Nineteen Fifty-Six Vol. 2 No. 5

This is the 2022 print edition of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "Movin' On Up" is inspired by the Black Panther Party.

This is the 2022 print edition of Nineteen Fifty-Six magazine. The theme "Movin' On Up" is inspired by the Black Panther Party.


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DEAR<br />

BLACK<br />


You do matter. The numerous achievements and talents<br />

of Black students deserve to be recognized. As of Fall<br />

2021, 11.16% of students on campus identified as Black or<br />

African American. Black students are disproportionately<br />

underrepresented in various areas on campus. <strong>Nineteen</strong><br />

<strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is a Black student-led magazine that amplifies<br />

the voices within the University of Alabama’s Black<br />

community. It also seeks to educate students from all<br />

backgrounds on culturally important issues and topics<br />

in an effort to produce socially-conscious, ethical and<br />

well-rounded citizens.

























Rachel Parker, Lyric<br />

Wisdom, Jolencia Jones,<br />

Shamiel Moore, Leah<br />

Jones, Ta’Kyla Bates,<br />

Jeffrey Kelly, Ja’Quacy<br />

Minter, Tonya Williams<br />

Anaya McCullum, CJ<br />

Thomas, Tonya Williams,<br />

Lyric Wisdom<br />

Karris Harmon, Asia<br />

Smith, Christian Thomas,<br />

Jordan Strawter<br />

Danielle S. McAllister,<br />

Farrah Sanders<br />

Special Thanks to Toni Taite, Kim Taite, and Ruby Booker<br />


<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> is published by the Office of Student Media at The University of Alabama. All content and<br />

design are produced by students in consultation with professional staff advisers. All material contained herein,<br />

except advertising or where indicated otherwise, is copyrighted © 2022 by <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Material<br />

herein may not be reprinted without the expressed, written permission of <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine. Editorial<br />

and Advertising offices for <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> Magazine are located at 414 Campus Drive East, Tuscaloosa, AL<br />

35487. The mailing address is P.O. Box 870170, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. Phone: (205) 348-7257.<br />

Pictured on the cover are Jaden Johnson, Shak Mullings and Ethan Jones. Cover photography by Tyler Hogan.


“<br />

When<br />

Black women stand up— as they did during the<br />

Montgomery Bus Boycott—as they did during the Black<br />

liberation era, earth-shaking changes occur.<br />

- Angela Davis<br />

A<br />

lasting mark has been left on me. <strong>No</strong>, not like a<br />

stain. More like an internal imprint that stains<br />

my character. My grandmother’s influence<br />

can be seen through my responses to life’s various<br />

circumstances. Discussions on my grandmother’s<br />

porch educated me about the history of my hometown,<br />

Montgomery, Alabama, as well as the prejudice my<br />

grandmother endured during her youth. In 1961, the<br />

Ku Klux Klan trespassed onto my great-grandfather’s<br />

property. While only seven years old, my grandmother<br />

consoled her six siblings as they huddled in the corner<br />

of their parents’ room in Evergreen, Alabama. Through<br />

her stories of injustice, I have developed a social<br />

consciousness that aims to give a voice to victims who<br />

would otherwise not get a chance to be heard.<br />

<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> magazine is one of the many ways that I<br />

carry out my commitment to social justice. Through working<br />

with and highlighting a diverse range of Black students at<br />

the University of Alabama, I have formed lasting memories<br />

that I will truly never forget. These past two years since the<br />

creation of <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> have solidified my belief that<br />

one action can create lasting change. While serving as the<br />

founding editor-in-chief of a magazine and also preparing for<br />

law school is no easy feat, I would not change my experience<br />

for the world.<br />

It is with a bittersweet feeling that I officially write my last<br />

letter from the editor. However, this is just the beginning of<br />

my journey to creating lasting change in the realm of social<br />

justice. From graduating highschool in 2019 to graduating<br />

college in 2022 to enrolling in law school this Fall, one thing<br />

is for certain: I will continue to find ways to advocate for the<br />

voiceless and initiate change.<br />

I am honored to pass on <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> to future Black<br />

students at the University of Alabama. I am convinced that<br />

these students will continue to reach new heights with<br />

<strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong>.<br />

In the past two years, <strong>Nineteen</strong> <strong>Fifty</strong>-<strong>Six</strong> released 11 magazine<br />

issues and two special edition issues. I am pleased to present<br />

our final magazine issue of the year entitled “Movin’ On Up.”<br />

It has truly been a blessing to work with such talented and<br />

dedicated students on this historical magazine. I hope this<br />

magazine issue leaves you inspired.<br />


12<br />


Grandma’s Hands 14<br />

Respect Black Women 16<br />

Olvera the Explorer 18<br />

Black Lives Still Matter 19<br />

Miss Black Alabama USA 20<br />

Album Review: Ry Ry World 23

Black Mental Health Matters 28<br />

Loud and Proud 30<br />

The Misconceptions of AAVE 35<br />



38 FEATURES<br />

Black Political Leaders in Alabama 40<br />

Royal Lineage 44<br />

The Balancing Act of Being a Student Parent 46<br />

An Unlevel Playing Field: Black Athletes in Sports 50<br />

Athletes in Motion 54

When Voices Are Made Silent 56<br />

When America Catches a Cold,<br />

The Black Man Breathes His Last Breath 60<br />

Off The Field 65<br />

The “Angry” Black Woman 67<br />

What is a Black Girl’s Childhood 69<br />

54<br />






The Black Panther Party, originally named Black<br />

Panther Party for Self-Defense, was founded in 1966<br />

by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland,<br />

California. The Black Panther Party’s original purpose<br />

was to patrol African American neighborhoods to<br />

protect residents from acts of police brutality.



Sunday Dinner, stories on<br />

the front porch and church<br />

on Sunday. Many of the core<br />

memories most Black people share.<br />

Most of those memories have one central<br />

character, a Black grandmother. Whether<br />

she’s Grandma, Granny, Nana, they are all<br />

representations of the strength and resilience<br />

of the matriarch of Black families. It’s important<br />

to highlight what pivotal roles Black grandmothers<br />

play in the lives of Black youth and Black families. Black<br />

students at the University of Alabama share what pivotal<br />

role their grandmothers have played in their lives and the impact<br />

they have had on their families.<br />


“My grandma is extremely beneficial.<br />

she’s who I turn to whenever I’m in a rut or I feel as<br />

though I need someone to talk to. She has shaped<br />

my patience and determination into who I am today.<br />

When I think of Grandma’s hands I think of a gentle,<br />

kind loving hand, and cooking.”<br />

Breniya Shrieves, Sophomore<br />

Political Science (Pre-Law)<br />

“Growing up I’ve always had two<br />

grandmothers and both of them mean<br />

the world to me. They have taught me what<br />

it is to be a woman and how to be a woman in a<br />

relationship. They’ve taught me about modesty,<br />

self-respect and self-love and that’s something<br />

that I can never say thank you enough for. They<br />

have taught me about confidence, beauty and selflove.”<br />

Tonya Samples, Sophomore<br />

Hospitality Management<br />

“My grandmother Clara M. Purse was<br />

a wonderful lady. Sadly she is no longer<br />

with us, she transitioned August of 2021. Me and<br />

her were very close, I used to take her shopping<br />

and paying bills and we enjoyed being in each<br />

other’s company. Out of everyone in my family I<br />

was compared to her the most. We both shared<br />

interests such as fashion and singing. She was the<br />

glue that brought everyone together at her home<br />

and helped so many people in times of need that it<br />

encouraged me to do the same. She taught me to<br />

remain forever young. Even though she was older<br />

in age she still had spunk and was fabulous. I will<br />

always love her and cherish our memories together<br />

and one day we will meet again.”<br />

Eddie Coats, Freshman<br />

Theater Arts<br />

“[My grandmother’s] hands show her<br />

life and I respect her for that. Also, I imagine a<br />

grandmother sitting on her porch, staring at<br />

children playing, she’s looking at her legacy.”<br />

Keia Ervin, Sophomore<br />

Creative Media<br />

“My Grandmother has a huge part into<br />

shaping me into the person I am today.<br />

She helped raise me, placed meals on the table<br />

(even now she’ll make me a juicy steak), and spoiled<br />

me. She tries to push me to be a better person,<br />

and I know that if I ever need anything she will do<br />

all she can to help. When she’s not making Greek<br />

dogs and burgers for the family, she’s helping me<br />

do my laundry on the weekends. I know if I ever<br />

need advice she is always going to be honest. And<br />

I know that whenever I’m not doing it myself,<br />

she’s praying for me. My grandmother shaped<br />

me into an independent, hardworking, faithful,<br />

disciplined, and supportive young lady. She is part<br />

of the reason I’ve made it to where I am today,<br />

and why I choose to keep pushing. Without her, I<br />

honestly don’t know who I would be today.”<br />

Zariah Orr, Sophomore<br />

Aerospace Engineering & Physics<br />

“My grandmother has grown into one<br />

of my closest friends because the older I get<br />

the more I seek her wisdom. As a child, I loved her<br />

house because she was always cooking and giving<br />

me whatever I wanted. My granny always told me<br />

to believe who someone is the first time they show<br />

me and to not make up in my own mind who I<br />

want people to be. Grandma’s hands remind me of<br />

laying in my grandmother’s lap in church as she<br />

sang along with the choir.”<br />

Deja Evan, Sophomore<br />

Public Relations<br />




BLACK<br />

WOMEN<br />

Malcolm X once said, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman.<br />

The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected<br />

person in America is the Black woman.”<br />

Recently, #protectBlackwomen has been in the headlines to shed light on the constant<br />

disrespect Black women are facing. Misogynoir is the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and<br />

prejudice directed toward Black women.<br />

Who do Black women need protection from? The shortest answer is the media. There’s no<br />

secret of the limited positive representation of Black women in mass media which reflects on<br />

the reality of Black women being constantly mistreated.<br />

Constant studies have shown Black women being less likely to receive work promotions and<br />

more likely to face discrimination because of their hair. Unfortunately, Black women fall into<br />

stereotypical roles when it comes to their portrayal in movies, television, and music videos.<br />

Although movies are a source of entertainment, it is important to notice the stereotypical<br />

pattern Black women face in certain roles. In 1939, legendary actress Hattie McDaniel was the<br />

first Black person to win an Oscar. However, the role she played was a mammy. A mammy is<br />

described by Merriam-Webster as a Black woman serving as a nurse to white children especially<br />

formerly in the southern U.S.<br />

In 2011, Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for her portrayal of Minny Jackson in The Help which<br />

was another stereotypical mammy role. In 2013, Lupita Nyungo won an Oscar for playing an<br />

enslaved woman in 12 Years a Slave. All of these women deserve their Oscars, but it’s important<br />


to recognize the specific stereotypical roles that get<br />

acknowledged in Hollywood.<br />

“We are more visible than ever now but we are very<br />

underrepresented. Diversity has space everywhere and we<br />

don’t see enough of it in the media. We all have different<br />

stories to tell and at the moment we are not seeing enough<br />

of it. I think we have a lot of representation on-screen,<br />

but to get even more we need more Black women off the<br />

screen in the offices or in the director’s chair is how we<br />

can see a more positive light and really achieve what we<br />

want and what audiences want,” said Sydney Ogbogu, a<br />

senior majoring in creative media.<br />

Black sitcoms are some of the most interesting things to<br />

look back on because they represent a time when things<br />

were simpler, like childhood. Common Black sitcoms<br />

include Martin, The Cosby Show, The Jeffersons, Family<br />

Matters, A Different World, The Parkers, Moesha, The<br />

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and One on One. However, in<br />

the majority of these shows, there’s a misogynistic male<br />

character or constant degrading jokes towards another<br />

female character.<br />

Within The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will’s character said<br />

something misogynistic or sexual every episode when<br />

speaking to another female character. A lot of scenes<br />

between these male and female characters are a form of<br />

sexual harassment that gets overlooked.<br />

“I didn’t see enough good representation growing up. But<br />

when I did see it, it made me so happy! I remember when<br />

Princess and The Frog came out on Disney for the first<br />

time, it was truly magical seeing someone that looked<br />

like me, like a princess. The media is getting better with<br />

this, but we’ve got a long way to go,” said Breona Winn, a<br />

junior majoring in public relations.<br />

Are Black women worthy of praise and appreciation<br />

outside of stereotypical reminders of a painful past? The<br />

answer is yes, but movies and shows aren’t the only issues.<br />

The media also controls the way women are portrayed<br />

through music.<br />

Hip hop is a steady genre that has captivated the minds<br />

of young people. With hip hop created on the back of<br />

misogyny, it’s hard for women to get the respect they<br />

deserve. From the start of rap music videos, women<br />

have been the center of objectification and disrespect.<br />

Throughout the early 2000s, the objectification of<br />

women through music videos was at a high with video<br />

vixens. These music videos showed a glamorous life to<br />

young girls watching.<br />

In 2003, rapper Nelly received backlash from his infamous<br />

“Tip Drill” video because of the degrading actions towards<br />

women in certain scenes of the video. The lyrics and video<br />

implied women were only good for sexual endeavors.<br />

Although this isn’t the only song in history to objectify<br />

women, the majority of rap songs sexualize women or call<br />

them degrading names.<br />

However, it’s important to notice the things young girls<br />

consume and how this can have a damaging effect on<br />

them as they get older.<br />

“The media does oversexualize women at times especially<br />

in music videos and films. I believe that this comes from<br />

how society has constructed itself. We live in a world<br />

where women are constantly fighting against the male<br />

ego. In the eyes of most men, women are seen for just<br />

pleasure. The media portrays women to only look sexy and<br />

cater to them, and then are constantly criticized for what<br />

they wear and how they wear it,” said Keirra Thomas, a<br />

junior majoring in Advertising.<br />

A study conducted by the American Journal of Public<br />

Health from 1996-1999 on Black teenage girls who were<br />

exposed to rap music videos showed these girls were 2.5<br />

times as likely to have been arrested; 2 times as likely to<br />

have had multiple sexual partners; and 1.5 times as likely<br />

to have acquired a new sexually transmitted disease, used<br />

drugs, or used alcohol over the 12-month follow-up period.<br />

Although the media doesn’t define every Black woman in<br />

America, it is important to acknowledge the weak areas<br />

that need improvement. Black women are often overlooked<br />

and silenced. If you’re a man, use your privilege to listen<br />

and uplift Black women’s voices for others to hear. As a<br />

community, instead of highlighting negative moments<br />

let’s uplift each other to move forward.<br />




Olvera the Explorer<br />

Isabel de Olvera was born in<br />

Querétaro, Mexico, in the late 1500s<br />

Her Father was African and Mother Indian<br />

As a free Black woman in the 1600ʻs,<br />

she needed permision and protection to<br />

join an expedition to New Spain<br />

She petitioned the mayor to<br />

provide her the documentation<br />

she needed to be a free woman<br />

In her appeal, at the end she wrote,<br />

“I Demand Justice”<br />

18<br />

8 Months<br />

Later<br />

Olvera was allowed to join<br />

the expedition. She traveled<br />

around 1400, but details of the<br />

adventure are still unknown.




