Author Archive

“Act African”…Umm What?!

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — August 18, 2020

My Life As An African in America 

By Ifeoma Afugbuom

I have had my share of stereotypes that people have built inside their heads. The most I’ve seen are unreasonable but I remembered that people are not taught of how large and culturally diverse Africa is even today. 

A continent that is made up of 54 countries and over 3,000 languages in the continent alone. The clothes we wear, the way we walk & talk, our traditions, and our accents are what makes us different in all aspects.

Here are some of the stereotypes and questions that I’ve come across:

Why weren’t you born in Africa? 

My parents were immigrants and my mom had the opportunity to come here as a nurse. My dad came later and worked as a businessman. Everyday they work to provide a better life for my brother and I. I’m the result of their hard  work in this country.

Why don’t you have an accent?

I was born here just like everyone else. I have an American accent and that doesn’t make me less of an African or Nigerian to be exact.

Do you speak African? Say something?

Africa is a continent and not a language. My family speaks Igbo. Igbo is a language and one of the large tribes in Nigeria. There are many languages spoken, however, there are 3 main languages: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba.

I listen to only African music.

I just started listening to Nigerian* music again. Since there are new artists I love I enjoy it more. I mainly listen to American musicians like Nicki Minaj, Billie Eilish, Saweetie, Summer Walker, Pop Smoke and others.

I don’t prefer one genre over the other. I’m open-minded so I can listen to any type of music that sounds good and it doesn’t matter the language. Artists like Shenseea, Popcaan, Paloma Mami, BTS, Mamamoo, G-Idle and others. 

Why aren’t you Muslim?

Just because I’m African does not mean I’m necessarily bound to one religion. I am Catholic. According to Wikipedia and Research Gate, the muslim population in Africa 

is around 41-52%. Christianity makes a rough 49% on average. There  are also other religions so it’s bold to assume.

You don’t wear your traditional clothing.

I have a collection of sweatshirts that I love dearly. I wear casual clothes mostly and keep my dresses for special occasions or church. I only wear my traditional clothing  to church or parties that require that dress code. I’m not obligated to wear a turban and long fitted dress everywhere.

You don’t look African.

Just like Americans, there is no one appearance designed for a race. We all look and talk differently. There is no such thing as looking African. That is just a mindset people created to distinguish and separate others.

(Rema, 20)

As a Nigerian I love to embrace my culture. The clothes we wear are so dearly important to me. My language is the way I communicate to people back home. To see others being ignorant; creating a lists of questions that feeds off the stereotypes of my people are not settling to hear. Especially when I hear it more than twice. 

The music genre Nigerians called AfroBeat allowed us to grow and climb the music industry. Artists like WizKid, Davido, Mr.Eazi, and Burna Boy paved the way for us to appear on foreign award shows. Even showing us it is possible to win multiple Grammys. New artists like Rema, even at a young age, are slowly climbing the ladder with their music.

The fashion industry in Nigeria is booming with multiple tailors and different styles. So everyone can enjoy the luxury of fine clothes. I hope everyone can see this and understand our culture. To also know to not feed into the stereotypes people make about them or others.

~ Ifeoma Afugbuom

#AskAnActivist: Sophie Ming

Owning your voice + dismantling systems that were created for oppression is not only a right but a responsibility we each possess! From tackling a variety of thought-provoking cultural topics on her YouTube channel to leading protests in the streets of NYC for justice, Sophie Ming is unleashing her voice both in the digital world + her community.

As a college student, Sophie has launched her platform NYC Youth Collective with clear + strong messaging to defund the police. Not allowing Black Lives Matter to be a moment or a trend but a movement to create long-lasting change.

An authentic voice leading a generation of massive progress for the future.

Let’s get to know Sophie Ming a little better…

From organizing impactful protests to pushing powerful initiatives for change within the black community, what made you want to use your voice + platform to launch the NYC Youth Collective? 

The NYC Youth Collective for me was my passion for social justice reform and my love for the youth coming together to form one organization. Also, it’s so extremely important for us to be having conversations about race with young people, right now. The reason why we have so many white, uneducated, and racist adults in power is because those adults never learn about intersectionality, racial inequality, and white privilege. This is something that’s very new, but something I want to give momentum to. And I encourage other leaders and organizers to do the same.

Defunding the police can make a radical change within our communities; what do you want people to understand about reallocating the police department’s funds? 

Something that I always say is “defunding the police means saving black lives.” It’s so common for people to hear “defund the police” and then get scared and skeptical. It’s okay to not know exactly what society will look like without police, but we already know what it looks like with police. It’s a literal civil war against black Americans and our entire race is being killed nation wide. That is what communities with the police currently look like, that can’t be the finish line.

How key is it to know your city council member that represents your neighborhood + exercising your voice through your vote?

I will always stand behind voting and staying in contact with your reps. Politics is scary if you’re black. The entire system is set up without considering our identities. It’s easy to shy away from contacting your reps and getting involved but I cannot stress how important it is. There will always be such immense power in numbers. That being said, we can demand and vote for change all we want and if it isn’t delivered, that’s when we use our power to shut it down.

