

“ THEVINDI.COM | 30


SOCIAL

ABUSE & INJUSTICE

AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER

WRITTEN BY

Jessica Nichols

The U.S. government enables transphobic violence. ICE is no exception.

O

31 | VINDICATOR

n March 31st, the last day of Women’s

killed a trans woman in self-defense from a sexual

History Month, we will recognize the

threat. Nor are our federal agencies held account-

Transgender Day of Visibility. The inter-

able. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement

section of these occasions should serve

abuses the undocumented people in their custody,

as a reminder of the intersectionality

the Trump-Pence administration continues to claim

of our activism. Feminism must be inclusive of all

that ICE is acting in the best interests of American

women. That means educating ourselves about the

safety and security. But there is no justification for

struggles within diverse communities. Year after

ICE’s actions, which have contributed to illnesses

year, human rights activists have recorded that trans

and deaths of those detained, including children.

women of color are the group most impacted by trans-

Any violation of human rights on this scale should

phobic violence. They experience the intersection of

be cause for outcry throughout the year. As we re-

transphobia, misogyny and racism, which not only

flect this month on the history of women’s rights

makes them the target of hate crimes, but also of

and our continuing strides towards equality, we

institutionalized discrimination. The Human Rights

must continue to call attention to the scope of the

Campaign has reported that trans people experience

abuse by ICE, which has resulted in the deaths of at

homelessness and poverty at far higher rates than

least two transgender women.

their cisgender peers. Both of these are contributing

Johana Medina Leon came to the United States in

factors to other dangerous circumstances. Trans

spring 2019, with hopes of being a registered nurse.

people are more likely to need medical care as the

She could not achieve her goal in her home country

result of hate crimes, as well as chronic conditions

of El Salvador because of the transphobia she faced

such as HIV/AIDS, but they are less likely to receive

there. When she arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, she

this care because of inability to pay for it, or even

was detained by ICE. She was held for some months,

outright discrimination from medical professionals.

CNN reports, before testing positive for HIV at the

All of these issues are exacerbated for trans women

end of May. Shortly after ICE released her, she died

of color, including Black women and Latinas.

in the hospital. She was 25 years old.

As in many cases throughout history, the legal

Medina Leon died one year following another death

system is not yet an accurate reflection of justice.

reported by the Human Rights Campaign. Roxana

In countless cases, murderers have received light

Hernández was an asylum seeker from Honduras. She

sentences, mitigated by the argument that they only

was the target of discrimination in her home country,


MARCH 2020

date, the National Center for Transgender Equality

died in ICE custody. NBC News later reported on the

makes a note of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’

official autopsy, which cited untreated HIV/AIDS as

decision in 2018 that gang violence and domestic

the cause of her death. The autopsy also identified

violence would no longer be considered as reasons

bruising on Hernández’s chest and fractures to her

for asylum. The impact of this policy is certainly

ribs. The New Mexico Office of the Medical Investi-

not exclusive to trans women like Medina Leon and

gator has concluded that her injuries likely resulted

Hernández—anyone, regardless of background, can

from attempts to save her life through CPR. After

be a target of gangs or a survivor of abuse—but it is

a second, independent autopsy by pathologist Dr.

understandable that the NCTE included it on their

Kris Sperry, activists at the Transgender Law Cen-

list. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, found in 2016

ter have argued that the injuries are signs of abuse.

that nearly 90 percent of Central American asylum

ICE has denied these claims.

seekers who are LGBTQ+ reported that they experi-

Months later, there is still no full explanation for

enced discriminatory violence while living in their

the deaths of either of these women. With so little

home countries. That asylum seekers choose to leave

public access to evidence, it cannot be known for

their homes in hopes of escaping oppression, only to

certain whether they were physically abused by ICE

experience further discrimination and violence from

officials. However, there is substantial evidence that

a U.S. agency, is appalling.

neither Medina Leon nor Hernández received the care

We cannot tolerate this cruelty from any entity, and

necessary for people with HIV, and that this neglect

we must refuse to reelect any politician who continues

was a contributing factor in both of their deaths.

to defend it. No person, group or government should

This is far from the full extent of transphobia in the

have the power to inflict violence as an instrument of

immigration policy of the Trump-Pence administra-

oppression without facing consequences. ICE has to

tion. Like Medina Leon and Hernández, many LGBTQ+

be held accountable, as does every official involved

immigrants are asylum seekers. Donald Trump has

in this policy of detainment, separation and abuse.

publicly questioned the validity of asylum claims in

Women’s History Month honors the legacy of the

general, and his administration has significantly

struggle for freedom and equality. If we do nothing

narrowed the nature of claim that can be recognized

to fight unjust policy, we will fall short of that legacy.

Months later, there is still no full explanation for the deaths of either of these women.

so she came to the U.S. for safety. In May 2018, she

as a reason to be granted asylum. In a report on all of the transphobic actions by this administration to THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 32


SOCIAL

HOW #METOO CHANGED OUR LIVES WRITTEN BY

Claudia Ugbana

It’s been three years since, and the movement shows no signs of slowing.

