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Speak Up. Speak Out!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — April 6, 2020

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Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

Speak Up, Speak Out: Discrimination Against Muslim Girls

By Ajwa Timber

Forty-two percent of Muslim parents say their kids have been bullied due to their religion, whether through insults or physical assaults, at least once in the past year. There are more than 1.1 million students in NYC schools. An increasing number of those students are Muslims. Others may say that Muslim women and men are not equal and are dominant over Muslim women.  Muslim women students in NYC high schools go through discrimination more than Muslim men because they are easily identified in class, in athletic programs, and people buy in to stereotype against Muslim women.

Muslim students who wear hijabs have been harassed and assaulted in school. A Muslim woman who attends Portland State University was badly abused in the past.

According to KGW Staff “A woman tried to choke a Saudi Arabian exchange student with her hijab and then ripped the head covering of the woman’s head and neck at a Portland MAX station, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said. Jasmine Renee Campbell, 23, then exposed herself and rubbed the hijab against her genitals, court records said”.

Another Muslim teenager had her hijab pulled off and was pelted with eggs’ in Dublin. “The woman and her cousin are also said to have been thrown to the ground and kicked in the alleged attack in Dundrum village, south Dublin, on Sunday afternoon”(Sky News Agust 2019). Muslim women have been prohibited from wearing hijabs. They have been harassed, fired from jobs and denied access to public places.

Noor Alexandria Abukaram via USAToday

Muslim women are not even allowed to wear hijabs while participating in sports without documentation. A Muslim teen athlete, Noor Alexandria Abukaram, was disqualified in Ohio race for wearing Hijab. She wasn’t allowed to run in her hijab without special permission. The officials said cross-country runners were allowed to compete in “religious headwear” only after they received a waiver allowing them to bend the association’s uniform regulations. It was shared she had never seen a rule that barred students from wearing hijab and had not previously run into a problem. (Liam Stack October 2019).

In my personal experience I’ve run track before but I never had to have a teacher sign a waiver for me to participate.

Some people in today’s society buy into stereotypes against Muslim women. For example, some say Islam oppresses women and forces them into a subservient role, but in reality, The Quran explicitly states that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah and forbids female infanticide, instructs Muslims to educate daughters as well as sons, insists that women have the right to refuse a prospective husband, gives women the right to divorce in certain cases. They say Muslim women are quiet and soft. They think all Muslims are from the middle east. Mulsim can be from anywhere and have different backgrounds. I’m sick and tired of some people in today’s society “pegging Muslim women as “submissive” and it’s ridiculous (Heba Kanso Feb 2019).

In conculison, Muslim women students in NYC high schools go through discrimination more than Muslim men because they are easily identified in class, in athletic programs, and people buy in to stereotype against Muslim women. I wonder if Muslim men are treated the same as Muslim women?

~ Ajwa Timber, Teen Writer

Meet Naseyah Williams!

Bringing  her authentic self to the stage allowed Naseyah Williams to walk away with the title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen 2019! Her passion  for expressing herself through the arts and serving others through her talents, is a true representation of a queen.

As a North-Carolina native, Naseyah is a dedicated and active member of Hillside Drama Department. Her major roles have included various high profile Broadway plays + musicals such as The Color Purple, Willy Wonka, The BodyGuard and Matilda. In addition, the young powerhouse serves as a youth leader for various community outreach organizations + has her own platform called “Soaring Through The Arts”  to inspire + to spark a creative movement with youth.

In December of 2018, Naseyah  competed for and won the title of Miss Black North Carolina Talented Teen 2019 under the Miss Black USA Organization. She then went on to compete at Nationals for the Title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen 2019 in August of 2019 + brought home the crown!

She desires for the world to realize that talents are not just attributes, but they are truly our life’s gift.

Let’s get to know Naseyah a little better…

You hold the crown for Miss Black USA Talented Teen! Why was it important for you to participate in the pageant and what impact do you want to make during this time? 

The most important thing as I claimed the title of Miss Black USA Talented Teen, was not that I would get the chance to be represented, but the chance to represent the countless other girls who had never gotten the chance or did not think they have the ability to do such things. I have found that there is a lack in our community. A lack of self esteem and self identity. Because of this, I make it my mission to be the best friend to every girl who feels alone. To be the role model to every girl that feels lost in a world of people who look down on her.

Theatre is your love + the stage is your home! You’ve been featured in The Bodyguard, Willy Wonka, and countless other musicals + plays, how does theatre bring your personality + purpose alive? 

Theatre is my HOME! I remember my first audition, I was invited by a friend and I thought all I would have to do was sing.