2020 was a crucial year for<br />

social justice in the United<br />

States. Breonna Taylor was<br />

killed by the police in Louisville on<br />

March 13. <strong>No</strong>t long after, the world<br />

watched as George Floyd was killed<br />

by the police on May 25.<br />

Tension has been built up for years<br />

with the multitude of Black Americans<br />

being killed at the hands of police.<br />

Streets were filled with protestors of<br />

all races throughout the country and<br />

throughout the world and social media<br />

was flooded with #BLM hashtags<br />

and internet performances showing<br />

support.<br />

After months of displays, the<br />

discussion and protests died down<br />

and people slowly stopped talking<br />

about the issues. This is a reminder<br />

that Black lives still matter and must<br />

be a frequent topic for the betterment<br />

of Black Americans’ circumstances.<br />

Black Lives Matter is not simply an<br />

organization or trend, it is a priority<br />

and a mission that must be reinforced<br />

until an actual change in society is<br />

made.<br />

Recent reports have shown that the<br />

support for the Black Lives Matter<br />

movement has slowly declined since<br />

it’s peak in June of 2020. <strong>No</strong>body in<br />

the U.S. was privy to George Floyd’s<br />

murder, as the video showed police<br />

officer Derek Chauvin kneel on his<br />

neck for 8 minutes.<br />

In 1991, Rodney King was assaulted by<br />

police officers on camera. Like Floyd’s<br />

murder, riots spread after King’s<br />

attack. The fact that everyone had<br />

video access to both incidents caused<br />

anger within the Black community,<br />

only with Floyd’s murder, it led to<br />

other nations getting involved.<br />

Protests occurred in countries such<br />

as the United States, England, South<br />

Korea, Italy, Sweden. “I Can’t Breathe”<br />

signs were a global item. Videos were<br />

posted in different languages talking<br />

about this injustice in U.S. history.<br />

For months, there was growing<br />

support.<br />

With all the chaos surrounding the<br />

question, “Do Black Lives Matter,”<br />

young Black people were experiencing<br />

a major shift in their life. UA freshman<br />

Timira Lawson says that the summer<br />

of 2020 was a traumatizing experience.<br />

“I felt like it was extremely harsh and it<br />

could have been handled differently,”<br />

Lawson said. “<strong>No</strong>w we are more afraid<br />

of cops than ever and it was sad to see<br />

people injured and killed.”<br />

As protests died down and people<br />

stopped making posts, the summer<br />

of 2020 became a dark memory for<br />

most people. Soon #BLM was taken<br />

out of celebrities’ Instagram bios<br />

and the cities were being cleaned up.<br />

Many people felt it was no longer their<br />

obligation to openly show support.<br />

UA sophomore Spencer Lott believes<br />

that people didn’t take the protests<br />

and issues seriously and simply wanted<br />

to keep a clean record.<br />

“I do believe that to an extent<br />

people hopped onto it, kind of like a<br />

bandwagon,” Lott said. “Most of it felt<br />

really shallow and not genuine, and<br />

many of the events felt very temporary<br />

and only after tragedies these issues<br />

are talked about.”<br />

People slowly forgot the traumatic<br />

experience of that summer and moved<br />

on with their lives. But for Black<br />

people, 2020 still lingers. The question<br />

‘Do Black Lives Matter?’ provokes<br />

the option that Black Lives could be<br />

worthless, an idea that has emotionally<br />

damaged many Black people in the U.S.<br />

The question became more politicized<br />

than socially relevant. With the political<br />

system not built in Black people’s favor,<br />

they’re forced to tolerate unnecessary<br />

evils. Police brutality happens often<br />

and blatant racism is extremely<br />

prevalent in the modern day.<br />

There are many people still fighting<br />

for justice despite the BLM “trend” of<br />

2020 being over. Black Lives Matter<br />

needs more than just black square<br />

posts, and social media dances, and<br />

catchphrases, but systemic changes for<br />

the benefit of all Black people.<br />


20<br />



door was opened and I could not be more grateful<br />

A to be the one to walk through it. In <strong>No</strong>vember 2021,<br />

I was officially crowned as Miss Black Alabama USA 2022.<br />

This title grants me with even more opportunities to<br />

serve my community and state. Within this role, I serve<br />

as a spokesperson for my generation by researching,<br />

preparing, and delivering public appearance presentations,<br />

performances, and speeches pertaining to voting, human<br />

rights, mental health, and many other topics. As a state<br />

titleholder, I will also build on the legacy of Miss Black<br />

Alabama USA by sharing my social initiative “Diversifying<br />

Digital Media & Elevating Marginalized Voices.”<br />

I aspire to prove that diversifying digital media benefits<br />

people of all backgrounds because it provides education<br />

on cultural topics and helps produce socially-conscious,<br />

ethical, and well-rounded citizens. I will specifically focus<br />

on three areas: Colleges, High Schools, and Mainstream<br />

Media.<br />

The Miss Black USA Organization is the first and largest<br />

scholarship pageant for women of color. The pageant<br />

empowers women to own their power and celebrates their<br />

unique talents, traits and beauty. Miss Black USA defines<br />

her own standard of beauty and celebrates the whole<br />

woman, mind, body and spirit, all shades of brown, hair<br />

texture and size.<br />




Ry Ry World<br />

With the arrival of Mariah the Scientist’s second<br />

studio album: Ry Ry World, she immurses us<br />

into her world, literally. This album is much<br />

more personal and captivating than her debut album,<br />

Master, which was presented only two years prior, with<br />

a look and feel to go along with it. It’s evident that her<br />

music is very personal to her because of the details she<br />

incorporates into every song. Ry Ry World is 10 tracks<br />

that have an overall theme of the universe, the stars, and<br />

the atmosphere and tells a story along with its paired<br />

visuals. The 23-year-old from Decatur, Georgia pulls<br />

much inspiration from how and where she grew up, and<br />

it shines through in her music. This inspiration comes<br />

out in various ways, whether it’s references in lyrics or<br />

other topics. This album is for anyone who is looking for<br />

closure from a relationship or an album that tells a story.<br />

But, most importantly the album overall gives an ethereal<br />

feeling when listening to it.<br />

The theme is very consistent throughout the album.<br />

Mariah ties her feelings towards the relationship at topic<br />

with the universe, space, and how these feelings many<br />

times intertwine for women. The instrumentals for all the<br />

songs, especially the key songs, create a dreamy feeling<br />

created by pianos, strings and synths to marry the theme<br />

with the lyrics. With 5 of the 10 songs produced by K. Rain,<br />

it is easy to hear the collaboration and the direction they<br />

wanted the album to go in. Many times when there are<br />

multiple different producers on an album, it can sound<br />

like an assortment of songs pieced together, rather than<br />

a full story composed prior to the album being born. With<br />

Ry Ry World, it is evident in all the elements this is a piece<br />

of art thought out from beginning to end.<br />


Track 1- Impalas & Air Force 1s<br />

The opening track on the album kicks off with the<br />

line, “Take me to your leader”, making the listener<br />

aware that Mariah’s mind is elsewhere, possibly not on<br />

Earth at the moment. Being the shortest track on the<br />

album at only 1:39, it serves its purpose of introducing<br />

the main topics of the album, the universe, love and<br />

Atlanta. She transports us elsewhere, but still brings<br />

her world along. She goes on to say, “<strong>No</strong>thing I’ve seen<br />

on the East Side. I wonder what they’ll think of Impalas<br />

& Air Force 1s?” This is a nod to where she’s from,<br />

East Atlanta, where the culture involves the love of<br />

old cars, such as Chevy Impalas, and the most popular<br />

shoes are Air Force 1s, white to be specific. Both are<br />

mentioned frequently in other artists’ songs who are<br />

also from the city. She ends the song with “Who’s your<br />

favorite girl, I wish I could be her” hinting at the fact<br />

the relationship she is referring to in this album is no<br />

longer.<br />

Track 2- Aura<br />

A second single of the album, and rightfully so, starts<br />

with a fairy-like intro and the pre-hook of this song<br />

is, “I can be what you need, maybe more, everything”<br />

as if she’s trying to prove to her previous lover that<br />

they are made for each other, a central theme we’ll see<br />

throughout the album. There is a sample here from<br />

the Isley Brothers, “Make Me Say It Again Girl” which<br />

shows up most prominently as the chorus,<br />

Oh, I believe you are a rainbow,<br />

All the heaven I need to see<br />

You’re the promise everlasting<br />

Where you are, I hope to be<br />

These sample lyrics, “Heaven” and “Rainbow” fit in<br />

perfectly with the theme of the album, and especially<br />

the instrumental here. The lyrics tie perfectly with<br />

the ideas of the universe, the planets, and the ethereal<br />

feelings provoked by the album. The visual for this song<br />

is only 1:57 minutes while the song is 3:13 minutes. In<br />

an interview, Mariah mentioned how there wasn’t any<br />

need for a video. In the whole song, she got her point<br />

across in that short period of time. The visual for this<br />

song is her running from arrows shooting from the<br />

sky. She is wearing all red, the color of passion and love,<br />

running through a field of deep snow. She is eventually<br />

struck from behind by an arrow, implying that she has<br />

been struck by Cupid. Before she can fall, colorful rays<br />

cover the sky, this is where the correlation between “2<br />

You” comes in, because at the beginning of that video,<br />

it looks like you’re traveling through space in the same<br />

sky that is in “Aura.”<br />

Track 4- RIP<br />

The starting lines of this song are, “If we can’t live<br />

forever, baby it is now or never. And if nothing I guess<br />

I’ll see you in Heaven.” Again, the mentioning of<br />

Heaven, and the ideas of time in space are continued<br />

through the songs. The reason this song would be<br />

another key song, is because this is where she narrates<br />

why the relationship ended, with the title of the song<br />

“RIP”. In the verse of the song she mentions how she<br />

could give everything she has and more to this person,<br />

and it still won’t be enough to satisfy them. Mariah<br />

says, “Well I dream to be a fool” so this way she doesn’t<br />

know what her partner is really doing, and she is able<br />

to overlook all the wrongs he is doing. She would<br />

rather focus on the good, but she just can’t, and that’s<br />

why the relationship ended.<br />

Track 7- Maybe<br />

This whole song is a narration of what could have<br />

been. What she thinks could have come from the<br />

relationship. She lists multiple things they could<br />

have done to possibly save the relationship like<br />

praying, being more brave, escaping together and so<br />

many other things. It seems as if it’s an in-real-time<br />

reflection as to how she feels now that the relationship<br />

has ended, and hindsight has started. Based on the<br />


lyrics, it is clear Mariah saw more in the person than he<br />

saw in himself, and let the fame get to his head. She said,<br />

“Liked you better for what you could have been” then<br />

later in the verse, “And I know you know I held my end of<br />

the deal.” With the combination of these two lines, the<br />

other person has really disappointed her. She wanted<br />

something real, and it was just something he could not<br />

do for her.<br />

Track 9- All For Me<br />

Arguably the most personal song on the album, All For<br />

Me narrates a feeling she has of missing this person,<br />

specifically after a long night of partying. She goes<br />

through the emotions of the night she first says, “these<br />

feelings get to talking, headed out of the party, and I know<br />

you see me calling.” Then, in the chorus she explains how<br />

she knows most likely he is with another girl, but in the<br />

possible chance he isn’t she wants to spend more time<br />

with him, she wants him all for her, hence the title, “All<br />

For Me.” She then narrates how she isn’t too far from<br />

where he stays and she doesn’t want to spend another<br />

night alone. Then, she compares herself to this new girl<br />

in his life, and she can’t do half of what she is willing to<br />

do for him. It’s a borderline desperate attempt to get him<br />

to give in to seeing her.<br />

Being her most personal album, Ry Ry World narrates<br />

all the emotions of a relationship turned sour that her<br />

audience can relate to. From feelings of sadness, to<br />

regret, to anger, and missing the person, the album as a<br />

whole encompasses these emotions over delicate beats to<br />

match the emotions.<br />







Black leather jackets, afros, and black berets were<br />

the unofficial uniform of the Black Panther Party. “The<br />

panthers didn’t invent the idea that Black is beautiful,”<br />

former member Jamal Joseph said. “One of the things<br />

that Panthers did was [prove] that urban Black is<br />



BLACK<br />

MENTAL<br />

HEALTH<br />


21.6% (6.5 m)<br />

of Black Americans reported having a<br />

mental illness.<br />

23% (1.2 m)<br />

of Black Americans reported having a<br />

serious mental illness.<br />

Many African Americans with a serious<br />

mental illness did not receive any form<br />

of treatment.<br />

28<br />

Source: 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health<br />

Age<br />

18-25<br />

Age<br />

26-49<br />

58.2% 50%<br />

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<br />

The lack of access to medical and mental health<br />

services leads to mental health disparities that<br />

disproportionately impact Black Americans.<br />

6.5 million or 21.6% of Black Americans reported having<br />

a mental illness. Of the 6.5 million Black Americans, 1.2<br />

million or 23% reported having a serious mental illness,<br />

according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and<br />

Health.<br />

Dr. Abhishek Allam is a resident of the National Institute<br />

of Mental Health and Neurosciences. Allam is also a<br />

licensed physician at Sunshine Behavioral Health in San<br />

Juan Capistrano, California.<br />

“Lack of insurance and medical access leads to delayed<br />

treatment or many going untreated with serious mental<br />

illness in the African American community,” said Allam.<br />

In 2018, 58.2% of African Americans ages 18-25 and 50.1% of<br />

African Americans ages 26-49 with a serious mental illness<br />

did not receive any form of treatment, according to the<br />

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.<br />

In 2019, 10.1% of African Americans in comparison to 6.3%<br />

of white Americans were uninsured, according to the<br />

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of<br />

Minority Health.<br />

Chief Nursing Officer Willa Hardamon works at Old<br />

Vineyard Behavioral Health Services in Winston-Salem,<br />

<strong>No</strong>rth Carolina. Hardamon has 30 years of nursing<br />

experience in the mental and behavioral health industry.<br />

“African Americans are more likely to not receive treatment<br />

for a serious mental illness,” said Hardamon. “This leads to<br />

substance use disorders in African Americans who attempt<br />

to self-treat with drugs and other substances.”<br />

According to a report by the CDC, 90% of Black Americans<br />

over the age of 12 with a substance use disorder went<br />

untreated.<br />

Stigmas associated with mental illness cause Black<br />

Americans to not get the mental health treatment they<br />

need.<br />

“Mental health stigmas and lack of public awareness<br />

influence many Black Americans to not seek professional<br />

treatment,” said Hardamon. “Shame and embarrassment<br />

also results in the denial of mental illness for some Black<br />


According to a report in the National Library of Medicine,<br />

63% of African Americans said depression is a sign of<br />

personal weakness.<br />

“Growing up in India, I saw prominent members of society<br />

talk about mental health and greatly help break some of<br />

the stigmas in India,” said Allam. “In the same way, I think<br />

prominent figures in the Black community speaking out<br />

and promoting mental health can be one way to break<br />

current stigmas.”<br />

Outreach coordinator Eric Henckel connects community<br />

members to Sunshine Behavioral Health. Henckel also<br />

promotes resources such as a guide that discusses mental<br />

health issues affecting the Black community.<br />

10.1%<br />

of African Americans were uninsured,<br />

compared to<br />

of white Americans.<br />

6.3%<br />

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services<br />

“By sharing this resource and others, we can help start a<br />

conversation about how racism and discrimination affect<br />

the mental health of African Americans,” said Henckel.<br />

“Education and outreach can help reduce the shame and<br />

stigma associated with mental illness and mental health<br />

treatment in the African American community.”<br />

Mental health professionals are taking steps to decrease<br />

the amount of mental health disparities that impact Black<br />

Americans.<br />

Allam said Sunshine Behavioral Health is actively working<br />

to eliminate mental health issues that the Black community<br />

faces.<br />

“Sunshine Behavioral Health is spreading awareness<br />

through well-researched guides, free nonprofit addiction<br />

directories, community presentations and partnerships<br />

with local organizations,” said Allam. “We also provide<br />

scholarships and payment plans for substance abuse<br />

treatment to ensure people of all incomes can access the<br />

best available options with us or another program.”<br />

90%<br />

Hardamon said Old Vineyard Behavioral Health Services<br />

partnered with the National Action Alliance for Suicide<br />

Prevention to positively impact communities and change<br />

the conversation.<br />

“There needs to be more outreach by mental health<br />

providers to the Black community,” said Hardamon.<br />

“Educating the Black community about mental health<br />

and affordable treatment options is a step in the right<br />

direction.”<br />

90% of Black Americans over the age<br />

of 12 with a substance use disorder<br />

went untreated.<br />






Within the Black community, there seems to be<br />

a stigma around having a conversation about<br />

sexuality and gender identity. As a community,<br />

it is frowned upon and this ignorance is justified through<br />

religion and the Bible. Marginalized groups such as Black<br />

people having that intersectionality of being Black and a<br />

part of the LGBTQ+ community is a huge challenge for<br />

some.<br />

When Ose Arheghan was in the 8th grade they came out<br />

as queer. Middle school is a pretty challenging time for<br />

many students. Approximately 20% of students between<br />

the ages of 12 and 18 are bullied in some way. Arheghan<br />

didn’t know this stat but they knew that as a Black queer<br />

non-binary teenager they would be susceptible to such<br />

things and that the children like them would be too.<br />

Throughout high school, Arheghan made it their goal<br />

to be an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, actively working to<br />

change their school’s discrimination policy<br />

At just 17-years-old Arheghan was honored as GLSEN’s<br />

Student Advocate of the Year in 2017. Creating safe<br />

environments for LGBTQ+ and fighting for the rights of<br />

the community<br />

GLSEN is a nonprofit organization that’s goal is creating<br />

safe learning environments for LGBTQ+ youth, specifically<br />

K-12 students. And that’s exactly what Aheghan’s goal was<br />

and still is today.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w attending Ohio State University, Arheghan still<br />

advocates for the rights and inclusiveness of minority<br />

and marginalized students and groups on the campus.<br />

They also work closely with Know Your IX, a nonprofit<br />

that teaches students about their rights under the Title<br />

IX law.<br />

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a<br />

federal law that states: “no person in the United States<br />

shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation<br />

in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to<br />

discrimination under any education program or activity<br />

receiving Federal financial assistance.”<br />

There are many non-profit organizations and activists<br />

that people don’t see advocating for the LGBTIA<br />

community, but one person that makes sure their voice<br />

is heard is Twiggy Pucci Garcon. Garcon goes by she/they<br />

pronouns and is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.<br />

Garcon is the Chief Program Director of True Colors<br />

United, an organization that strives to find solutions to<br />

homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth.<br />

“I’ve been doing advocacy and social justice work, and<br />

public health work since high school. Most of that work<br />

was centered around public health, for Black and Latinx<br />

communities, particularly queer communities,” Garcon<br />

said.<br />

Garcon has also gone on to make films about LGBTQ+<br />

homeless and young people who have come together to<br />

create a safe space to unapologetically be themselves.<br />

“I feel as much as I fight the urge and desire to be more<br />

low key…I show up unapologetically everywhere all the<br />

time and try to raise the profile and visibility of those<br />

specifically in the ballroom scene along with Black and<br />

brown LGBTQ people globally,” said Garcon.<br />

While also being a part of the LGBTQ+ community and<br />

a person of color, Garcon has a platform by using their<br />

creativity “as a lens by which to open the door for those<br />

conversations to happen.”<br />



“I think that change and growth happens with many approaches,<br />

and I think the sort of informal, conversational approach that we<br />

can have with our friends and family and loved ones, is something<br />

that any of us could do. And I think that on the flip side of that, it<br />

is still also folks’ responsibility to educate themselves and keep<br />

up with the times and what’s going on,” Garcon said.<br />

Conversations about the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ+<br />

have to continue to be had. Activists and advocates like Garcon and<br />

Arheghan leave footprints to continue advocating and teaching<br />

about the disparities and struggles of the LGBTQ+ community,<br />

starting with the LGBTQ+ youth. Simply acknowledging these<br />

things is a start to leading the cause.<br />





AAVE<br />

African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is<br />

not a recent concept but it has been a recent<br />

hot topic in the media. There are already<br />

misconceptions surrounding AAVE, but the idea that<br />

words like “lit,” “simp,” or “periodt” are new “internet<br />

slang” adds even more to these misconceptions. AAVE<br />

is one of the numerous aspects of Black culture that<br />

are misinformed or just not taught, so many people do<br />

not know what it is, where it comes from, and what the<br />

problem of using it (or misusing it) is.<br />

African American Vernacular English or AAVE is a dialect<br />

of English started in the southern states of the United<br />

States by enslaved Africans beginning in the 17th century,<br />

according to The Oxford Handbook of African American<br />

Language. Scholars consider there to be multiple potential<br />

origins of AAVE. Some consider it to be derived from the<br />

British English of the enslaved Africans’ white owners.<br />

Others consider it to be derived from Creole spoken by<br />

West Africans, known to some of the enslaved Africans,<br />

mixed with English. Regardless, they are all connected<br />

in the American south. AAVE spread and evolved as<br />

Black people moved across the United States throughout<br />

history. It became a part of Black American culture and<br />

was passed through generations.<br />

Linguists consider AAVE to have certain grammar rules,<br />

vocabulary, tones, and pronunciations. For example, the<br />

use of the word ‘be’ is used differently in AAVE than in<br />

standard English but it is not used randomly.<br />

According to linguist and Stanford professor John<br />

Rickford, “Many members of the public seem to have<br />

heard, too, that Ebonics speakers use an invariant ‘be’ in<br />

their speech (as in ‘They be goin to school every day’);<br />

however, this ‘be’ is not simply equivalent to ‘is’ or ‘are.’<br />

Invariant ‘be’ refers to actions that occur regularly or<br />

habitually rather than on just one occasion.”<br />

The history of AAVE is important in emphasizing the<br />

legitimacy of it as a dialect, as it has been and still is<br />

considered “slang” or “improper.” Marguerite Rigoglioso<br />

wrote for Stanford news on Rickford’s thoughts about<br />

the discrimation and racism that was inflicted on Rachel<br />

Jeantel during the summer of 2013 trial of George<br />

Zimmerman and the killing of the Black, 17 year old boy,<br />

Trayvon Martin. Jeantel was a friend of Martin and was<br />

on the phone with Martin before and at the time of his<br />

death. Jeantel spoke AAVE during her testimony. Because<br />

of this, she was misunderstood and considered unreliable<br />

by the court and others who do not understand AAVE.<br />

“‘African Americans on the jury – especially fluent AAVE<br />

speakers – would have understood Jeantel, and the<br />

presence of even one such juror could have helped the<br />

others to understand what she was saying,” Rickford said.<br />


36<br />

Short caption.