There’s been a major spark of reminding the Black Lives Matter movement that  ALL black lives matter including black girls/women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and people with disabilities. How can individuals keep shedding light to the importance of unity + support within the black community?

We can only keep the movement united if we keep our peers and ourselves in check. This means seeing past your own experience as a black individual to other black individuals who may be even more marginalized. This means although I have my own marginalized experience being  a black woman, I have to be able to check my privileged being cisgender, or able bodied. It’s hard for people to look past their own experience and check their own privilege but it’s absolutely necessary to prevent certain identities in the black community from getting overlooked.

What’s an avenue students can stay involved if they are unable to attend local protests?

There are so many ways to be involved in change without going to protests. Use your social media to share and uplift black voices during this time, do your research on how you can personally be an ally, have productive conversations with friends and family about race (this is also a great time to check friends and family who may be ignorant on the matter).

We love a tweet you previously shared which said,  “dear black people, please do not feel pressured to be an activist right now. you’re allowed to be angry, upset, drained, etc. you’re allowed to delete social media and take a break from reality. the burden is not on you fix a system designed to break you.” Why is it important to regroup + remind ourselves about black joy + not just only the pain?

I think it’s important for black people to understand that it is not our responsibility to dismantle white supremacy. We quite literally need white people to check and change their own racist ideals and mindsets. So much of the burden is placed on black folk to organize and educate, and make the process of social reform easier and more digestible for white people. I want to remind black people (especially black women) to give themselves rest. It’s already triggering enough seeing our own getting killed on the timeline every other day, as we progress through a modern day civil war. It is okay to not be on all of the time.

If you had to give a message to black girls everywhere about loving themselves, what would it be?

The easiest way to navigate your confidence as a black girl is to not allow your standard of beauty to be white. Erase whatever Eurocentric features are considered beautiful, and allow your own to be.

Follow more of Sophie’s journey here!

YouTube

Instagram

NYC Youth Collective

Dreams vs. Fame?

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — July 14, 2020

Going for your goals is the best thing you can do for yourself. You should never hold back or short yourself when it comes to achieving what you want. If being a singer, actress, or even a Youtuber is what you desire, pursue it. But before you move forward towards achieving your dreams, you need to ask yourself if you are pursuing your passions or are you pursuing fame. There’s a huge difference and fame isn’t always as glamorous as it seems so make sure your priorities in order.

via GIPHY

|Not What You Think|

As we mentioned above, fame isn’t as glamorous as one might think. It comes with a lot of responsibilities, pressure, and even loneliness. Not to say there aren’t any cool perks of being famous, but a lot of time the bad outweighs the good. It’s not for everyone and there are ways to be successful with your passion without the fame.

|Do Anything For Clout|

Offset said it best when he rapped the lyrics “They do anything for clout.” People want to be famous so bad that they are willing to do things that make them uncomfortable. It’s a toxic way of thinking and if that mentality is followed, you will eventually divert from your passion and put energy into things you don’t care about. 

|Happiness|

Feeding your passion is always going to make you happy, especially when you become successful. Fame is not guaranteed happiness. You’ll find that your passions will take you father than fame ever will so stay focused!

via GIPHY

~Tia Banks, Content editor

Exhausted? Don’t Feel Guilty

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Daily Blog, Latest | by — June 20, 2020

(Giphy.com)

Exhausted. Yep,  if we had to sum up how we feel for the first half of 2020 it would be exhausted. From shifting 2nd semester at home due to the quarantine to protesting against racial injustice all while dealing with pressure from our parents, friend drama, keeping up our GPA, internships + the list goes on! It’s time to squeeze in some much-needed self-care without feeling guilty about it!

Pressure: OFF ~ The pressure to keep it all together can sometimes feel unbearable + overwhelming, especially during these times. And oftentimes we put pressure on ourselves to keep it together. REMINDER: TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF. Feel what you feel. If you feel like crying then cry. If you’re  exhausted take a break. If you’re angry, express it. You have a wide-range of emotions + it’s okay to share them.

CHILL.  ~ With much happening in the world you can feel guilty to simply slow down. Having moments of fun + having joy doesn’t mean you do not about current  issues, it simply means you’re refueling yourself! So watch that YouTube series, make TikToks, laugh at memes, have that group chat with your friends, make a new dance. Do something that will put a smile on your face.

Where’s the CONFETTI? ~Standing in our girl genius is a revolution. Graduating + finishing this semester is a movement. Loving ourselves boldly and unconditionally is a rebellion! So celebrate yourself!

Soooo take a break you deserve it!

“Fancy” Finances

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Finance, Latest | by — July 11, 2011

So after Drake dropped “Fancy” we all feel the need to live up to those lyrics right? From clothes to shoes to what bag we carry on our right arm….Hmm try again girls. Yes, living a fabulous lifestyle is simply awesome BUT let’s not forget life is not a music video nor are our finances.

Let’s face it, being fabulous on a part time retail gig may be a bit difficult (trust me, I’ve been there!). Especially working at a hot clothing boutique, you may not be able to pay mortgage with your checks BUT the 50 percent employee discount gives your heart full content! The only problem is that those bi-weekly checks just seem to miraculous disappear and somehow every new clothing arrival has found its way to the front of your closet. With all these magic tricks of turning your check into clothes you manage to do one last trick. In all this mix your savings has not moved an inch from when your mother put the 200 dollars to start as a spring board to get your own personal account rolling. Poof!

