Read Jada Mosely's short story titled "From Zoey to Kenzie"

I never understood what it was like to be black even though my father was indeed black. My mother though, was white. Blonde hair, blue eyes, Eurocentric features, small frame... just an overall aesthetically beautiful woman. Me on the other hand, I had grown to have wide hips, light brown skin, a wide nose, and thick long hair. I knew that I was different from my mother, but I was also different from my dad... well, not as different. I mean I didn't have dark brown skin like he did but my nose was wider like his and my eyes were brown like his. My hair was not coarse like his though. At the age of 14 I asked my parents "what am I?" And they just said, "you're our beautiful baby girl, we love you Zoey". 
I never understood what it was like to be black until my white friends had these awkward moments and odd questions they asked me. "So like, what are you?" They would say and to tell you the truth at that moment I wasn't sure. I never had these conversations with my family so I just shrugged my shoulders and pretended like I was unbothered. It wasn't even the question that bothered me; it was the fact that I didn't have the answer. Then there were the questions about my hair. "Why is it so uh... thick?" They were so odd and it was obvious that they didn't want to say nappy because they didn't want to offend me. At one point they just started saying "you're not ghetto like the other ones, it's like you're really white". For some reason I started to feel comfortable... more adjusted like I finally fit in. I didn't care about skin color; in fact I didn't even see it.
I never understood what it was like to be black even after our new neighbors moved in next door. I remember the first time I met Kenzie. I was outside talking to my best friends at the time, Sarah and Chris and Kenzie was coming back from walking her dog. We all stared at Kenzie, but how could you not? She had beautiful dark skin, brown eyes, small frame, but still some curves, and a thick Afro like I've never seen before. I honestly thought she was beautiful, but I don't think my friends were looking at her for the same reason. They started pointing at her hair and then they looked at me. They looked at me and they didn't say anything. 
"I've never seen hair like that," Chris finally said.
"Yeah me neither," I replied.
Sarah started laughing, but I wasn't sure why. I guess I didn't get the joke.
"Is it a wig? Like what is that?" Sarah continued to laugh.
Chris laughed along with Sarah. I locked eyes with Kenzie as she watched them laugh at her and I let them. Kenzie looked away and walked inside her house. Chris and Sarah laughed harder and I still couldn't say anything, so I just went inside. I didn't even say goodbye. Chris and Sarah finally stopped joking around to notice that I had left them sitting on my front porch.
I never understood what it was like to be black, even on the first day of high school when the student body was almost 100 percent white. I walked into my homeroom and sat with Sarah; Chris had a different homeroom than us. Kenzie walked in soon after I did. She wore a hoodie that day, even though it was hot outside. The large hood was covering her head and half of her face… she was nervous. I waved to her to come sit by us, but she looked away and sat in the back of the class. Sarah asked me what was wrong with her. I thought, maybe she felt uncomfortable after yesterday when they laughed at her, but I didn’t say anything to Sarah; I just shrugged. Our homeroom teacher walked in and told everyone to remove our hats… and hoods. Kenzie slowly removed her hood and kept her head down.
After class I waited for Kenzie to walk out and I told Sarah that I would catch up with her later; she had a different class anyway. I called after Kenzie as she walked past me, but she didn’t stop, she kept walking.
“Kenzie! Wait up,” I rushed after her.
She finally stopped, “What?!”
“I was just going to ask if what class you had next… I’m Zoey.”
“I know who you are… listen I’m not really interested in making friends.”
“We don’t have to be… I just want to see if we had next class together.” I showed Kenzie my schedule and she was hesitant at first, but she showed me hers as well. Ironically, Kenzie and I had all of the same classes.
I never understood what it was like to be black, even when Sarah and Chris stopped talking to me when Kenzie and I became close. I started to feel like I was different, not because Kenzie was a dark skin black girl, but because she was an outcast. Being completely oblivious to racial issues, I didn’t take it personally; things were different for Kenzie.
I never understood what it was like to be black, but Kenzie did. Our sophomore year of high school came around and Kenzie was shameless in wearing her large Afro and showing off her beautiful skin, until that day.
Kenzie and I walked into the girls bathroom to Sarah and her new friends staring in the mirror. I said hi to Sarah, but she just turned around and laughed. She looked at Kenzie and said, “You know, I have always liked your hair”. One of Sarah’s friends looked at Kenzie through the mirror then laughed, and I couldn’t believe that I still could not say anything. Kenzie walked into one of the open stalls and she just cried and cried as they laughed at her. I knocked on the stall a few times until she opened the stall and pulled me in. She was hurt I could tell, but it was more than the comments about her hair.
“I can’t believe Zoey is friends with that nigger, I guess she is a nigger too now.” Kenzie read as she sobbed. She pointed to the inside of the stall. “Her skin is so weird, I have never seen an actual human so dark and what is up with that hair?” I cringed. Kenzie fell to the floor and I tried to help, I did. She told me to go away and that she didn’t want to speak to me anymore.
Kenzie walked into class the next day with her hood on her head, the same way she wore it our first day of freshman year. What surprised me was the fact that she sat by me in class as if nothing happened; then removed her hood. I stared at her confused, but she just looked at me and smiled. Kenzie completely removed her hoodie and had on a long sleeve shirt underneath and it was extremely hot that day. Her sleeve came up slightly, revealing cuts on her wrist; I immediately turned my head away, facing the front of the room. Kenzie pulled down her sleeve, I could feel her staring at me; possibly waiting for me to say something about her arm, but as usual I didn’t say anything.
Kenzie invited me to her house after school that day, but I wasn’t sure why she would even want me to be around her. She still acted like yesterday was a figment of her imagination, like she was perfectly fine, but I knew that she wasn’t. We were sitting on her bed when I asked her if she was ok, and she said she was fine.
“I know you’re upset with me Kenzie, and I saw the cuts on your arms.”
“You wouldn’t even understand Zoey, my parents wouldn’t even take this seriously. They would kill me for harming myself. Please don’t tell anyone”.
I just shook my head, and of course I didn’t say anything else.
Kenzie and I decided to go for a walk in our neighborhood; it was a beautiful evening. Neighbors were walking their dogs and there were people just coming home from work. We came to an intersection right just before the hill in our neighborhood; there weren’t any cars coming for a while, so Kenzie said. Kenzie walked across the street slowly; she spun around and lifted her head to the sky.
I walked past her smiling, “Come on Kenzie”.
“I think right here is just fine,” She smiled at me. “I hope to see you again someday”.
“Kenzie what are you doing? Get out of the street!”
“It’s time for you to suffer now”.
“Kenzie!”
The truck came fast and just before it could slow down, it hit Kenzie and I saw it. I saw my best friend die and I then felt the pain and suffering that she once felt.  I never understood what it was like to be black, but Kenzie did. Constantly dealing with racism from the kids at school caused her to self-harm and I never spoke up until it was too late.