“But the defense did a good job of making sure there<br />

were no African American jurors in this trial,’” Rigoglioso<br />

wrote.<br />

That is one example of how speaking AAVE has caused<br />

prejudice in the lives of Black Americans.<br />

The origins of AAVE and the discrimination Black<br />

Americans have recieved for speaking it is why it is<br />

considered problematic that non-Black people profit from<br />

appropriating it. <strong>No</strong>n-Black singers, rappers, actors, social<br />

media stars and more have been accused of using AAVE to<br />

gain fame, as it makes them seem ‘cool’ or ‘funny.’ These<br />

people are often defended by those who claim they grew<br />

up around people who use AAVE, they are from New York,<br />

or by simply not seeing an issue. The problem with this<br />

is it ignores the history behind AAVE and does not give<br />

credit to the Black Americans it originated from.<br />

Kahlil Greene, a popular social media educator and Yale<br />

graduate, made videos discussing the history of AAVE,<br />

the problematic uses of it by non-Black people, and why<br />

the Black community often “gate-keeps” it and other<br />

aspects of Black culture.<br />

“Black people in America, specifically, have been racialized<br />

on the idea that we are inherently lazy, poor, uneducated,<br />

or criminal. <strong>No</strong>t all people of color are stereotyped in this<br />

way, and thus our use of AAVE has been stigmatized as<br />

sloppy, unprofessional or ignorant. And that is simply<br />

not the case for non-Black people who are seen as funny,<br />

sensational, or cool when they use it,” Greene said.<br />

Greene further talked about the issues that arise when<br />

these non-Black creators profit off of Black culture like<br />

using a ‘Blaccent,’ recreating Black creators work such<br />

as Tik Tok dances, and creating a Black caricature but<br />

do not credit or give back to the Black community that<br />

originated it.<br />

“When you inform yourself about Black American history,<br />

and you look at gatekeeping in context, you will find that<br />

the imitation of Black culture by non-Black people has<br />

more often led to erasure and exploitation than inclusion<br />

and reciprocation,” Greene said.<br />

“In countless cases, Black innovators and creatives<br />

are smudged out for the sake of rewarding non-Black<br />

performers of our culture to the point that if I even point<br />

out that one of these celebrities is using Black culture,<br />

that I get looked at as if I’m irrational even though I am<br />

100% right,” Greene said.<br />

Misconceptions of AAVE and people who do not<br />

understand the importance of it and its history will always<br />

exist as long as there continues to be no education on<br />

the subject. In 1996, the Oakland California school board<br />

passed a resolution that acknowledged the use of AAVE<br />

amongst its over half population of Black students and a<br />

plan to utilize it to aid the students with their struggle of<br />

learning standard English.<br />

According to Alexander Russo for The Grade, Oakland’s<br />

decision was supported by linguists and practices of<br />

using children’s home dialect to help them learn standard<br />

English which has been successful in the past. Despite<br />

this, Oakland’s resolution was disapproved of by average<br />

people, celebrities, and media publications. This included<br />

Black people as well, like Jesse Jackson and Maya Angelou.<br />

Most of the opposition was based on opinions rooted<br />

in racism or misinformation. Oakland carried out the<br />

resolution but did it under a different name for less media<br />

attention. This was the last time a large-scale attempt<br />

was made to incorporate AAVE into teaching standard<br />

English in schools.<br />

Education is a key factor missing in the conversation<br />

surrounding AAVE, as it is in many other aspects of Black<br />

culture that are undermined or misunderstood.<br />

Schools would need to be involved in order to allow the<br />

decades of research done by linguists on AAVE to become<br />

common knowledge. Until then, change can start with<br />

educating oneself on the matter and staying woke on the<br />

history of AAVE.<br />







The Black Panther Party established more than 60<br />

community assistance programs including medical<br />

services, free clothing and shoes, legal aid instruction,<br />

and a predecessor to Head Start.<br />

“I guarantee that the seed you plant in love, no matter<br />

how small, will grow into a mighty tree of refuge. We all<br />

want a future for ourselves and we must now care enough<br />

to create, nurture and secure a future for our children.”<br />

– Afeni Shakur

40<br />

Alabama’s history can be used as an indicator of the<br />

importance of local politics.<br />

Many are familiar with the state’s long history with<br />

anti-Blackness and civil rights injustices. Alabama, as a<br />

southern, historically conserative state, has a history of<br />

slavery, displacement of Black Americans, segragation,<br />

and police brutality. However, Black Alabamians have<br />

used their voices to fight against the hatred being used<br />

against them. Many of that progress can be attributed to<br />

the work of Black political leaders in Alabama that has<br />

existed for over 150 years.<br />

Benjamin Turner was the first Black American to serve<br />

as a Representative in Alabama. Turner was sold to slave<br />

owners in Selma, Alabama and remained enslaved there<br />

until the city was liberated by the Union during the<br />

American Civil War in 1865. He worked for his owner’s<br />

business where he received payment while enslaved,<br />

so when Selma was liberated and the business was<br />

destroyed, he had to find new work. This is when Turner<br />

started his work in Republican politics. The Republican<br />

party of this time favored more liberal ideals, like social<br />

justice for Black Americans. Turner successfully won a<br />

seat for Alabama in the US House of Representatives 42nd<br />

Congress. The platform he ran with focussed on voting<br />

rights and human rights protections for all. He also<br />

advocated for financial aid for Alabama after experiencing<br />

loss first hand during the Civil War. However, Turner was<br />

considered to be quite conservative.<br />

“I have no coals of fiery reproach to heap upon them now.<br />

Rather would I extend the olive branch of peace, and say<br />

to them, let the past be forgotten,” Turner said, according<br />

to the US House of Representatives archives.<br />

Turner believed in human rights protections for<br />

confederate southerners as well. Turner’s political career<br />

ended in 1872 when Black voters were split between<br />

himself, and another Black candidate named Philip Joseph.<br />

Joseph and many others did not support his moderate<br />

views. However, both Turner and Joseph lost the seat to<br />

a Democratic candidate because of the divide between<br />

Black voters.<br />

Turner was just the beginning of Black political leaders<br />

in Alabama. A Black man named James Rapier was born<br />

in Florence, Alabama and served in the 43rd Congress as<br />

a representative in the House for Alabama from 1873 to<br />

1875. He spent his time in congress with a record of six<br />

other Black representatives of the time advocating for<br />

The Civil Rights Act of 1875. The goal of this bill was to

outlaw discrimination in public places. Rapier and the<br />

Republican party were successful in passing the bill after<br />

he and the six other Black representatives recounted<br />

their experiences with discrimination on The House<br />

debate floor.<br />

“Every day my life and property are exposed, are left to<br />

the mercy of others, and will be so long as every hotelkeeper,<br />

railroad conductor, and steamboat captain can<br />

refuse me with impunity,” said Rapier from the US House<br />

of Representatives archives.<br />

The bill had little effect as the Republican party had<br />

to amend it many times to make it acceptable to the<br />

Democrats. Rapier still remains an important figure in<br />

Alabama’s political history.<br />

In a more local context, Black politicians in Alabama have<br />

shown the importance of mayoral elections. These Black<br />

political leaders struggled to gain mayoral power for<br />

years because of discrimination and anti-Blackness that<br />

prevented them from running for office. That is why it<br />

was not until 1979 that Alabama had its first Black mayor.<br />

Richard Arrington Jr. became the first Black mayor of the<br />

city of Birmingham, Alabama. Arrington is an Alabama<br />

native, born in Livingston, Alabama, and served for 20<br />

years as mayor from 1979 to 1999. He spent his time in office<br />

advocating against police brutality, expanding downtown<br />

Birmingham, improving the city’s economy and lowering<br />

the unemployment rate, instituting affirmative action in<br />

the workplace and more, according to F. Erik Brooks and<br />

Robert J. Robinson for the Encyclopedia of Alabama.<br />

After Arrington, there have now been several other Black<br />

mayors of Birmingham, including the city’s current<br />

mayor, Randall Woodfin.<br />

Woodfin, a Birmingham native, has served as mayor since<br />

2017 and became the youngest mayor of the city in over 120<br />

years at age 36. Woodfin’s administration said its focuses<br />

are improving the 99 neighborhoods of Birmingham,<br />

bettering education, building up the economy and more,<br />

according to his plan to “put people first.”<br />

While all these Black political figures have been Black<br />

men, Black women are vital contributors to politics in<br />

Alabama. The practices and injustices in place that made<br />

it difficult for Black men to gain power in this state made<br />

it even harder for Black women. However, Black women<br />

in Alabama have still made political impact as school<br />

board members, city council members, activists, lawyers,<br />

community organizers and more.<br />

Black female political figures in Alabama include women<br />

like Dr. Sheila Nash-Stevenson, the first Black woman<br />

in Alabama to earn a PhD in physics at Alabama A&M<br />

University. Nash-Stevenson serves as a member of the<br />

Madison school board in addition to being an engineer<br />

with NASA at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville,<br />

Alabama and many other professional achievements.<br />

Another example of Black female leadership in Alabama<br />

politics is Terri Sewell. She is the current representative<br />

of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District since 2011 and<br />