I remember I sang and I thought that was all! However, that was followed by as well as this intense improv which I never thought I could do until that moment. With that being said, theatre has caused me to branch out and no longer just hide behind my voice.

I love singing but the ability to add another dynamic to it when combined with the dancing and acting, just made my voice that much more powerful. I have learned so much about myself, my capabilities, through my performances. It has brought me out of my shell and enables me to just be me. I have a very “exciting” personality as most would say, and I have theatre to thank for that!

Art is such a beautiful space of creativity + non-judgment. Your platform “Soaring Through the Arts” brings the attention + importance to the power of arts! How have the arts impacted your life + made it easier to find your voice? 

Thanks to my legendary director, Mr. Wendell Tabb, I have had the opportunity to be on stage and embody these roles. I remember when we were reading the script for The Color Purple, my director told us all that we have to find ourselves somewhere in these characters, in the story, in  order to bring it to life. Ever since then, I have found myself somewhere in every story we have performed.

Many people think a good actor is just someone who can cry on the spot. That is not all there is. You have to be able to connect the story to yourself, which brings a vulnerability. I love the fact that the stage is one of the only places where I feel I can bring this side of me out, free of any judgement.

“Soaring Through The Arts” is my initiative to help all of those who have a desire for the arts, but don’t feel like they have what it takes. It is the opportunity to discover the you that you never thought you knew!

Oftentimes black girls are labeled with numerous stereotypes, what’s a way we can continue to break barriers and create an authentic representation of ourselves? 

Being a black woman in America, is one of the hardest roles to fill. Though faced with discrimination, stereotypes and obstacles, we continue to push forward and break barriers. We can continue to do this by letting our intelligence do the talking. Let our art do the talking. Let our voices be heard because we are the embodiment of what it means to be strong, beautiful, intelligent and talented. We have to push past the stereotypes and continue to pave the way for the generations to come! How do we do this? By letting our #BlackGirlMagic do the talking!

Being young, juggling responsibilities while reaching your dreams can sometimes get to be a bit overwhelming, how do you regroup and motivate yourself when you’re feeling a little defeated? 

 When feeling defeated, I regroup and motivate myself by finding strength in God. For he has made me in his image so I can never be defeated. I have to admit, it is difficult to navigate through teen life especially when you are different; set apart. It is the moments when you embrace that you are not always going to be strong when you gain the most strength. So continue to go after every dream that you’ve ever dreamed because no one can stop you but you.

What’s one mantra or positive quote you live by? 

I live by the motivating words of former Astronaut, Mae Jemison, “Never be limited by the limited imagination of others.”

Time for faves! Artist? Food? Movie? Celeb crush? 

Favorite Artist– My favorite artist whom I will always love is Whitney Houston. I have drawn so much inspiration from her as well as Tori Kelly, who is not as known, but has had a huge influence on my songwriting.

Favorite Food– Fun Fact; I used to be a vegetarian for quite a long time but I stopped very recently and went back to my meat eating ways. All food is my favorite but if I had to choose, I would go with HOT WINGS! I love hot wings and they are part of the reason I converted back to the meat world haha!

Celebrity Crush– Lil Nas X!

Follow more of Naseyah here…

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Length? Overrated.

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Being natural has its ups and downs. The upside is that you no longer have chemicals in your hair and can wear your natural curls. On the flipside, you might have to relearn how to take care of your hair, which could also affect the length of your tresses. But don’t be fooled, your hair is healthier than ever. You just have to learn to work with what you have! As long as you are good to your hair, your hair will be good to you. Here are three reasons not to get caught up!

|It’s Brand New|

If you recently became a naturalista, your hair is still getting used to not having any chemicals in it. Therefore, the texture your hair is now, may not be the texture it is forever. Give it some time and you’ll most likely see your hair change over time.

|Shrinkage|

Shrinkage is real!! You have length, but the buoyancy in your curls is forcing you to remain humble. Although shrinkage makes it look like your hair is shorter than it is, it is also a sign of health. The mere fact that your coils spring back is a sign of healthy hair.

|Health|

No matter what your hair looks like, health is always what’s most important. Bouncy curls are way better than stretched, lifeless ones. Once you’ve found a hair regimen that your hair loves, then you can work on other factors.

Tia Banks, Content Editor

Beauty Diary x Naomi!

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — March 9, 2020

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Scroll through the beauty diary of mua + YouTuber, Naomi Ajala:

What’s your name + city you live in?
I’m Naomi Ajala. I live in Minnesota, US.
 
Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin + having fun! What are 2 beauty trends you’re loving this year?
My favorite beauty trends I’m loving would be brown liner + a shimmering gloss and embracing blonde braids on dark skin.
 