 

How It Feels To Be A Black Girl: Beyond The Hashtag

First off, I'd like to start this post by saying what How It Feels To Be A Black Girl was created for. This web series was created for black girls/women to have a save space to share their thoughts on multiple topics in relation to being a black girl. When I first started this series, I used the hashtag to get the word out. I also hosted a few tweet chats on Twitter and also encouraged black girls to post their selfies on the tag. Unfortunately, this brushed over the fact that #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl was more than just a hashtag. Don't get me wrong, I was still happy to see so many black girls using the tag and relating to each other. However, the amount of work that is put into this movement is not just a catchy hashtag (no offense to others). Hashtags are very effective when it comes to uplifting black people, but having something beyond that is difficult do deal with.

My best friend/co-host, Nia, assisted me last season by coming up with the subtitle, "Black Girls Reloaded", as well as the topics for the whole season, but even then, I felt so much pressure. I had to constantly remind a good deal of my cast to send in their videos on time. I had to edit videos last minute because I would not get most of the videos on time. Editing softwares like iMovie and adobe Premiere take a while to save and upload to YouTube. Then it was the money I spent to get the right logo, and despite selling products online, I still do not get half of those profits. I just wanted to see people supporting by wearing the logo. Another issue is promotion. I had to get people to promote the series and I'm using the tag to do so, which was harmful. Since the hashtag was trending, the actual episodes got lost in all the tweets that were composed. Despite my Twitter name standing for "How It Feels To Be A Black Girl", people still did not pay attention.

What I am currently doing is redefining the web series and how it is done. Instead of doing individual videos, the show is now panel-style. This is where more work came in for me and my cast members. I had to come up with topics and with the help of my cast we narrowed 11 topics down to our favorite 5. I also had to schedule studio time, create a schedule, and ensure that all of my cast members made it there without any issues. I am also a college student and unfortunately unable to compensate my cast for their travels (most came via metro).

This is something dear to my heart and that is why I work so hard for this movement. I just hope with this information people will understand and further look into the movement beyond the hashtag.

You Don't Know the Struggle by Unapologetically Pam

For every person who attempts to replace "black lives matter" with "all lives matter" or take the "afro" out of my "American"
You don't know shit about the struggle...