first Black woman to serve in the Alabama Congressional<br />

delegation. Sewell’s prestigious law education and years<br />

of political work have led her to create a distinguished<br />

congressional career creating improvements in her<br />

district, including Tuscaloosa county and Jefferson county.<br />

Sewell is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus<br />

where she has worked to reform the criminal justice<br />

system, improve health care by preventing racial health<br />

disparities, expanding education and more. Her work in<br />

honoring the civil rights freedom fighters involved in<br />

historic Alabama events like the 16th Street Baptist<br />


Church bombing and March from Selma to Wachington<br />

were recognized and supported by President Obama and<br />

Michelle Obama.<br />

The work of Black politicians has been a crucial part in the<br />

change made in this state, but community organizations<br />

are important to acknowledge when discussing political<br />

impact. It is these organizations that bring together<br />

their local community and raise funds for causes that are<br />

important.<br />

An Alabama organization that is working to end racial<br />

injustice is Project Say Something. Founded by Camille<br />

Goldston Bennett, Project Say Something’s mission is “to<br />

confront racial injustice and patriarchal violence through<br />

Black history by using communication, education, and<br />

advocacy, community empowerment to reconcile the past<br />

with the present.”<br />

However, Project Say Something continues to advocate<br />

for the importance of it to be taught in schools as one of<br />

the organization’s values.<br />

“We believe that critical race theory should be understood<br />

and taught in every level of public education and that our<br />

youth should be equipped with the tools to understand<br />

oppressive systems from an early age.” -Project Say<br />

Something<br />

This is just some of the work that has been done by Black<br />

politicians and community organizers in Alabama that<br />

has changed the state’s history. Who knows what change<br />

can occur if more people learn about local politics and<br />

how they can support Black leaders.<br />

The values behind the actions this organization takes to<br />

protect its community include protecting Black mothers<br />

and women, advocating for LGBTQ+ members, uplifting<br />

all Black voices, advocating for better education and<br />

more. Project Say Something considers Critical Race<br />

theory as an important part of improving education.<br />

Critical race theory or CRT is defined as “an academic<br />

and legal framework that denotes that systemic racism is<br />

part of American society — from education and housing<br />

to employment and healthcare,” by The NAACP Legal<br />

Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. CRT was prohibited<br />

to be taught in schools in Alabama in October of 2021.<br />

Terri Sewell<br />

Benjamin Turner<br />



ROYAL<br />


On May 19, 2018, actress Meghan Markle wed<br />

Prince Harry, the Prince of Wales, amid<br />

fanfare and gossip. Markle, showcased<br />

for Black women the possibility of a fairytale happy<br />

ending told to them as children.<br />

Quickly being addressed as princess from the<br />

announcement of the engagement, gave a sense<br />

of pride and boastfulness of royal representation.<br />

Even though Markle’s presence within the royal<br />

family was new for the then current time, Black<br />

women have royal connections throughout history<br />

as queens and rulers of nations, where they were<br />

the norm and not the exception.<br />

Beginning within biblical times, the Queen of<br />

Sheba (Ethiopia) is mentioned in both the Old and<br />

New Testament. Given different names such as the<br />

Queen of Saba, Makeda, and Queen Bilquis in Arabic<br />

text, she is described as wise with a harmonious<br />

and prosperous rule during her reign in Ethiopia<br />

and Yemen.<br />

The Queen of Sheba’s story spans the texts of<br />

Christian, Jewish, and Islamic, each elaborating on<br />

her story as a generous ruler gifted in commerce<br />

and trade. Her story when discussed in Christian<br />

texts details her interaction with King Solomon<br />

to test his wisdom with three riddles and the later<br />

relationship resulting in a son, Menelik I.<br />

Her reign also speaks about her battle against<br />

King Axum because of his terrorizing of the<br />

northern Ethiopian kingdom. Her victory led to<br />

tales of her strength. Also, according to historical<br />

records she and her son Menelik returned the Ark<br />

of the Covenant to Axum; crediting her with the<br />

lineage of the East African and Nubian kings being<br />

established.<br />

Makeda’s reign is rooted in religious texts and<br />

historical accounts as tales of her rule showed her<br />

abilities and the care she showed when concerning<br />

her people. Her protection and economic mindset<br />

helped to sustain her country and its citizens. Who<br />

she was included more than her relationship — a<br />

detail shown with other Black queens through<br />

history and the unique qualities that made them<br />

memorable and influential.<br />


Continuing in the vein of famous queens, Queen Nefertiti<br />

ruled Egypt alongside her husband, Pharaoh Akhenaton<br />

from 1353-1336 BCE. She birthed six daughters during<br />

their marriage, with two of her daughters eventually<br />

becoming queens of Egypt. During her reign, Egypt had a<br />

cultural shift in religion from polytheism to monotheism,<br />

specifically the Sun God, Aton.<br />

Queen Nefertiti’s influence went further with her role<br />

as High Priestess towards the Sun God, Aton, acting as<br />

a direct line to the deity for worshippers. Also, images<br />

depicting her body shape, clothing in the finest of linens,<br />

and even images of her surrounding her husband’s<br />

sarcophagus depict her in battle, conquering enemies<br />

or driving a chariot. Such imagery spoke to a reverence<br />

and admiration about her, showcasing a duality of her<br />

femininity as well as her strength.<br />

Respect towards Nefertiti was also shown with acting<br />

as queen regnant to her husband or acting as co-ruler.<br />

He valued and honored her opinion in political matters<br />

concerning Egypt. Just as her opinion held importance<br />

during her husband’s reign, it only increased after her<br />

husband’s death in 1334 or 1336 BC.<br />

After her husband’s demise, Nefertiti took action to regain<br />

the favor of the Egyptian public along with ensuring the<br />

success of her family. Nefertiti moved the capital back to<br />

Thebes, increasing favor from the public and Egyptian<br />

priests. Along with reinstating the Egyptian old Gods,<br />

Nefertiti raised her children, including her daughter,<br />

Ankhesenamun along with her stepson and future<br />

emperor Tutankhamun in these beliefs to avoid further<br />

strife or separation.<br />

During her reign, Nefertiti changed her name to<br />

Neferneferuaten and spread this to how she was depicted<br />

in imagery as well. The famous Bust of Nefertiti, located<br />

in Berlin’s Neues Museum, showing her with her unique<br />

headdress-a tall, straight-edged flat top blue crown, was<br />

the last image showing her distinctly as a woman. It is<br />

reported she commanded that no more images be made<br />

of her as a woman—but only as a ruler as researched in<br />

the book, When Women Ruled the World: <strong>Six</strong> Queens of<br />

Egypt by author, Kara Cooney.<br />

Nefertiti (Neferneferuaten) ruled strategically, knowing<br />

what moves to make for the good of her people and country<br />

as well as conducting herself to appease other rulers;<br />

when to lower her eyes or make eye contact, seemingly<br />

fitting in to stand amongst other women rulers.<br />

To quote the statement from Cooney’s book, “More than<br />

any other Egyptian queen, it is Nefertiti who represents<br />

the epitome of true, successful female power.”<br />

Being the first woman to hold such power in Egypt is<br />

seen also with Queen Yargoje of Zamfara, a state in<br />

northwestern Nigeria. Queen Yargoje ruled from 1310-<br />

1350, Yargoje was the eldest daughter of the fifth king of<br />

Zamfara, King Dakka, and despite her royal family tree,<br />

she blazed a path of her own accomplishments.<br />

During her 40 year reign, Yargoje was responsible for<br />

strategic moves benefitting her state, such as moving the<br />

kingdom capital from Dutsi to Kuyambana, reasoning<br />

being explained by Hajara Sadiq, formerly of the History<br />

Bureau of Gusau, “There was also the foresight of getting<br />

a greener environment with fertile land and fertile soil.<br />

The new city was located at the confluence of two rivers.”<br />

Along with this move, Yargoje also became the head of<br />

the Bori cult, a pre-Islamic way of worship. Holding both<br />

titles of such importance was attributed to her courage<br />

along with tales of her possible connection to earlier kings<br />

who formed Hausaland (collection of states formed by the<br />

Hausa people in northern Nigeria), claiming women must<br />

have ruled during that time.<br />

Nevertheless, Queen Yargoje made influential strides<br />

during her reign throughout history making firsts with<br />

the appointment of all female chiefs, a move never seen in<br />

the kingdom. Along with strides in gender representation,<br />

there were also technological advancements.<br />

As further explained by Sadiq, “She also encouraged<br />

science and technology. Archaeological excavations<br />

revealed a highly organized society with relative<br />

advancement in technology. In fact, the Yargoje lamp<br />

which she used for council meetings is a beautiful piece<br />

of indigenous technology.” The ruins of her castle are still<br />

visible in Kuyambana village, reflecting her efforts and<br />

imprint upon her state of Zamfara.<br />

Each of these African queens left an impression that<br />

surpasses their individual reigns and remains a part of<br />

history. Their stories are reflections of who they were as<br />

individuals and to their countries, showcasing each of<br />

their unique strengths.<br />




BEING A<br />


PARENT<br />

While in college, many students have found<br />

that to survive, one must become a semiprofessional<br />

juggler who can skillfully keep<br />

their education, extra-curriculars, friends, fun and<br />

mental wellbeing aloft at the same time.<br />

However, few manage to do so without dropping the ball<br />

on occasion and for students who aren’t just managing<br />

their lives but the lives of children, this juggling act<br />

becomes even more complex.<br />

According to the United States Government Accountability<br />

Office’s 2019 Higher Education report, more than one in<br />

five undergraduate students are raising children, and<br />

about half of student parents left school without a degree.<br />

Yet, the journey isn’t easy for those student parents who<br />

continue to pursue higher education. Student parents<br />

become master jugglers: juggling academics, daycare<br />

schedules, doctor’s appointments and much more.<br />

Kenneshia Dallas, a freshman majoring in hospitality<br />

management, said parenthood has taught her many<br />

lessons about life, like how it’s okay to ask for help.<br />

“You can’t do everything; you can’t be superwoman, and<br />

that’s okay,” Dallas said.<br />

Dallas began college at the University of Alabama as a<br />

first-generation student in 2015. Yet she was unsure what<br />

she wanted to do, so she joined the military, but a week<br />

before she finished, Dallas found out she was pregnant.<br />

She had her baby in 2018, and from there, she focused on<br />

working and figuring out what options she had for her<br />

future.<br />

It wasn’t until the pandemic began in 2020 that she<br />

decided to pursue her education again. After talking<br />

to a UA advisor, Dallas began taking classes at Shelton<br />

State Community College to increase her GPA; then, she<br />

transferred back to The University of Alabama.<br />

The pandemic was a catalyst for many. While Dallas<br />

decided to start back at that time, Christian Thomas, a<br />

junior majoring in news media, had just had her first baby<br />

and decided that it would be best if she didn’t participate<br />

in the Spring semester.<br />


She said she decided not to do the semester because it<br />

was a transitional period for her as a new mother and as<br />

the pandemic swooped in, the semester and following<br />

months became a transition for everyone.<br />

However, when classes began in person again, “it was still<br />

a big change,” and she realized that she preferred online<br />

classes because it allowed for more flexibility with her<br />

schedule than in-person classes offer, whether that’s with<br />

a commute or course schedules.<br />

A need for flexibility with schedules, work and assignments<br />

is an issue many students have, but for students with<br />

children, there’s even more of a need for flexibility and<br />

balance.<br />

“So with also being a parent, I have restless nights, I’m<br />

up late, I don’t get time to do stuff like homework on my<br />

own if I’m at the house, I have to do stuff outside of the<br />

house,” Thomas said. “I feel like there isn’t a way for us<br />

to balance out as mothers; homework assignments, class<br />

times, and also because the child needs your attention<br />

more than anything, especially the older they get. They<br />

want to create a bond with their parent. So it’s been kind<br />

of hard.”<br />

Steven Hood, the University of Alabama’s interim vicepresident<br />

of student life, said as a former student parent<br />

himself during graduate school, balancing the roles<br />

of parent and student, and sometimes even other roles<br />

on top of those, can be difficult. It’s important to give<br />

yourself grace as you navigate that time.<br />

Thomas said the only way she can make it is through<br />

prayer, patience and therapy.<br />

“Even if it was like once a week, I have therapy because<br />

it’s kind of hard finding your own voice sometimes and<br />

figuring out how to balance,” Thomas said.<br />

She said that along with prayer, patience, and therapy,<br />

having a good support system is also important when<br />

finding balance.<br />

“For me being a native of Tuscaloosa, my support system<br />

is all around. I have family and friends that I’ve grown<br />

up with that are around that can help me with my child,<br />

but a lot of other moms don’t have that,” she said. “So I<br />

feel like, for me, that’s been a really good privilege, but I<br />

know if I had gone somewhere else and had to do all this,<br />

it wouldn’t be a balance; it would be extremely hard.”<br />

Hood said the best piece of advice he has for student<br />

parents is to build and rely on a support system, whether<br />

that’s family, a friend group, classmates, anyone who can<br />

encourage you to make progress.<br />

However, a strong support system doesn’t have to be<br />

just family and friends. Many universities offer different<br />

programs and opportunities to help student parents<br />

achieve their goals.<br />

According to UA’s Office for Academic Affairs, the<br />

University’s resources for parenting students include<br />

designated lactation rooms, a parent<br />

resource library in the Child<br />

Development Resource Center,<br />

a parenting assistance line and<br />

graduate school parent support,<br />

an organization whose goal is to<br />

provide support to students<br />

while also connecting them<br />

to the University and local<br />

community resources.<br />

The Child Development<br />

Research Center also has<br />

the Children’s Program,<br />

a childcare service that<br />

serves 114 children from<br />

two months old to five<br />

years old.<br />

Though these<br />

resources are<br />

listed on various<br />

UA sites, Dallas<br />

and Thomas<br />

said they were<br />

both aware of<br />

the Children’s<br />

Program; the other<br />

resources offered<br />

to student parents<br />

weren’t something<br />

they were aware of.<br />


48<br />

And though these resources might be at the<br />

University, with a lack of visibility, it has left<br />

Thomas feeling as if students like her are not<br />

considered.<br />

“It feels like they accommodate the students<br />

who are just college students. They don’t<br />

see parents, pregnant women, even elderly<br />

people that go to UA, that aren’t in grad<br />

school,” Thomas said.<br />

Jeremy Henderson, the director of student<br />

care and wellbeing, said there are resources<br />

for all students that student parents might<br />

want to use, like the UA Counseling Center.<br />

There are also other resources for student<br />

parents like the parent assistant line.<br />

Still, the University doesn’t directly offer a<br />

number of those resources so that might be<br />

why they aren’t visible to everyone.<br />

However, Henderson said though some<br />

resources can be helpful, “there may be a<br />

number of unmet needs for” student parents,<br />

and he would love to learn more about them.<br />

While programs themselves are extremely<br />

important, it’s also important to have faculty<br />

and staff who are understanding.<br />

To help encourage that understanding, Hood<br />

said it’s important to communicate quickly<br />

and clearly with professors and advisors<br />

when you’re struggling.<br />

Thomas said she’d had professors who have<br />

been helpful and worked with her; however,<br />

some weren’t as accommodating.<br />

“<strong>No</strong>wadays, in recent terms, I still have some<br />

professors who are understanding,” Thomas<br />

said. “But I still maybe have like one professor<br />

per semester that’s kind of like, ‘well, I still<br />

have this policy here,’ not really caring<br />

thinking their class is more important than<br />

my mental wellbeing and the fact that I have<br />

other needs outside of what they need.”<br />

Dallas said she hasn’t felt any support from<br />

her professors, but she has felt support from<br />

her employer, Darrien Simmons, the UA<br />

student center’s director, who helped her<br />

when she was in crisis.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t only is it important that student parents<br />

feel supported, there’s also a certain level of<br />

isolation that can creep in.<br />

Dallas said she was walking around campus<br />

thinking she was the only student parent<br />

because of a lack of community.<br />

“I don’t feel like women or even fathers on<br />

campus have a support system where they<br />

can go talk about their problems, look for<br />

people who can help them,” Thomas said. “I<br />

feel like it’s just nothing here on campus to<br />

help.”<br />

Hood said in Student Life, they want to<br />

make sure that all students feel welcome and<br />

have the resources and support they need<br />

to succeed and thrive, including student<br />

parents.<br />

While trying to succeed and find community,<br />

Thomas advised student parents not to be<br />

afraid to speak up about being a parent.<br />

“I was ashamed at first, when I was only a few<br />

months pregnant, walking around campus<br />

until I couldn’t hide anymore. I felt like there<br />

were moments where my self-esteem was<br />

really bad,” she said. “Find those friends, ask<br />

them to find support for us, tell them to tell<br />

their friends and other organizations, ‘hey,<br />

we need to do something for moms, they’re<br />

struggling, we need to do something for<br />

dads on campus that are single fathers that<br />

they’re struggling, they need help’.”<br />

For student parents who are interested<br />

in creating support for other student<br />

parents, Henderson said student care and<br />

wellbeing would love to serve as an advocate<br />

for students “who have identified gaps in<br />

resources and problem-solve with students<br />

to create solutions to address those gaps.”<br />

He said he invites any student to contact him<br />

directly at Jeremy.henderson@ua.edu.







