Black Ink Magazine: February 2016, Black History Month Recap Issue

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Hello Readers!

First off, we would like to say happy Black History Month and welcome to Black Ink Magazine’s Black History Month Issue! This issue is near and dear to all of the hearts at Black Ink because we truly seek to create content that encompasses all black collegiate. Our last issue was our reintroduction to the Carolina community, and this issue seeks to carry on the legacy of Black Ink with pieces that celebrate the past and highlight current issues. For this reason, we chose our cover photo that shows the first three Black undergraduate students to enroll at our university – Leroy Frasier, John Lewis Brandon, and Ralph Frasier.

As children, we were all taught to immerse ourselves in Black culture and history. It is important to understand our past so that we can adequately create a better future. Now, it is time to push to enact the change we wish to see.

This Black History Month issue is unique because this month has been an interesting month both nationally and even on campus. We celebrate and salute the accomplishments of many students that are pivotal in the Black community here at Chapel Hill and also take an in-depth look on mainstream issues.

The staff at Black Ink hope to excite you as well as continue a tradition of excellence and empowerment by displaying content that is relevant and impactful to the Black millennial generation. Be sure to check out our piece on Bradley Opere, UNC’s Student Body President, as we take an in-depth look into who he is and what he will do for the campus as a whole.

We at Black Ink seek to be one of the leading voices of the Black community. Be sure to check us out on Twitter and Instagram!

Katrice L. Mitchell, ’16

Editor-In-Chief

A Voice for the People: Bradley Opere Elected as Student Body President

Feature Story

By: Dominque Brodie (’19), Staff Writer

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You know how everything around you can tell you to be small, and you decide to rebel against it?

Learning to rebel against that feeling is exactly what made Student Body President-Elect Bradley Opere want to enter the race in the first place.

Opere, a junior in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, won the February election with an astounding 53% of the overall vote, beating out two other candidates: Wilson Sink and John Taylor. Opere’s is the first victory without a runoff election in at least the last 5 years (one candidate must receive over 50% of the vote to win without a runoff) and according to the Kenya native, is right on time.

A Morehead-Cain Scholar, Opere says, “My feeling was that within UNC and everything that had happened last semester, it was time for people of color to figure that we could define this University in the ways we wanted, and that appealed to me.”

Adding to this, Opere feels that he has found a sense of home within Student Government.

After working within Student Government’s Multicultural and Diversity Outreach Committee for two years, he intends to use his presidency as a larger platform to continue the work he’s been doing. This home in Student Government is one that has been essential to Opere’s Carolina experience, especially as someone who has somewhat of a hard time defining where home really is. Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya and moving to South Africa around the age of 17, then to North Carolina two years later, Opere finds it difficult for people to understand and identify with the many diverse experiences that shape his current perspective.

On what will be his biggest challenge, Opere said, “It’s so unique to have me that I think it’s going to take a lot of understanding from the Student Body to see where I’m coming from or to see why I see things the way I do. It’s very easy to be misinterpreted, so I think that’s going to form a bulk of the work: having a lot of students grasp where exactly I want to take us and why I’m doing it.”

As the only non-white candidate in the race, Opere says that his race was always a factor for his campaign. Opere tried to put little emphasis on race throughout his campaign and doesn’t want it to define his presidency, but he knows that it will continue to be a big factor going forward.

Opere’s victory was extremely meaningful for many students from marginalized backgrounds, because not only is he a person of color, but an international student from Africa. This is not to mention Opere’s personal troubles and his initial struggle to even get on the ballot. The day the candidates’ petitions to appear on the ballot (requiring 1,250 student signatures) were due, Opere was granted a 24 hour extension because he had initially fallen short of the 1,250 mark. The many obstacles set before Opere were clearly not enough to dissuade him from running–and ultimately winning.

The election of a Black SBP, however, is not completely new to Carolina: Richard Epps was the first Black person to hold the office in 1972. In the context of 2016, though, this moment doesn’t seem so rare. In a time when the President of the U.S. is Black, the president of CUAB is Black, the Carolina Union Board of Directors Chair is Black, and many Black students have prominent roles throughout campus, it seems to fit that our new Student Body President is Black as well.

Seeing faces of color in leadership, however, can be misleading. The presence of Black and brown people in those roles doesn’t necessarily mean that those people will positively and accurately represent the views of the larger non-white community. This causes a common fear among the black student community: that our varied voices will be homogenized or that Bradley’s opinions and perspectives as a black person will be appropriated to the entire population of Black UNC students.