Ok, so I get it ….you’re thinking “Save for What?” No rent, no gas bill, no car note, no electric bill and you didn’t even know there was a bill for water (it’s not like Fiji is running from the faucet.) The only bill you may be aware of care about is your cell phone bill. So your current weekly budget consists of at least 3 new outfit , hmmm gas money for your car( but your mom’s bp card is always there, so scratch that) & your cell phone. Other than that, you’re good to go. Ok, let me let you guys in on a secret these budget plan habits will have you on a corner looking very fly with nowhere to lay your head at night if you keep this up though your older age.

Three quick tips to let your savings grow and your closet go on a diet….

Just Say “NO”- Ok, yes I know media deeming the word “Shopaholic” as if it’s a  cute new career choice. Well, they lied. In reality having every designer piece of clothing and no savings to fall back on is not the hot look of the season! Have a priority list every time you receive your check so you’re not buying up the world. Maybe one week you snag those jeans you wanted and say “No” to the rest of the outfit. Save at least 20-30% if your check. It may not seem a lot now but believe me it will add up.

Non-Negotiables– Not only in dating you should have your non-negotiables but in finances too! Now, when you first receive your check you should have a list with the breakdowns of departments you need to pay. For example it can be easy Your list can be…1. Tithes 2. Savings. 3. Phone Bill. Now you know that every month that these are your non-negotiables. No matter what, these items need to be paid. From here you can base your budget of what you need.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT “Moi”–   Savings are important but don’t forget about yourself either. You don’t necessarily have to buy everything but you  can turn your savings into a rewards program for yourself. Once you reach your savings goal you set  tell yourself you are going to treat yourself to those strappy, animal print stilletos you’ve been spying. This causes you to motivate yourself to stay on track.

“Remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”
Deuteronomy 8:18

Miracles & Blessing,

 

Featured Girl of the Week

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Feature, Latest | by — July 11, 2011

 

Name:JASMYNE SAMONE SMITH

Age:14

City: LEBANON. KY

Grade: 9TH

What’s your DREAM job and why?

MY DREAM JOB IS TO BE A PHARMACIST BECAUSE THEY MAKE GOOD MONEY AND THAT’S SOMETHING I ALWAYS WANTED TO DO!

Which hobbies do you love to enjoy?

MY HOBBIES ARE PLAYING THE GUITAR,  HANGING OUT WITH MY FRIENDS AND  STAYING ON FACEBOOK! HA!

Who is your biggest CELEB  crush?

MY CELEB CRUSH IS TREY SONGZ

Fave song to JAM out to right now?

MY FAVE SONG TO JAM TO IS MOTIVATION BY KELLY ROWLAND

If you could change 1 thing about the world what would it be?

I WOULD LOVE TO CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE ACT.

What does empowerment mean to you?

TO ME IT MEANS THE WAY YOU CAN VOTE  AND  GIVE PEOPLE THE CHOICE TO DO WHATEVER THEY WOULD LIKE TO DO!

Turn Meditation into “Me” Time

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Health/Beauty, Latest | by — July 11, 2011

You’re young, free and simply fearless! Anything dealing with chants, awkward positions and forcing you to be quiet for more than 5 minutes, you’re just not interested in. Well, I’m here to give you a nudge to open up your mind just a tad. Meditation is not necessarily as  intense as you might  think. Hey, I even have a problem for sitting still for more than 2 minutes at a time. But turn what you think  meditation is into a little, quality “me time.”

Between grueling  homework assignments, the parentals screaming down your throat, and you trying to catch eyes with “Mr. Football” in your second period class, your mind is constantly racing. It is a special treat to yourself to allow your brain to chill out a couple of minutes out of the day. Pausing your mind either before you start your day or even after you had a day where you felt your life was falling apart bit by bit , giving yourself time to breathe.

 

SOMEONE, PRESS THE MUTE BUTTON!– Yes! Grab the remote and hit the mute button! But wait it’s not just the electronics that receive the shut off button, so do you! Chatting with your girls, guidance counselor and boyfriends throughout the day your mouth can use a bit of a break. Instead of exercising your thoughts through talking, flip it and open your ear canals and focus on what your environment is saying.

SHAKE OFF THE STRESS– You are constantly moving all day and that is not including basketball practice after school! But even though you’re constantly in motion, you still don’t take time out to stretch all  those muscles throughout the day and shake off all of that pinned up stress.

CLEAR THE CLUTTER!– Time to clean! Not what you think, I know cleaning your room is the last thing you want to hear (which you should) but I’m talking about your thoughts. Having a packed schedule starting from 6:30 am to around 10pm at night, you rarely have time to think about the most important person…YOU! Take 10-15 minutes to focus your mind on what you like or goals you want to achieve. If it’s making Varsity Volleyball to winning a local poetry competition envision your success!

See, so I told you meditation is not the scary, right??

You’re FLY!