50<br />

Many young Black athletes<br />

dream of playing in either<br />

the NBA, the NFL, the<br />

WNBA, or some other professional<br />

league. To have your name on the<br />

back of a jersey and hear hundreds of<br />

thousands of fans cheer your name is<br />

something only few get to experience.<br />

That experience is not the same for<br />

everyone and leagues across the board<br />

are consistently failing Black athletes.<br />

The athletic ability and success of<br />

Black athletes are well documented.<br />

From the Williams sisters to Simone<br />

Biles, Black athletes have gone above<br />

and beyond the standard set by the<br />

generation before them. Surprisingly,<br />

many athletes’ started their journey at<br />

the playground.<br />

“In most of the schools I attended<br />

throughout my childhood, my<br />

classmates tended to be a healthy<br />

mix of all races — but at every stop, I<br />

found that Black students consistently<br />

dominated the playground,” Reagan<br />

Griffin Jr, writer for The Guardian, said.<br />

Is this trend because of genetics?<br />

Are Black kids and people just simply<br />

athletically superior to their white<br />

counterparts?<br />

Stereotypes such as these eventually<br />

crept its way into the higher levels of<br />

athletics. Sportswriters, commentators,<br />

and analysts gawk at how Black athletes<br />

have an inherently higher level of<br />

athletic ability.<br />

To spectators, these stereotypes are<br />

supported by the surplus of Black<br />

athletes in major American sports<br />

leagues. In March 2021, Black athletes<br />

made up around 41% of the rosters in<br />

the five major American sports leagues.<br />

Black athletes reach the top of their<br />

respective sports, so genetics must be<br />

the reason why.<br />

But that’s just simply not the case.<br />

According to a 2011 study by Oregon<br />

State University zoologist Josef Uyeda,<br />

rapid changes in a population don’t<br />

continue, stay around or spread through<br />

a certain species.<br />

In other words, just because humans<br />

are faster and stronger now doesn’t<br />

mean they will be 200, 2,000 or even<br />

1,000,000 years from now.<br />

“Rapid evolution is clearly a reality over<br />

fairly short time periods, sometimes<br />

just a few generations,” Uyeda said.<br />

“But those rapid changes do not always<br />

persist and may be confined to small<br />

populations. For reasons that are not<br />

completely clear, the data shows the<br />

long-term dynamics of evolution to be<br />

quite slow.”<br />

It’s only been over 400 years since Black<br />

people were taken from their homes and<br />

sold into slavery in the Americas during

the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Based on the study, that’s<br />