You don't know what it is
To see a reflection of yourself constantly portrayed as the enemy,
But for us, this is centuries in the making.

This is for the Sarah Baartman's of the diaspora,
The Nat Turner's, fighting to break free.

Cause you don't know shit about the struggle...
The body of the black woman seen as too sexual, 
While the body of the black man hangs from trees, 
and lays dead in the streets at the hands of the police.

You don't know shit about the struggle...
Cause although we were brought here in chains, 
You say we're the ones to blame for the state of oppression in this western game.

And when we speak out against the system,
We're too black, 
too symbolic of everything you don't want to think about.

You'd rather sweep hundreds of years of brutality under the rug.

But you don't know shit about the struggle...
When you hate us but everything about our culture is appropriated for your mainstream consumption,
Hashtagging "the struggle is real" or "I Slay" but
YOUR SLANG DOESN'T BELONG TO YOU,
It's mine.

Yeah, you don't know shit about what it means when we proclaim our sensuality and sexuality as a black woman in a white man's media world, 
only to be hypersexulized, type-casted, and slut-shamed for the very same brown body that sends you running to tanning salons and plastic surgeons

Yet, you don't know shit about the struggle.
When black dances, black words, black style, black music, black bodies
Are the new norm, 
as long as they're whitewashed on television shows.

And you attempt to silence the outcry from black entertainers
in your need to feel justified by bringing up the Stacey Dash's of the world, who would rather forget the struggle
OR your "black friend" who agrees with you.

Shut the fuck up with your nonsense, your ignorance.

Cause the truth is, you don't know shit about the struggle.
The struggle for representation, 
For consolation,
For reparation.

And does your black friend agree with being slaughtered in the streets?
Being targeted, raped by those sworn to "protect and serve"
Whispering, "I can't breathe..." while your murderer goes free?

And how dare you tell me to calm down,
To get over it,
As if my blackness can be assimilated into your canvas with no open spaces for my carefree curls and curves.

See you don't know shit about the struggle.
Because you live within a system that benefits your blatant ignorance,
That allows you to pin the blame on the oppressed,
Who struggle to lift themselves up from the weight of 400+ years worth of rusted, enforced chains.

But you don't know shit about the struggle. 
You don't know why we need them...the voices of the voiceless. 
The Cam Newton's.
The Beyonce's.
The Kendrick Lamar's.
The Denzel Washington's.
The Michelle Obama's.
The Lupita N'yongo's.
The Taraji P. Henson's.
Because our little black boys and girls need to see something, someone who is a reflection of their skin in your gladiator arenas.
The beautiful, the tragic, 
The DABB and the defeat,
The fall and the rise.
The setback and the clapback.

But you don't get that, do you? 
Cause you don't know shit...

Check out Unapologetically Pam's site here: http://unapologeticallypam.blogspot.com/

X by Essence Harley

 

His name was X but that wasn’t his first

He had a birth name but it was decided for him.

He was a muliti-faucted man

Started on the black market ended in the black caucus

One day he got caught up which ironically

Was the catalyst for his growth, a growth that would wake up the globe.

He changed his name as he changed the game

A real revolutionary.

Not afraid to get in your face and expel the flaws in the system

Started as a follower, transformed into a leader

Until the same people that he was fighting for turned the fight inward

To help the antagonist maintain what he always wanted:

Power.

The four letter word that is used to often yet it’s so misunderstood

Malcolm had the real power

Black Power: culturally rich, dynamic, tenacious, resilient and beautiful.

The most supreme on Earth.

 

 

Black Representation By. Samantha C.

 