Opere thinks his voice will be one singular voice for part of the community, but he hopes that student groups and individual student leaders who have had large voices in the past will continue to use those voices to work together towards change. He says, “I hope those voices keep being heard, and wherever I can contribute my voice, I will.”

This kind of collaboration and community building was an essential component of Opere’s campaign, and he intends to continue using community as a means of getting things done.

He spoke several times about how much the help of others contributed to his success and how his future success will depend on partnerships with other student groups, saying, “Yes, the bulk has to start with me, but I need a lot of campus leaders to know that my success depends very much on their acceptance of our goals as their own. I will be spending a lot of time with campus groups to make sure that our priorities are also theirs.”

As far as policies, Opere’s main priorities seem to include a  partnership with the Racial Equity Institute, increasing Student Government’s visibility on campus, and working towards better sexual assault policies.

Opere is clearly very dedicated to enacting change on our campus for everyone, but especially for minority groups. He wants a main focus to be simply making people care about the issues. He believes that “for minority issues, we need more people that aren’t just minorities showing up and getting educated, because it’s not just up to people of color to educate people on the issues.”

Opere also intends to put more of his own effort towards caring about these issues than past Student Body Presidents. He believes that this will be one of the biggest expectations of him from black students specifically.

“The main issue throughout the years has been that, black students have always really questioned if SBPs really care about them or if they simply come because they want votes,” he says.

Opere certainly cares, and will certainly be a unique Student Body President. When we asked what he was most looking forward to, he laughed and said, among many things, “I’m looking forward to telling a different story.”

We’re certain it will be a story well worth telling, and can’t wait to watch Opere’s journey over the next 8 months.

Spotlight: Kimberly Clarida

By: Kamaara Lucas (’16), Staff Writer and Executive Public Relations Coordinator

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Carolina’s campus is full of talented, passionate student leaders. To highlight the achievements of one of these hard working Tar Heels, we sat down with Kimberly Clarida. Clarida is a senior Public Policy major with minors in both Education and Entrepreneurship. She has served in numerous on-campus positions and has started two non-profit organizations, Reaching Up and the TSC Scholarship Foundation.

B.I: How does it feel to have founded two non-profit organizations? Can you tell me a bit more about them?

K.C: “Surprisingly, I do not feel too special. While I do consider it a blessing to know that I have opportunities to impact the lives of other people, I also know that both organizations operate on a very small scale and there is so much for me to do to enhance them. So, maybe it is also exciting to know that I have room to grow and develop within two outlets for the good of others.

The smallest of the two is an organization called Reaching Up (RU). I was awarded the Bryan Social Innovation Fellowship through the Carolina Center for Public Service for this project. At this current moment, it serves as a program that works to equip the youth in Columbus County to become active citizens, while helping them with character, leadership, and academic skills. RU serves youth 10-15 years old, and strives to push these young people to exceed their self-expectations and become passionate about their community. To develop passionate community leaders, a variety of team-building activities, sessions, events and resources, including mentors, are offered. Having the opportunity to allow youth to conduct community service is a win-win: the youth become involved while the community benefits from their service.

Near and dear to my heart is the TSC Scholarship Foundation. It was established in 2012-2013 with the help of family and friends. My brother passed away in a motorcycle accident on a Sunday night in July. When I was younger, he was extremely proud and supportive of my academic accomplishments. I remember him pointing to my middle school awards to explain to his daughter the value of education and hard work. So, annually the scholarship foundation hosts a bike rally and cookout as a part of motorcycle awareness for the month of May. The funds that we raise go directly towards a college scholarship to a high school senior. So far, we have given out two scholarships. This year, we will be releasing our third scholarship at our fourth bike rally.

I really look forward to revamping both organizations to increase the number of youth participants for both, and to increase our advocacy efforts and the amount of funding we are able to give students.”

B.I: Aside from these, what are you involved in on campus?

K.C: “Currently, I serve as the Co-Executive director of Healthy Girls Save the World, and as a  participant in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program. In the past, I have also held various positions both on and off campus, including serving as a Sean Douglas Leadership Fellow through the Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History, a Student Guide in the First Look Outreach Program, a Classroom Volunteer at Philips Middle School, an ESL Tutor at Culbreth Middle School, and a Team Leader, Volunteer, and Tutor at Communiversity After-School Youth Program. I was driven to participate in many of these organizations because of my love for education and youth.”

B.I: What is unique about your Carolina experience?