If you had only 15 seconds to grab 3 beauty products, what would they be?
In 15 seconds I would grab three makeup products! It would be definitely a gloss, brown liner and mascara.
 
 
Beauty inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate beauty icon + why?
 
My beauty icon is definitely James Charles he’s 21 and he’s like accomplished a lot. He was the first male ambassador for cover girl when he was 17. I have never seen someone as open and confident as he is and he literally expresses himself through his art work which is makeup. 

Getting ready for class can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s one beauty must-have that lives in your bag?

Usually, when I’m in a rush for school and I’m so tired and even late to apply anything on my face but I still want to look good and comfortable, a gloss and liner lives in my bag definitely. 

What’s your number 1 beauty rule?

My number one beauty rule is to be confident in yourself. The way you walk, dress, talk and act should be fiery. Most importantly, not letting people tell you how you should look.

Find more of Naomi’s looks here:

Instagram

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Stereotypes? Toss’em!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — March 9, 2020

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Society has a funny way of shaping our views of what type of person we should be –especially black girls. We are often put in a box and showcased as having minimal types of personalities and interests when that is quite opposite of the truth. Black girls are fascinated with things across the spectrum. There is space for you to be an extrovert who enjoys the spotlight as well as an introvert who loves comics and anime. Either way, you are black enough and always will be. Ignore the stereotypes and embrace your true self.

Find Your Crew | There is power in numbers. If you find that embracing your true self is hard to do alone, find a group of people that are interested in what you like. Hanging out with them consistently will make you feel more comfortable in your skin. Black girls do a little bit of everything.

Expose Us | Depending on where you live, finding a crew can be difficult. In that case, you should look into creating one. Gather a group of girls and show them what you’re into. For example, if you like to draw, enlighten them on how relaxing it can be for all levels of creativity. Seeing you, a black girl, doing something different will open their horizons to new hobbies and interests.

Seek Inspiration | Social media is a helpful tool. Follow accounts of other black girls who you share interests with. That way when you are seeking inspiration, you can easily find it on your timeline. Look up specific hashtags and put yourself out there too so you can inspire others.

~Tia Banks, Content Editor

Style Diary x Me’Kaila!

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Fashion, Latest | by — February 25, 2020

Scroll through the Style Diary of Charleston based fashion-lover + YouTuber, Me’Kaila!

What’s your name, age + the city you’re from?

Hey, hey! My name is Me’Kaila Daniels-Bryant. I’m 20 years old and I’m from Charleston, South Carolina.

Style is showing who you are without having to speak! Name your top 3 trends you’re feeling this season?

My top 3 trends of this season is denim, prints/bright colors and bold jewelry. Denim is a piece you can add to almost any outfit and there’s nothing like a pair of jeans that are flattering, comfortable and stylish. Cropped tops are in now and they have been over the course of time. I’m convinced they are here to stay. Since my weight loss journey I feel more comfortable in my skin so why not throw on a cropped shirt. It’s sort of empowering in way for me. I’ve also taken more of an interest in chain necklaces this season with bold silver and gold  layering.

If you had 30 seconds to grab your 3 favorite style pieces, what would they be?

If I had 30 seconds to grab my favorite style pieces it would be a nice handbag, my 3 inch black ankle heeled platform boots and my chain necklaces.

Style inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate fashion icon + why?

If I had to say who is my ultimate fashion icon it would be Beyoncé. She is a Virgo like me, in fact we have the same birthday so I feel a connection to her style on a deeper level. She always pays attention to the details when putting a look together. I feel like it’s not just about brands for her it’s how she feels when she puts the whole look together. That’s what matters to me; the details.  Most importantly, the attitude you have with the look is everything. You’re  only going to look as good as you feel. She gives off such confidence with her style. It represents being bold, unique and staying true to yourself. Everyone remembers at least one Beyoncé look that was their favorite.

Getting ready in the morning can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s your go-to look if you’re in a rush?

Getting ready in the morning can be stressful especially if you’re on a time crunch. My go-to look when I’m in a rush is a turtle neck cropped shirt long sleeve or no sleeve, high waisted jeans and my black  ankle heeled platform boots.

What’s your number 1 rule when it comes to style?

Lastly, my number 1 rule when it comes to style is to be true to yourself! It’s not all about brands and trends, it’s about the way you feel when you put a look together. Your attitude completes the look. You’re only going to look as good as you feel.

Follow more of Me’Kaila’s style here:

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Overlooked, Unheard + Over It?!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — February 24, 2020

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It’s important to feel heard and understood. It makes you feel validated. When you don’t get the full attention you are seeking, it can cause you to feel insignificant. This is common especially with a younger generation. Often times, young people are overlooked because it is assumed they have nothing valuable to say, which is indeed not true. There are ways to command a room and make your voice heard.