Growing up as a black girl, I watched shows mostly featuring white actors and actresses. Magazines I looked at featured mostly white models. And most pop-stars were white as well. There was some black representation in the media as I was growing up, but not much. It's weird to imagine what it was like for black generations before me growing up with little to no one who represented their race in the 'spotlight'. The definition of representation is "the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being represented." Representation is so important to me. For so long beauty standards in the media and else where have been mostly Eurocentric. Beauty has been represented by features mostly present on white individuals. When I was younger if movies had black people in them they were usually 1) the angry black women 2)slaves and/or servants or 3)the "token" black friend with no real character development (every movie has one). It's almost as if people forget how truly versatile black women and men are. How many different shades we come in and how many different backgrounds we come from. We are all so different and that's why representation matters the most. Especially for young black kids with dreams of becoming actors, singers and even businessmen and women only to have their dreams crushed by finding out that 75% of Hollywood roles go to white actors and that black men make (about)80¢ to every white mans dollar. And it doesn't stop there, white women make 78¢ to every white mans dollar while a black women only makes 64¢ to the white mans dollar. Seeing statistics like these as a black child can be extremely discouraging, but seeing people like you, who face the same discriminations that you face doing big things like starring in movies and owning their own businesses can be magical. It teaches them that they too can be successful despite racial prejudices. That's why my favorite moments in black history have been the moments where black people have represented us in a positive and uplifting way. In honor of Black History Month, here are my top 10 favorite moments of black representation (in the last few years.) 1) Of course at number one is Barack Obama, the first African American president in American history. This was monumental in the black community, and will truly go down in history. 2) John Boyega, the first black storm trooper in Star Wars history. ICONIC! 3) Black Marty in Grease Live played by Keke Palmer, which was awesome because there where no POC in the original Grease. 4) All black cast and crew of The Wizard Of Oz Live. An amazing production filled with amazingly talented black singers, actors and dancers. 5) The movie Home, which was the first animated movie to feature a black character as the lead. 6) Rihanna being the first black women to be the face of a Dior campaign. 7) Maria Borges, the first Victoria Secret model to debut natural hair on the runway. 8) Blackish, a show about a modern day black family that lives in the suburbs. It's one of my favorites because it's not the 'typical' black family. It shatters stereotypes while also being relatable, funny and educational. 9) Zendaya in K.C. Undercover, one of Disney's most recent shows featuring a black lead. 10) Amandla Stenberg educating everyone on cultural appropriation, not afraid of being labeled the 'angry black women' and giving young black girls the courage and platform to speak up about racial issues as well. These are just a few of my favorites among many, many others. And I hope representation of the black community in the media continues to flourish and give us the opportunities we deserve.  

 

The Great Debate: PWI vs HBCU by Rachel Nelson

I moved in with my dad for my senior year of high school in Pittsburgh, PA. I thought I wanted to go to Temple so I wanted to get in state tuition. I really hated living there after the first few weeks of school. It was the first time I’d really experienced racism and black people who had never grew up around a lot of black people. It was the first time I realized that most white people have their preconceived notions on black people and you can’t really do much to change their minds no matter how hard you try. That’s why I decided not to go to a PWI. My dad is white and his sister never wants him to take care of me. She never liked my mom and she never liked me. She was really mad that I decided to go to Howard University. She doesn’t like that he provides for me or that I can’t give him money when he needs it even though she knows I’m a college student. She didn’t even know how old I was until a couple weeks ago. That’s when I realized society doesn’t allow us, as black people, to be children. That’s why I decided not to go to a PWI. I knew that I could only succeed in a space that was designed for me to succeed, because I know America was not. I believe that America loves black culture and not black people. I believe America doesn’t know how to be held accountable for its actions. I believe at an HBCU, blacks will always succeed because they are surrounded by an empowering and uplifting community. A lot of my friends go to PWIs because they want to prove to white people that blacks aren’t a monolithic group, but I’m past that fight. I don’t need to prove anything to anybody. People say an HBCU is not the real world, but it’s my world. I live in one of, if not the, richest area for blacks in this country. Every school I went to in my area was predominantly black. The problem isn’t that a predominantly black society isn’t the real world, it’s that there’s a history of making sure we “stay in our place” and don’t build too many productive black cities and states. I don’t have to go to school to learn how to work or live in a community with white people because life isn’t that complicated. I believe that an HBCU will prepare me for the real world because I’ll be a powerful person after I graduate. The real world isn’t white people being rewarded for mediocrity while we work ourselves to death to even be considered. I’m not saying that a PWI won’t teach you how to uplift the black community and be a better version of yourself, but it’s about being unapologetic about who you are and the things you cannot change. When I was in a predominantly white high school, I felt horrible about myself for simply existing. I won’t deny that PWIs can offer great opportunities and not all of them are 99% white, but I won’t sacrifice my mental health to debate with white classmates every day how slavery still effects our communities. I believe blacks would succeed more at an HBCU because it gives a different representation of blackness that the world tries to hide. Representation is a powerful thing because it changes how you look at yourself. We are a powerful community and there is power in numbers.

Gay Marriage by Symmone Brown

After years in the fight for acknowledgement and universal civil rights, The United States has granted the Union of marriage to gay couples.

This groundbreaking event has rocked the waters of many people here in the U.S., whether they were in favor or in fact against the unanimous decision. Nationwide members and supporters of the LGBT community came together in celebration, which was just in time for the annual pride parades in cities across the country.  

Marriage for gay couples is going to change the future completely as we know it, transforming the societal definition of love and family. The diverse community of our society is finally represented with this decision to grant same love for all.