not enough time for Black people to become genetically<br />

and athletically superior to their white counterparts.<br />

In fact, this evolution may not even become reality.<br />

The myth around Black athletic superiority exists because<br />

for many young Black kids, sports are the only way to<br />

achieve success.<br />

The presence of Black people in major American sports<br />

is vast. However, when one looks at the demographics of<br />

sports like tennis, gymnastics, soccer, golf, baseball and<br />

other sports, the Black population begins to dwindle.<br />

So much to the point that it’s clearly evident that Black<br />

people can only dominate the sports they have access to.<br />

Take soccer for an example. The U.S. has been successful in<br />

the international arena, winning World Cups and Olympic<br />

medals. But, it cannot — nor should it — be overlooked<br />

that the rosters of these winning teams are predominantly<br />

white.<br />

Soccer has catapulted several stars from slums and<br />

impoverished neighborhoods into stardom, but that isn’t<br />

the case in the U.S.<br />

“The system is not working for the underserved<br />

community,” Doug Andreassen, former chairman for the<br />

U.S. Soccer Diversity Task Force, said. “It’s working for the<br />

white kids.”<br />

America is only 31 years into its soccer boom, but little has<br />

changed in providing equitable access to the sport.<br />

A 2013 University of Chicago study examined the effects of<br />

the pay-to-play system on American soccer. Roger Bennett<br />

and Greg Kaplan compared the background of every U.S.<br />

national men’s team member from 1993 to 2013 to NBA allstars<br />

and NFL pro bowlers.<br />

The results of this study may be unsurprising to few.<br />

The players came from communities that had higher<br />

incomes, education and employment rankings, and were<br />

whiter than the U.S. average. Basketball and football<br />

players were from places that ranked lower than average<br />

on the same demographics.<br />

Perception is key to the equity gap in soccer. Former<br />

American soccer player Briana Scurry said the sport<br />

is viewed as a “white, Suburban sport.” In fact, Scurry<br />

didn’t even know about soccer until her family moved to a<br />

suburban community.<br />

It’s safe to say little has been done to change that<br />

perception.<br />

Expensive equipment and fees coupled with limited access<br />

and exposure forces Black athletes to play football and<br />

basketball. That leads to a high Black population in those<br />

sports and low Black populations in the others.<br />

From the moment people step foot into the U.S., they<br />

are told about the “American Dream —” the concept that<br />

anyone from any background can achieve success in this<br />

country. However, it’s no secret that Black people in the<br />

U.S. have limited chances to achieve the “American Dream.”<br />

From microaggressions, financial inequalities, pop culture<br />

and the education system, Black people are often forced to<br />

limit their aspirations.<br />

Due to centuries of injustice towards African-American<br />

communities, Black kids grow up believing their options<br />

are limited. Their opportunities seem significantly smaller<br />

than their white counterparts.<br />

It’s ok to dream about playing in the NFL, the NBA or any<br />

other professional sport. White kids dream about that,<br />

too. What’s not ok is how that dream is used — through<br />

systemic inequalities — to force Black kids into a corner.<br />

Black kids, then, become desperate to find a way to the top<br />

and for most, it’s the sport they fell in love with so long<br />

ago.<br />

What’s a choice for white kids is sometimes the only<br />

option for Black kids.<br />

“Whites, being the dominant group in the society, have<br />

access to all means toward achieving desirable valuables<br />

defined by the society,” Dr. Harry Edwards wrote. “Black<br />

[people], on the other hand, are channeled into one or two<br />

endeavors open to them — sports, and to a lesser degree<br />

— entertainment.”<br />

Black athletes aren’t inherently athletically superior.<br />

There are just little options for Black kids and that needs<br />

to change.<br />

Since 2008, the numbers have tightened, but the gap is<br />

still there.<br />



C.J. THOMAS<br />



EX<br />







The average age of a Black Panther member was quite<br />

young, around 20 years old.<br />

“Black Power is giving power to people who have not had<br />

power to determine their destiny.” –Huey P. Newton






It’s no secret that certain stories, voices and groups<br />

have been silenced throughout history. Books have<br />

been banned, stories have been pulled and voices<br />

have been hushed for the comfort of one group.<br />

When the U.S. was first founded, the Founding Fathers<br />

drafted the Bill of Rights, detailing every right<br />

Americans would have while they lived in the States.<br />

One of those rights was the freedom of speech. Every<br />

American would have the right to freely express any<br />

emotion they had through songs, books, poems, and<br />

other forms of art.<br />

Just so long as those thoughts, ideas and feelings didn’t<br />

offend anyone.<br />

America is a country built on the idea of freedom in<br />

every aspect of life. But there have been times where<br />

that freedom is not experienced by every group. When<br />

Black people were removed from their homes and<br />

brought to the Americas, they also brought plenty of<br />

stories, songs, and voices with them.<br />

But by the time those people reached the Americas,<br />

those stories were gone.<br />

Black people were forced to assimilate into American<br />

culture.<br />

Of course, the voices of Black people never completely<br />

went silenced. As slavery and oppression wore on in<br />

America, the cries for freedom got louder.<br />

In August 1831, Virginia pastor Nat Turner led a bloody<br />

revolt in Southampton County, Virginia that lasted<br />

around 24 hours. The revolt killed 55 white people and<br />

led to the execution of 55 enslaved people. However, this<br />

rebellion did more than just violence.<br />

It led to sweeping reform across Virginia and the United<br />

States. Lawmakers wanted to prevent enslaved people<br />

from being able to assemble and become educated.<br />

The very freedoms the Bill of Rights promised every<br />

American were stripped away from Black people.<br />

At the time of this revolt, only 10% of enslaved people<br />

in the South were literate. But this was still too high<br />

of a rate for slave owners. Literacy gave Black people<br />

power. With power came knowledge. With knowledge<br />

came rebellions.<br />

“An educated enslaved person was a dangerous person<br />

[to slave owners],” said Clarence Lusane, a professor at<br />

Howard University.<br />

In April 1831, Virginia lawmakers passed a law that<br />

forbade any gatherings to teach freed African<br />

Americans how to read or write. In 1833, lawmakers<br />

in Alabama stated that any person that tried to teach<br />

a free or enslaved Black person would be fined no less<br />

than $250.<br />

If this law was passed in 2022, the fine would be no less<br />

than $8,367.<br />

It became increasingly clear that the fear of rebellion<br />

and abolitionism fueled these laws. White people could<br />

control illiterate Black people. They could dictate what<br />

Black people learned, what they viewed as right or<br />


wrong, what they actually knew about the world around<br />

them.<br />

“Anti-literacy laws were written in response to the rise of<br />

abolitionism in the north,” author Patrick Breen said.<br />

Black people kept learning how to read and write despite<br />

the consequences they would face. Some slave owners<br />

encouraged this as well. The more educated a Black<br />

person was, the more sophisticated jobs they received.<br />

The laws and codes put in place were just a bandage on<br />

a gaping wound. <strong>No</strong>thing could stop enslaved and free<br />

African Americans from becoming literate. Lawmakers in<br />

the South could no longer constrict Black people’s view<br />

on the world.<br />

“Literacy promotes thought and raises consciousness,”<br />

Sarah Roth, professor and creator of The Nat Turner<br />

Project, said. “It helps you to get outside of your own<br />

cultural constraints and think about things from a totally<br />

different angle.”<br />

Literacy became one of the greatest tools in ending<br />

slavery in America. However, it didn’t end racially charged<br />

censorship in America.<br />

With more and more Black people seeking the highest<br />

levels of education and creativity, censorship efforts also<br />

grew.<br />

The rise of the civil rights movement spurred many Black<br />

leaders, writers and teachers to the forefront of change.<br />

Black stories and voices were, once again, an important<br />

talking point in American politics.<br />

Malcolm X was one of the leading voices. His opinions<br />

on non-peaceful protesting, Black nationalism and Black<br />

pride dominated much of the Civil Rights movement. His<br />

words led to him being followed, attacked and eventually<br />

assassinated.<br />

Just like they tried to do during his life, white people<br />

tried to censor Malcolm’s words posthumously.<br />

Malcolm, along with writer Alex Haley, wrote The<br />

Autobiography of Malcolm X. The book detailed Malcolm’s<br />

life, death, political views and the pivotal trip to Mecca. It<br />

was an important piece of Black history and media.<br />

That didn’t stop people from trying to limit the novel’s<br />

significance.<br />

In 2014, teachers at Public School 201 in Flushing, New<br />

York told fourth grade students that Malcolm was a “bad”<br />

and “violent” activist. The teachers also forbade the<br />

students from writing about Malcolm.<br />

About 43% of the 477 students at the school in 2014 were<br />

Black.<br />

Parents were upset about the matter, stating that the<br />

teachers were imposing their personal opinions on the<br />

students. The department of education in Flushing<br />

responded to the parents’ concerns.<br />

“Malcolm X is a historical figure and a hero to many<br />

New Yorkers that we believe should be celebrated in our<br />

schools,” agency spokesman Devon Puglia said.<br />

Erasing pieces of Black history isn’t a new trend, but in<br />

2021, it found a new target: critical race theory.<br />

The term “critical race theory” was created more than 40<br />

years ago by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw<br />


and Richard Delgado to explore the intersectionality<br />

of race and law in America. It was designed to examine<br />

American liberal approaches to racial justice.<br />

However, CRT rose to mainstream notoriety when<br />

American conservatives began the fight against teaching<br />

it.<br />

Schools stopped teaching certain aspects of Black history.<br />

Chapters about slavery and the civil rights movement were<br />

removed from textbooks. Conservative organizations<br />

criticized the validity of critical race theory.<br />

“When followed to its logical conclusion, CRT is<br />

destructive and rejects the fundamental ideas on which<br />

our constitutional republic is based,” the Heritage<br />

Foundation claimed.<br />

Arguably the biggest issue that has come out of banning<br />

critical race theory is knowing where the line is. That line<br />

being free speech. Where does limiting the teaching of<br />

CRT end and limiting free speech begin?<br />

Or is limiting CRT also limiting free speech?<br />

schools of thought like psychology and research in racist<br />

practices. The crusade to limit CRT has now — whether<br />

intentionally or not — become a crusade of limiting<br />

diverse academia.<br />

“Administrators, among the most risk-averse people in<br />

the known universe, will err on the side of canceling<br />

programs and courses,” Kruse said. “Only the brave and<br />

the foolish will teach ethnic studies in Ohio in the future.”<br />

Despite being almost 200 years apart, the goals of<br />

lawmakers in 1831 and 2022 remain the same: limit<br />

different views of culture and the world. When one takes<br />

a critical lens of the actions of these lawmakers, one thing<br />

becomes clear.<br />

These laws are designed to make white people feel<br />

comfortable and for Black people to have no voice.<br />

Censorship — no matter what form it takes — chooses<br />

what stories are more important. It chooses what voices<br />

matter.<br />

It chooses what race matters.<br />

Timothy Messler-Kruse is a professor of ethnic studies at<br />

Bowling Green University in Ohio. The state legislature<br />

is close to passing House Bill 327. The bill defines several<br />

ideas that shouldn’t be taught in any public school or<br />

university.<br />

Most of the concepts in the bill — like teaching that one<br />

race is superior or inferior to others — are ideas Kruse<br />

teaches against. But, as the bill reads on, the ideas become<br />

increasingly more vague.<br />

The vagueness of the bill reaches over into other<br />







60<br />

I<br />

heard a saying the other day that when America<br />

catches a cold, the Black man catches the flu and I have<br />

never been the same since. After hearing this saying, I<br />

began to dwell on how I got here and the amount of work<br />

that I would put in; trying to run away from that flu, not<br />

knowing that I was running myself into my own casket. I<br />

know you’re probably thinking, “damn is this nigga about<br />

to talk about his near death experience?” Well, don’t<br />

worry, I’m not. But, I will talk about how I was so busy<br />