ILLUSTRATED BY

Derek Prince Wilson

T

arana Burke’s expectations of her activist group and slogan, #MeToo, were exceeded beyond a belief she could ever imagine in 2017. Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano, took to Twitter declaring #MeToo, in a tweet

that urged women to unite by using the slogan on their social media platforms. The widely recognized hashtag—previously created in 2006—gravitated through social media turning Burke’s more private activist group into one of the biggest movements to ever impact our world today. The #MeToo movement would overtake social media and every other media outlet as a result of one stor y, published in The New York Times by reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, on the


MARCH 2020

Numerous celebrities took the Time’s Up initiative

decades of sexual assault committed by hollywood

under their wing, joining several activists groups

producer, Harvey Weinstein.

and organizations directed toward sexual assault

Milano, Burke, Kantor and Twohey, although playing a huge part in its crusade, are not single

depletions. The movement also strives to battle

handedly responsible for the explosion of #MeToo.

hiring discriminations—not only in entert ment, but

It was the strength and honesty of the victims, the

in all hiring organizations across the world. Time’s

solidarity of mothers and daughters, teachers, and

Up calls for equal pay amongst men and women,

the media, who have made #MeToo what it is today.

diversity and inclusivity.

Entering its third year, #MeToo is still one of the

The variance of #MeToo is its accessibility to all

most trending hashtags used on social media to this

individuals of all languages and cultures. Although its

day. It is responsible for overall increases of sexual

origination began in the U.S., #MeToo has expanded

assault articles being published, and has contributed

to Europe, Asia, Africa and many more places across

to massive shifts in all industries worldwide. It is a force that has made our world “messy, imperfect, and urgent,” said sexual assault survivor and hollywood actor Ashley Judd in regards to the movement. #MeToo wasn’t strictly meant for just social media purposes, its intent is about empowerment and confidence building. Prior to its explosion, sexual assault had been a no-go topic of conversation in public spaces. Attached to sexual assault is the idea that women should be ashamed and afraid of their experiences. However, #MeToo has created a massive platform for further discourse that welcomes survivors. Its greatest impact has been its rejection

the globe. Sexual assault isn’t seemingly American, it exists in all places. Pew Research Center reported 29 percent of #MeToo tweets used within its reigning time periods were in multiple languages that weren’t English.

The movement

Where do we go from here? According to Burke, we have all been awakened into “a whole new world,” but the predictions of what’s next

would

for #MeToo is beyond the scope of our imaginations. One thing that seems to be certain is that it’s not

overtake

going anywhere. We have seen and can expect to see more court

social media

cases and even more convictions, as over 100 men

and every

specific to #MeToo since 2017-- in and out of the

#MeToo movement.

other social

in wake of the movement, we can also expect to see

#MeToo in the Media

society for decades. The idea that men can overpower, abuse, and silence women is being ridiculed by the

The “Year of the Woman” has been a three-yearrunning crusade most impactful in politics and media publications. Every major publication across the nation declared this sentiment in 2018, following through with 63 percent of all bylines published in the U.S. belonging to women, according to The Atlantic. This spanned into countless recounts of highquality investigative journalism that led to even more exposure of sexual assault crimes committed

outlet.

have been charged with allegations of sexual assault Hollywood industry. With current laws being placed huge changes in workplaces and meeting rooms. The movement has also transitioned into communal

media

settings, educating and administering aid to those in need. Burke tells media outlets she’s been working

of the toxic behavior we have watched reign over our

hard to increase revenue for resources needed for her activist group of the same name. Besides working directly with survivors, the group also helps train counselors across the country to help survivors within their own communities. Ultimately, we can expect to see more stories with

behind closed doors. Due to the media’s

user accounts that mention #MeToo and the horrific

influence, Weinstein is not the only culprit being

accounts of sexual abuse accompanying it. The

apprehended for decades of abuse. We are all

movement unveiled staggering numbers of women

familiar with household names such as R. Kelly, Bill

who have been sexually abused worldwide; women

O’Reilly and Bill Cobsy, who all appear to

who no longer wish to remain quiet.

be going down as well. The media was not only able to keep #MeToo afloat,

The famous saying “sometimes something bad has to happen before something good can,” has never

but inspired a series of other activist groups

been more precise as in the terms of #MeToo. The

and movements. One notably popularized movement

world has been immersed into a new space unafraid

is Time’s Up, an organization built within Hollywood

to say “time’s up.”

with the intent of putting an end to sexual abuse in the industry. This new movement was so positively accepted because it gave the so called “regular” individuals a chance to share their voices with big names in the industry by accompanying these celebrities as their dates to award shows and red carpet events. THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 34


POETRY

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise

You may write me down in history

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

With your bitter, twisted lies,

I rise

You may trod me in the very dirt

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

Why are you beset with gloom?

I rise

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

Pumping in my living room.

I rise

Just like moons and like suns,

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

With the certainty of tides,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

Just like hopes springing high,

I rise

Still I’ll rise.

I rise

Did you want to see me broken?

I rise.

Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes,

35 | VINDICATOR


MARCH 2020

THEVINDI.COM ­­ | 36


POETRY

Helen Keller by Langston Hughes

She, In the dark, Found light Brighter than many ever see. She, Within herself, Found loveliness, Through the soul’s own mastery. And now the world receives From her dower: The message of the strength Of inner power.

b 37 | VINDICATOR


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