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Communication Style| Think about how you communicate with people. If your demeanor is more laid back and quiet, then it might be time to push the envelope and be a bit more aggressive. This is important especially when speaking to teachers and counselors because they are most likely discussing your future and you definitely want a say in that.

Answer With Intelligence| When you finally get a chance to voice your opinion, don’t take it for granted. Give a well thought out opinion. It will show a level of maturity and open the door for more opportunities to speak your mind.

Send an Email| Sometimes it’s hard to command attention in person without coming across a certain way. Sending an email is a lot less aggressive and can be worded in a way that sounds mature, but still gets your point across. It’s also a lot less intimidating.

~Tia Banks, Content Creator

Beauty Diary x Aminat!

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — February 10, 2020

Scroll through the Beauty Diary of video creator + MUA, Aminat!

What’s your name + where are you from?

My name is Aminat , I’m from Nigeria but I currently reside in Ukraine.

Beauty is all about being comfortable in your own skin + having fun! What are 2 beauty trends you’re loving this year?

I’m in love with graphic liners because you can do them in so many ways and it allows me express my creative side. However, you can never go wrong with subtle nude makeup.

If you had only 15 seconds to grab beauty products, what would they be?

Firstly lip gloss! Highlighter and eyeliner.

Beauty inspo is everything! Who’s your ultimate beauty icon + why?

I absolutely love Jackie Aina, Ronke Raji and Layefa beauty. Because these are amazing black women that have influenced the beauty industry to create a wider range for us.

Getting ready for class can be fun but stressful if you’re in a time crunch, what’s one beauty must-have that lives in your bag?

Lip gloss always!

What’s your number 1 beauty rule?

My number one beauty rule is to find what works out for you and be comfortable wearing it .

Follow more of Aminat’s amazing looks here:

Instagram

You are the bag. Secure it.

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — February 10, 2020

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Valentine’s day is that one day a year that people either seriously dread or are the definition of the word ‘extra’. BUT  there’s nothing extra about spoiling yourself or atleast treating yourself for the small or big accomplishments you’ve started to knock out at the beginning of 2020, right? Well, no matter if you have a secret admirer or not, your love is all ya need to celebrate. Remember, loving yourself is a must + any others adjust a plus!

Doll up|– Okay, yes so if you’re in college you can sneak in between classes to get a mani or pedi. And even if you’re barely able to focus after 8 hours of walking the halls of your high school, make it a point to unwind after studying. That’s what study breaks are meant for! So pull out your go-to nail polish colors and knock out your home spa!

A Token of Appreciation | If you decide to cancel on Gal-entine’s Day this year, giving your friends a small gift might not be a bad idea. They’ll definitely appreciate the thought behind it. A great + chic gift to round up for your crew are beauty sheet-masks from Leaders Cosmetics. Meshing much-needed relaxation + hydrating skin rejuvenation, your girl gang will barely notice that you’re gone! Who doesn’t love to Detox and Chill, right?

Trade off| Okay, I know that we just ended holiday season but this one isn’t going to cost any coins. Okay, so hearing sweet things about yourself never gets old but we oftentimes take it for granted when we’re always with the people we love. So, trade off compliments! Whether it’s you + bff or you and your bf, each of you should say atleast 2 traits you appreciaite about the other. You would be amazed how people will never forget sweet truths about themselves!

#Freshman5 x Rebecca!

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Feature, Latest | by — February 5, 2020

Take note of Rebecca’s #Freshman5 Must-Knows for your freshman year in college!

Name: Rebecca Gaynor

College: New York University

1.Friendship/ Relationship| Be outspoken! I guess what I am trying to say is don’t be afraid to speak to your peers because just like you they are looking to make friends and study partners in this new environment.

2. Classes/Studying| Don’t procrastinate! Putting things like homework and studying for tests off until the last minute will not benefit you in the long run.

3. Time Management| Don’t register for 8 am classes if you know that you struggle with waking up early! You’ll end up missing crucial information in class if you’re always late or absent. Set an alarm they’re extremely helpful.

4. Self-care| As fast paced as this new environment may be don’t forget to take some time for yourself and relax. It’s also important to express how you feel whether it’s through a journal entry, song, or poem. Also make sure you are taking care of your body. Try to eat 3 well balanced meals per day.  I definitely know how easy it can be to skip a meal or 2.

5. Money budgeting| If you live on a campus please make sure you are using all of those meal swipes! At the end of the year you’re not going to get back money for those unused swipes. Also, get a job for personal expenses and purchase based on necessity. All in all be frugal!

Follow more of Rebecca’s collegiate journey…

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