running from what I had assumed was the flu, the fear of<br />

not succeeding, that I could not see what the real sickness<br />

was. The risks I felt obligated to take in order to succeed<br />

in a society that does everything in its power to stop me.<br />

For most Black men, they experience this “flu-like”<br />

phenomenon in the everyday big boy workforce but for<br />

me, my “workforce” was competitive speech and debate.<br />

This is part of the story where you can laugh if you’d<br />

like because things are about to get really dark from<br />

this point on...no pun intended. Yah know I don’t think<br />

people get it at all, the pressure that comes with being<br />

a Black competitor in speech and debate. The amount of<br />

work it takes to drop your ebonics. The amount of work<br />

that it takes just to walk up in front of a room filled<br />

with mostly white competitors. To pour your heart out<br />

to a panel of mostly white judges and hope to God that<br />

their support is not pseudo and that they are there for<br />

you. That they want to hear your story and not the story<br />

that institutionalized racism has created for them. But<br />

the hard work doesn’t stop there and shit, if i’m being<br />

honest, I don’t quite know where it begins.<br />

I remember the first day I held a balck book in my hand.<br />

The color of its skin reminded me of the weight that the<br />

stories inside of it would carry. A weight heavy enough to<br />

break the stigma; to demolish every building in my path.<br />

My stories carry oppression and pain and power and the<br />

ammunition to shoot bullets through the glass ceilings<br />

that were made to incase me and place me on display to<br />

be the “good Black” the “proper Black” the Black who’s<br />

“not like the rest of them.” But sometimes I feel as if<br />

forensics isn’t the only thing to blame for my assumed<br />

“assimilation.” I received so much backlash for attending<br />

a predominantly white institution and competing on<br />

a predominantly white forensics team Even before<br />

forensics, I wasn’t like the “rest of them.” The other<br />

Black boys wore football cleats, I wore dress shoes. They<br />

spoke like a “nigga” where as I spoke “white” as my peers<br />

would say. I always felt white and I hated that feeling. It<br />

removed so many of my experiences that Black boys are<br />

supposed to experience. There’s a picture of me from my<br />

first speech and debate tournament that always makes me<br />

feel something. I was wearing a purple dress shirt with<br />

a Black suit that was composed of two different Blacks.<br />

What the hell was I thinking? Yes, you can laugh here.<br />

Anyways, when I examine this picture, I regret not being<br />

able to travel back in time to notify younger me about the<br />

amount of work that it will take for a heavyset Black boy


to craft himself into a national champion in this event. To<br />

tell him that everything he will endure from that point on<br />

until now, will be worth the endurance.<br />

I was supported by my community but I never felt as if I<br />

were connected to its roots. I was supported by my family<br />

but I never felt as if we shared the same blood. It took so<br />

much work, participating in this event. I had to combat<br />

an identity crisis while taking on other people’s identities<br />

every weekend. For those of you that dont know about<br />

interpretation events, it’s all about character pops and<br />

dramatic page turns. My classmates would call me white.<br />

My teammates were white. My friends were white. My<br />

partners were white. My community was white. Speech<br />

& Debate, when I started winning, allowed me to evade<br />

discrimination and become naive to the very same stories<br />

that I would spread in speech rounds. Police officers knew<br />

who I was so I never fit the “description.” My teachers<br />

would follow my speech success so I was always presumed<br />

to be a “good” kid. When I would put on my speech suit<br />

and rack in speaker points, I lived a cookie cutter life but<br />

when the super suit came off, I was poor, Black, obeese<br />

and queer. It took work to survive the identity crisis that<br />

both the speech community and the Black community<br />

had put me through. Living in a society that makes you<br />

feel as if you are a stain on an all white t-shirt. Where<br />

no bleach products such as, prison systems, glass ceilings<br />

and police brutality can get rid of you made me feel like<br />

being a successful Black man, granted me white privilege.<br />

For me, it was never a glass ceiling, there was never just<br />

glass above me. Glass surrounded me, It trapped me. It<br />

made me feel like an artifact on display, an exhibit in a<br />

museum where my body didn’t matter, only my voice,<br />

because my Black body was never deemed worthy in an<br />

event such as speech, it was only a case containing my<br />

“proper” voice that made me competitive. So here I am,<br />

a beautiful sculpture that is supposed to be happy to be<br />

in one of the most competitive well known art museums,<br />

but I still feel as if society is only fascinated by my voice.<br />

Learning to love your body and the skin that you are in<br />

takes work. It takes overworking yourself to turn the<br />

pages in a Black book that carry your insecurities. It takes<br />

work to pick up the pieces of you that you tossed to the<br />

floor to make room for everything that society takes away<br />

from you.<br />

So I work effortlessly sacrificing sleep and my mental<br />

health and humanity hoping to be heard before seen and<br />

listened to before corrected by society, or supremacy or a<br />

ballot. To be Black and in speech is to be like John Henry,<br />

yes the one from disney. It is to drill every ounce of hood<br />

out of you because presentation is everything.<br />

So I work effortlessly sacrificing sleep and my mental<br />

health and my humanity hoping to be deemed acceptable<br />

into a presumed safe space. When I tell you all that burnout<br />

is real, will you actually believe me? Will you hear me<br />

when I say that I am referring to my mental health, or will<br />

you be like most judges and assume that the only thing<br />

I talk about is my skin? To be Black and a competitive<br />

speaker is to be an artifact, a rarity and in some minds,<br />

white. I worked hard because at a young age I learned<br />

that being Black meant carrying the assumptions of my<br />

people around with me wherever I went.<br />

Whether it be the classroom or the competition,<br />

working hard is never a choice for me, it is a survival<br />

tactic resulting from living in a world that wanted me<br />

uneducated, voiceless, and dead. A world where you<br />

are your generation’s John Henry. Except this time, you<br />

aren’t dying from overusing a tool, you’re dying from<br />

being that overused tool. Except this time, the white<br />

man isn’t peer pressuring you into making yourself out<br />

to be an overused tool. It is the man that you see in the<br />

mirror, that is making you overuse yourself. Day after day<br />

after day, sitting there, on display, inside of a glass case<br />

watching success surround you but never being able to<br />

break through the class to touch it. Most sculptures are<br />

crafted out of marble, but you are different. You are as<br />

black as charcoal and crafted out of obsidian. So sit there,<br />

in a now cold room and bathe in all of your Black beauty,<br />

breathe in and remember, When america catches a cold,<br />

the Black man breathes his last brea-.<br />



UNDER<br />


The Strained Relationship between Mental Health<br />

and the Pursuit of Higher Education<br />

As students prepare to enter into the system<br />

of higher education, they are faced with<br />

unprecedented issues. A looming pandemic with<br />

new variants, cultural shifts, civil unrest, and more are<br />

looming over their heads as they navigate new chapters<br />

of life. It’s been generally understood that pursuing a<br />

college degree is no small feat. One’s mental health will<br />

be tested as it’s never been tested before. But it’s time to<br />

get real about the mental health crisis that researchers<br />

have warned us about. We’re in uncharted territory, with<br />

little visible plans.<br />

According to The Healthy Minds Study, 40% of American<br />

college students experienced at least one major depressive<br />

episode that year. 80% of college students reported that<br />

the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their<br />

mental health in a survey performed by Active Minds.<br />

The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone in doors and in<br />

a state of concern. Students were asked to go home and<br />

participate in distance learning.<br />

This resulted in self-care routines taking a devastating<br />

hit. According to Active Minds, 76% of students have<br />

trouble maintaining a routine, 73% struggle to get<br />

adequate physical activity and 63% find it challenging to<br />

connect with others. Without adequate exercise or a sense<br />

of community, what can we expect of college students?<br />

The boom of social media usage allowed students to<br />

express just how overwhelmed they are. It was our only<br />

means to participate in a community for some time. Social<br />

media also was the backbone for many social movements<br />

experienced in our time.<br />

The murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor placed<br />

the discussion around the value of Black life at the<br />

forefront. <strong>No</strong>t only are Black students having to navigate a<br />

looming pandemic with impending assignments; but, now<br />

they are also tasked with having difficult conversations<br />

about institutionalized racism inside and outside of the<br />

classroom.<br />

Mental health is not a new concern among college<br />

students; but, we are entering an age of transparency. In<br />

2010, the National Survey of Counseling Center Directors<br />

reported 44% of their clients having severe psychological<br />

problems. In 2000, they reported 16%. These numbers<br />

may appear daunting but imagine how many students<br />

didn’t feel safe enough to report their concerns in 2000.<br />

Imagine how rigid the stigma around mental health was.<br />

Students of color weren’t even able to recognize the<br />

intersection of mental health and systemic racism in<br />

the way that we can now. Intersections were not even<br />

recognized until the mid-2000s, let alone researched.<br />

We’re able to have these conversations about the running<br />

list of issues that affect our mental wellbeing but we<br />

always end up asking the same question. What now?<br />

The answer is complex and requires effort from every<br />

community, generation, and governing body. However,<br />

this ultimately boils down to transparency. We have to<br />

make mental health a regular topic of conversation.<br />

<strong>No</strong> one silences the person who screams when they’ve<br />

sustained a bodily injury. So, why are we silencing people<br />

who recognize that they’re struggling mentally?<br />


Throw out strength-based narratives such as “the strong<br />

Black woman” and “emotionless men.” Black women are<br />

strong but they are also soft, caring, and whatever they<br />

decide to be. They deserve to be heard in every way.<br />

Men, there is no strength in denying your emotions.<br />

Transparency isn’t weakness but a faith-based act of<br />

courage. It is okay to not be okay.<br />

This also means playing an active role in the lives of<br />

people you care about. Be an active friend, family member,<br />

partner, etc. If you’ve noticed your classmate feeling<br />

sluggish, invite them to come to the Student Recreation<br />

Center with you. Ask your friend if they want to go get<br />

lunch somewhere after class. Let someone do the same<br />

for you.<br />

This can clearly translate into academic practices. Office<br />

hours with professors aren’t only reserved for test review.<br />

Approach them if you need help handling the semester.<br />

Many are open and willing to work with students.<br />

Institutions, be more active and accountable in the role you<br />

play in this issue. We can’t give out t-shirts and stress balls<br />

in student centers while trying to force an unworkable<br />

course load with little to no resources on many students<br />

across the country. Understand that accessible education<br />

and healthy wellbeing practices means placing the student<br />

before the profits. Counseling centers need more funding<br />

and overall backing. We have to treat them as necessary<br />

landmarks on a student’s journey to education. This longstanding<br />

concern will always seem like an unconquerable<br />

mountain, if institutions insist on sitting at the top while<br />

peering down at the rest of us.<br />

The relationship between good mental health and success<br />

in higher education has always been a contentious one.<br />

Transparency is not just a want but an absolute need if we<br />

are ever going to see true progress.<br />




<strong>No</strong>w Open!<br />

Visit sheltonstate.edu to apply and register!<br />

It is the policy of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees and Shelton State Community College, a<br />

postsecondary institution under its control, that no person shall, on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion,<br />

marital status, disability, gender, age, or any other protected class as defined by federal and state law, be excluded<br />

from participation, denied benefits, or subjected to discrimination under any program, activity, or employment.


