“It’s the AAVE for me,” “Chile, anyways,” “We been knew,” “Finna,” “Periodt, “No cap,” Well, aside from being ingrained in “Internet culture” and often incorrectly referred to as “Gen Z slang,” “internet lingo” or “stan language,” they’re all rooted in AAVE – African American Ventricular English. AAVE is an established, recognized system of linguistics and a dialect of English natively spoken by Black communities, notably in the United States and Canada.
Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and The Little Mermaid. These are all classic stories that were brought to life by the Walt Disney Studios. For almost a century, they have dazzled audiences old and young with these tales of fantasy. But what do they all have in common? Their stories are centered on thin white beauties. This is not to claim there is an issue with that, but when you look at the expanseous vault of Disney movies, you can easily deduce that characters of color are painfully absent.
The cultural influences of the African American community have not only shaped American culture, but rather the entire world; with influences ranging from fashion, the arts, to even agriculture, African Americans rarely receive recognition for their contributions that are all stored in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In what is known to be a ‘universal language’ that unites individuals of all demographics, music has historically been a symbol of hope and integrity for African Americans. From what began as a way to bond with fellow slaves while easing the drudgery of their lives, music has flourished into a pivotal component of America’s overall cultural heritage. Their dance tunes, religious music, and hip hop influences makes it nearly impossible to envision America without African American influence.
Black History Month started at a Chicago festival celebrating the 50th anniversary of the emancipation of enslaved people. Carter Woodson observed this festival, and opened up a Black history booth during the 3 week duration of the celebration. Soon after the festival ended, he decided to form the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (Now changed to Association for the Study of African American Life and History).
In a fiery spoken-word piece performed by Joy Buolamwini, she asks artificial intelligence a simple question: “Often forgetting to deal with// Gender, race, and class, again I ask Ain’t I a Woman?” This sentiment rings true as visuals play of multiple high profile black women, such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Serena Williams, being misidentified by various facial recognition software. The AI jumps to the conclusion that they are all men. This situation is evidence of underlying racial bias, and it’s not an isolated incident; racial bias is persistent in AI.
WRITTEN BY: Lucy Damachi
Social movements are increasingly realizing the importance of intersectionality – the understanding that every person’s different identities (their race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.) work together to define their unique experience in society. Until the importance of intersectionality was acknowledged, activists believed that a win for a marginalized group meant a win for everyone in that group, regardless of their other identities that might work against them gaining equal benefits. However, despite increasingly intersectional discourse, even current social movements fail to include all identities successfully.
WRITTEN BY: Elisabeth Mahilini Hoole
I always hated how long it took to braid my hair, the pain I would feel as my mother parted my hair into two, the heat on my hair every week, and the fatigue of spending hours simply washing my hair. But above all, the lack of representation of my hair across the media and entertainment industry served as a strong motive for me to view straight hair as desirable, and my hair as ugly. As people in my school had looser curls/straight hair while my hair would easily frizz, the frustration I built grew into hatred on my natural hair.
Many of you might have heard of Hasan Minhaj, an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. You might know him for his Netflix comedy show, Patriot Act, or you might know him as a really funny guy. Hasan Minhaj, however, is so much more than just his various titles and occupations. He has had a huge impact on the South Asian community, serving as some much needed mainstream representation. His stories and jokes are ones every South Asian can relate to, and he integrates humor with influential topics in a flawless way. Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2019, and he undoubtedly deserved this prestigious title. Recently, Netflix has decided to pull the plug on his show Patriot Act. As a young South Asian woman growing up with immigrant parents in the United States, I am incredibly disheartened to see such a relatable, hilarious show leave the platform.
Media and pop culture both play an immense role in shaping how people see the world. On average, teenagers consume nine hours a day of media – and adults 15.5 hours (scholars.org), and biased media portrayals of racial groups and ethnicities cannot be dismissed as mere “entertainment,” especially not if their impact on the youth is taken seriously.
Researchers from Indiana University have found that prolonged television exposure predicts a decrease in self-esteem for girls and black boys, yet an immediate increase in the self-esteem of white boys. These differences correlate with the racial and gender practices in Hollywood, which predominantly casts white men as lionhearted, womanizing heroes, which erases or subordinates other groups as villains, tedious sidekicks, or sexual objects.
The Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) was founded on July 13th, 2013. When BLM was founded, 2013 had already seen the murder of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin’s murder caused Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometiwas to found BLM. They wrestled with the question, how is it possible that a white police officer can shoot and kill a young Black boy in broad daylight and not be charged? Not surprisingly, they weren’t the only ones asking themselves this question. BLM’s mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives. Many know BLM as a hashtag that is frequently trending on twitter, but it is much more. BLM is a decentralized group of Black folks and their allies across the world working to create a world that works equitably for everyone.
WRITTEN BY: Casey Grace