OFF THE<br />

FIELD<br />

Alajajuan Sparks, Jr.<br />

Standing at a towering 6’5” Alajajuan Sparks<br />

Jr. is very accustomed to having a natural<br />

presence. Don’t let this stature fool you,<br />

this sophomore offensive lineman for the<br />

Alabama Crimson Tide Football team enjoys<br />

having fun and being around friends.<br />

“I guess my friends do somewhat regard me<br />

as a ‘life of the party’ type. I love to laugh<br />

and things like that,” says Alajajuan.<br />

He collects a decent bit of his pieces from<br />

local vintage stores and leans strongly<br />

toward the Nike brand, stating that<br />

the majority of his shoes are Nike<br />

and Jordan.<br />

From his very relaxed and friendly<br />

demeanor to his limited-edition<br />

kicks, Alajajuan finds comfort in<br />

being a very authentic version of<br />

himself.<br />

He also recalled his love for music with R&B<br />

being one of his most listened to genres.<br />

Sparks even sang tenor in the choir when he<br />

was younger.<br />

Sparks regards his hobbies as secondary.<br />

If it’s not related to school or football,<br />

it’ll have to wait until the weekend. These<br />

hobbies include playing 2K, Madden, and<br />

Grand Theft Auto franchise games. Sparks is<br />

excited with the upcoming NCAA franchise<br />

and the possibility of adding a virtual<br />

version of himself on his team.<br />

“It’d be cool but we’ll see if that comes<br />

out while I’m still in school,” he said while<br />

looking down at his beige Nike sneakers<br />

with African-inspired print detailing. A very<br />

avid shoe collector, Sparks is proud of his<br />

closet which features streetwear staples.<br />


Kolbi Coleman<br />

Kolbi Coleman, a freshman forward on<br />

Alabama’s Women’s Soccer Team, is far more<br />

than just a fierce competitor. Balancing life<br />

can be a bit difficult, she admits. It’s no small<br />

feat but this Chemical Engineering major<br />

has huge goals.<br />

“It can be a struggle to balance. It’s not a lot<br />

of homework but it is a lot of studying. Our<br />

tests are brutal,” Coleman said.<br />

When asked about her passions she<br />

mentioned her hair and art. She picked up<br />

doing her own hair over quarantine and<br />

quickly became skillful.<br />

“I was stuck in the house,” Coleman said<br />

while combing through her long burgundy<br />

braids with her fingers. “This hair needed to<br />

get done so I’m like ‘Why not’.”<br />

Since coming to Alabama, Kolbi has realized<br />

her passion for diversity and representation.<br />

Coleman is a founder of Project ID, an<br />

organization designed for student-athletes<br />

of color at The University of Alabama to<br />

create community, express their thoughts,<br />

and break campus barriers. <strong>No</strong>t to be<br />

mistaken with the Student-Athlete Advisory<br />

Committee, Project ID aims to provide a<br />

space where student-athletes of color can<br />

express their feelings while existing at<br />

several potential intersections of identity.<br />

Coleman speaks of the chance to address the<br />

barrier between non-athletic students and<br />

student-athletes.<br />

“It’s also going to be a platform for us to<br />

show what the student-athlete body really<br />

looks like and just give us a chance to get out<br />

into our communities... even to network,”<br />

Coleman said.<br />

Kolbi has a lot of aspirations for the budding<br />

organization and even more inspiration for<br />

her expanding art portfolio. But one thing is<br />

for certain, she’s confident and determined.<br />



Stereotypes permeate our society through<br />

media depictions and social interactions.<br />

Popular stereotypes are often based on<br />

race, gender, or class.<br />

THE “ANGRY”<br />


Experiencing both a combination of race and<br />

gender, Black women are faced with stereotypes<br />

of being mean, aggressive, or overly assertive. A<br />

perception that created the “Angry Black Woman,” a<br />

label that stereotypes Black women and manipulates<br />

characteristics about them into a negative light.<br />

In a 2019 NPR interview, Dr. Brittney Cooper<br />

discussed utilizing the power of anger in her<br />

book, Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her<br />

Superpower. Cooper, an Associate Professor of<br />

Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University,<br />

gives reasoning to what this label for Black women<br />

means in broader, societal terms.<br />

“Whenever someone weaponizes anger against<br />

Black women, it is designed to silence them. It is<br />

designed to discredit them and to say that they are<br />

overreacting, that they are being hypersensitive,<br />

that their reaction is outsized,” said Cooper.<br />

Black women’s reactions not being taken seriously or<br />

seen as exaggerations are another way of silencing<br />

them and relegating them to being background<br />

characters in their own narratives. Instead of being<br />

acknowledged as an individual along with their<br />

experiences being seen as valid, Black women are<br />

placed back into their proverbial box with the<br />

stereotypes of overreacting, being too loud, or<br />

taking things too personal.<br />

The emotional response of anger is normal and<br />

should be seen as such when an individual has been<br />

disrespected, but this courtesy is not granted to<br />

Black women. Black women aren’t allowed to be seen<br />

as complex individuals.<br />

“Black women are generally framed as either angry,<br />

strong or both. While anger and rage are a reasonable<br />

response to oppression, the danger is that it<br />

caricatures and dehumanizes Black women, making<br />

them instant memes while refusing to engage them<br />


as emotionally intelligent and vulnerable,” said Dr. Robin<br />

Boylorn.<br />

Boylorn, a professor in the Communication Studies<br />

department at The University of Alabama, connects her<br />

comment with the notion that if a woman is not smiling<br />

or in some state of happiness, she is perceived to be angry.<br />

For Black women, this works against them even more in<br />

combating perceptions of being less than and the capacity<br />

to showcase only one emotion.<br />

Digging deeper into this stereotype the history of which<br />

spans into the spheres of academia and popular culture.<br />

The feminist theorist, Patricia Hill Collins, coined a series<br />

of intellectual frameworks that shape the ideas about<br />

Black women, one being “controlling images.”<br />

The controlling images framework encompasses historical<br />

stereotypes from slavery, being labeled as either a mammy,<br />

jezebel, or sapphire. Images showing Black women only<br />

as overworked laborers, hypersexual, or too angry. All of<br />

which expanded into media interpretations, fueling and<br />

framing the public’s view of Black women.<br />

One influential media depiction was the 1950’s television<br />

show, Amos N’ Andy. Friend of the main character, Sapphire<br />

Stevens was shown as an aggressive and demanding<br />

woman. With the popularity of the show, the character<br />

of Sapphire became associated with the image of what an<br />

“angry” Black woman is as this representation acted as a<br />

marker of comparison to be used against Black women<br />

and only grew in different examples throughout time.<br />

The 1970s’show Sanford and Son saw the character of Aunt<br />

Esther inhabiting the “angry” Black woman stereotype as<br />

she belittles the main character, Fred Sanford. Additional<br />

depictions show the character Sheneneh from the 90s’<br />

sitcom Martin, the 2018 Tyler Perry film, Acrimony and<br />

even a meme of former The Real Housewives of Atlanta star,<br />

Nene Leakes.<br />

women become misread. In many ways, who Black women<br />

truly are becomes invisible, all because Americans are<br />

deeply uncomfortable with the idea that Black women<br />

have the right to be outspoken and assertive.<br />

Portrayals and images that have ingrained themselves<br />

into the societal psyche and formulated an idea that is<br />

considered true has affected Black women by having to<br />

walk a proverbial tightrope of how they are perceived,<br />

leading to them negotiating their anger and tempering<br />

their responses.<br />

Black women have been unfairly tasked with carrying the<br />

weight and responsibility of their entire race and must<br />

consider this labor when combating against stereotypes. A<br />

relief is found among fellow Black women in recognizing<br />

these familiar burdens and not reducing one another to<br />

a simplified label.<br />

As explained by Dr. Boylorn, “It is a way other people label<br />

us, not a way we label or understand ourselves. We may<br />

recognize anger or pain, but we understand it is not a<br />

characterization as much as a response to misogynoir and<br />

oppression. We know that our anger is not inherent, it is<br />

prescriptive.”<br />

This stereotype has been one that has and continues to<br />

affect Black women but is also being used as a signifier of<br />

their strength and weaponized to elevate their voices and<br />

concerns to a society that has tried to silence them for<br />

their own benefit.<br />

Black women use their anger through movements such<br />

as Black Lives Matter or pop culture influences such as<br />

Beyoncé’s Lemonade. These examples and others showcase<br />

Black women reclaiming the label of “Angry Black Woman”<br />

to work for and not against them in order to push back<br />

against negative imagery and injustices. Allowing Black<br />

women to showcase their entire emotional spectrum and<br />

individuality.<br />

These portrayals are reinforcements of the “angry” Black<br />

woman trope. They cause Black women to be misperceived.<br />

Any critique becomes seen as hypercritical. And so Black<br />




Kaia Rolle was listening to a school<br />

employee read her a story when two<br />

officers came into the room to arrest<br />

her. “What are those for?” the 6-year-old girl<br />

asked the police officer who pulled out zip ties<br />

that he would soon fasten around her wrists.<br />

The Orlando Sentinel on February 24, 2020<br />

quotes Kaia pleading, “Please, give me a second<br />

chance.” Kaia was escorted to the police car.<br />

The scene was captured on a body camera,<br />

and the footage offered a glimpse into what<br />

many young Black girls in America have long<br />

experienced.<br />

The world ages Black girls up, which leaves<br />

them unable to access the privileges of<br />

childhood, like the benefit of the doubt in<br />

punishment situations. The childhood of<br />

Black girls looks different when compared to<br />

other kids; therefore, it is essential that we<br />

define and understand exactly what a Black<br />

girl’s childhood is in the first place.<br />

Today, we’ll discuss three main themes<br />

that define a Black girl’s childhood:<br />

aesthetic insinuations, adultification, and<br />

discriminatory barriers in education, followed<br />

by an implication for each theme because<br />

even though Kaia’s case seems extreme, her<br />

experience is as common in every Black girls’<br />

childhood as Sunday morning cartoons.<br />

Black girls should not have to worry about<br />

the clothes they wear because it might invite<br />

unwanted attention. Black girls deserve our<br />

protection and it’s time we give it to them,<br />

so let’s examine the theme of aesthetic<br />

insinuations and its implication.<br />

“We live in a country that loves Black culture<br />

on white bodies but not on the bodies of<br />

those who created these looks,” said the<br />

New York Times. For example, Black girls<br />

are reprimanded for clothing and hairstyles<br />

deemed trendy when sported by white girls.<br />

The Baltimore Sun explains, some schools<br />

have gone as far as banning afrocentric<br />

hairstyles like braids, twists and dreadlocks.<br />

This discrimination of natural hairstyles is<br />

detrimental to the self-image of Black girls.<br />

Dancers from Miami <strong>No</strong>rthwestern Senior<br />

High School wore costumes that included a<br />

long-sleeve cutout leotard and black boots.<br />

The dance instructor, Traci Young-Byron,<br />

questioned if the girls were being called<br />

“strippers in training” only because they<br />

were Black, comparing them to young white<br />

dancers dressed in similar attire. Simply put,<br />

the costumes were never the issue.<br />

Clothing must not be the issue creating a<br />

marginalized viewpoint that is causing young<br />

Black girls to be seen as older. So, what is?<br />

A Black mother informs the Washington<br />

Post it started when Chloe was a toddler,<br />

and people commented on her “curves.” She<br />

combated that by putting her in one-piece<br />

jumpers and shorts at the beach. Meanwhile,<br />

her white niece wore two-pieces and no one<br />

talked about her body.<br />

Likewise, the Huff Post reveals that one Black<br />

girl described an encounter with a police<br />

officer who didn’t believe she was 15. He<br />

insisted she was too old not to carry a driver’s<br />

license. The color of her skin was enough<br />

proof for the officer that she was lying about<br />

her age. In fact, in both situations it seemed<br />

the color of the girls’ skin was the deciding<br />

factor.<br />

Any Black mother could’ve told the researchers<br />

that, from the time they are talking and<br />

walking, little Black girls are deemed “fast,”<br />

a word synonymous with promiscuity, leading<br />

us to examine the theme of adultification and<br />

its implication.<br />

First, the history behind the over-sexualization<br />

of Black women can be traced back to the<br />

1800’s when Sarah Baartman’s buttocks<br />

were paraded across Europe to provide<br />

entertainment for Caucasian Europeans.<br />


Even before mainstream media, Black women<br />

were tantalized while Black girls watched and<br />

endured their own adultification.<br />

A Georgetown University report found, Black<br />

girls, particularly ages 5 to 14, are seen as<br />

more sexually mature than white girls. This<br />

prejudiced view leads to Black girls becoming<br />

more victims of sexual violence and disbelief<br />

of their trauma. The Women’s Media Center<br />

reports African American girls comprise over<br />

40% of domestic sex trafficking victims in the<br />

U.S.<br />

While running from danger, Black girls<br />

encounter sexual predators capitalizing on the<br />

lack of collective outrage expressed when they<br />

disappear, causing Black girls to go missing and<br />

stay missing.<br />

Although, it is empowering for Black women<br />

to reclaim their repressed sexuality. When it<br />

is being done through tools that men use to<br />

oppress women’s sexuality, it can be a doubleedged<br />

sword. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette<br />

points out the dangerous over-sexualization<br />

views of Black women, girls and femmes that<br />

exist in the classroom to the boardroom along<br />

with in the African-American community.<br />

While songs by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion<br />

can be empowering, some Black girls might<br />

believe this is the only way to take ownership<br />

over their bodies that are adultified, forcing<br />

Black girls to get rid of their childhood even<br />

more.<br />

Teachers, and even parents, expect Black girls to<br />

exceed age-appropriate levels of responsibility<br />

at home or assume they don’t need to be<br />

comforted after emotionally distressing events,<br />

according to researchers.<br />

Discriminatory barriers in education limit<br />

educational opportunities for Black girls.<br />

Black girls are suspended at a rate five times<br />

that of white girls, increasing their chances of<br />

incarceration. This disparity is not based solely<br />

on differences in behavior, even in preschool we<br />

see these dangerous racist reactions hurting<br />

Black girls.<br />

The New York Times on April 17, 2020 reports, at<br />

the ripe age of three, one Black girl was labeled<br />

intentionally disruptive by her preschool<br />

teacher who tried to film her and prove to her<br />

mother she was a problem — the teacher never<br />

got the footage, but accused her of pretending<br />

to behave at the sight of the camera.<br />

The Independent on October 24, 2019 reveals<br />

a police officer pushed a Black 11-year-old girl<br />

into a wall and violently forced her to the<br />

ground after she accidentally brushed past a<br />

teacher. Video shows the school resource officer<br />

roughly handling the student — and falsely<br />

accusing her of assault. As a result, the Black<br />

girl experienced a minor concussion along<br />

with scrapes and bruises. The school-to-prison<br />

pipeline is simply another challenge Black girls<br />

face since they are more likely to face harsh<br />

discipline in schools and be exposed to police<br />

violence.<br />

Black girls do not have a childhood even when<br />

at school. The National Women’s Law Center’s<br />

report concludes, Black girls are predominantly<br />

penalized under dress code rules echoing the<br />

anecdotal evidence that every part of Black<br />

girlhood — from their hair to their bodies and<br />

clothing — has the potential to be penalized.<br />

The report explains punishments send<br />

dangerous messages to the community: how a<br />

Black girl looks is more important than what<br />

she thinks.<br />

From the clothing she is critiqued for wearing,<br />

the adultification of her body, to the ultimate<br />

denial of an uninhibited education, a Black<br />

girl’s childhood is filled with trauma no adult<br />

should even endure.<br />

Simply put, defining a Black girl’s childhood is<br />

actually defining what she does not have.<br />

To this day, Black girls are suffocated by societal<br />

bias that seeps into their households, schools,<br />

jobs, and other aspects of their life. This cycle<br />

will continue to deprive Black girls of their<br />

childhood unless society is informed about the<br />

injustices they encounter. It’s time we let Black<br />

girls be what they have always been: children.<br />


Photography courtesy of Caroline Simmons, The Crimson White







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