K.C: “My Carolina experience is unique because it has not necessarily been what I expected it to be. I have faced an array of moments that vary from me being extremely happy to me questioning my decision to enroll here. But by the grace of God, I was able to make it through each moment. The individual I was when I first stepped foot on this campus has transformed into someone who is holistically better. I barely recognize the old Kim. Funny thing is, I cannot remember exactly how it happened. It just happened. I can remember being involved in the Gospel Choir, Communiversity, and then a couple of other organizations. Eventually, in the midst of the time I spent serving others, I figured out my passions and who I really was as a young adult. So, my Carolina experience is unique because of the many facets that have molded me. I have learned how to respond to racism, to ignorance, to my own low-self esteem, to negativity, and, most importantly, to life.”

B.I: What advice would you give a younger student who is looking to leave their Heelprint?

K.C: “Do not force it. For the most part, prints are not something that you intentionally leave. You don’t wake up in the morning and say I am going to leave my prints all over my room and classroom today. No. When you live purposefully, prints will just appear. If I could advise a younger student on how to leave their Heelprint, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to utilize their gifts doing what they love to do! For me, leaving a Heelprint was not something I had to jump through mega hurdles to accomplish. It was a part of my natural rhythm. Yes, there were times when I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and challenged to think and work harder, but it was because I was perfecting my gifts to achieve things that were special to me. And when I turned around, there it was…my Heelprint.”

Opinion Blog: #OscarsSoWhite

By: Katrice Mitchell (’16), Staff Writer and Editor-in-Chief

As a media savvy movie buff and lover of everything pop culture, the topic “#OscarsSoWhite” caught my eye. As I was writing this I began thinking how often I watch the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the Academy Awards and see very few people that look like me get awarded.

“All the time.”

More often than not there maybe a few sprinkles of color in these award shows, but for the second consecutive year in a row there will be no African-American nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards.

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With the Academy Award nominations announced on January 13th, a subsequent firestorm from many African-American actors and actresses in Hollywood erupted.

This is a topic that has divided Hollywood for decades. Some have wondered if the lack of diversity was rooted in the sparse amount of roles African-Americans received in the past. This may have been true in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Even then there were actors and actresses who were simply ignored such as Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge for their role in Carmen (yes peeps, Beyonce did not originate that role lol).

Sadly the Academy is not new to #OscarsSoWhite, they are true to this.

The blunt reality is that the Academy simply DID NOT vote for films or roles that African-American actors/actresses participated in.

The way the nomination process works is very simple. For the four acting categories- voters (members of the Academy aka fellow actors) are asked to list up to five names, ranked in the order of preference. These ballots are then sorted out based on the voters’ first-place ranking.  Actors who receive enough first-place votes become nominees. After that the process continues until there are five nominees.

This may seem fair but of course it is not. There are less than 30% non-white members of the Academy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we are not equally represented.

Since this topic has been everywhere I found it interesting that it has FINALLY been spotlighted with news segments, articles, and many interviews.

While this issue has gained a substantial amount of attention the interesting component is the celebrity reaction on social media. George Clooney, Brad Pitt (a past visitor of swirl-world), Jada Pinkett-Smith, Don Cheadle and many more have spoken out against the Academy’s lack of diversity.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, actress and humanitarian Pinkett-Smith released a video on her Facebook page calling for a boycott of the Academy Awards because of the lack of diversity. Director Spike Lee, who received an honorary Oscar last year, also called for a boycott of the ceremony with a photo posted to his Instagram account.

Though Janet Hubert-Whitten (the first Aunt Viv, who has beef with Will) thinks this is wrong, I strongly agree with this stance.

Why should African-Americans continue to perform at the show, present an award, tell a good joke, and maybe win an award at an event where the powers at hand don’t appreciate THEIR art enough to even nominate them?

Now I’m not saying boycott the Oscars forever, but in a time such as this there is nothing wrong with taking a stand for what is right. We must remember that these issues have been prevalent in Hollywood and media as a whole for a very long time.

Eddie Murphy brought this issue to light in his speech while presenting an Academy Award at the 1988 ceremony. His statement speaks to the very issue we are discussing now, “Every 20 years we get one, so we aren’t due for one until 2004. I’ll give this award, but Black people will not ride the caboose of society, and we will not bring up the rear anymore, and I want you to recognize us.”

Sadly there hasn’t been much change in the narrative of African-Americans and the Academy. In the Academy’s 88 year history there have only been 32 Oscars awarded to African-American talent.

The advent of social media and advanced technology has allowed our society to see a furthered discussion on this topic. The hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” and Pinkett-Smith’s video opened the gateway for an interview featuring Will Smith (whom everyone thought was going to be nominated) and Robin Roberts discussing the open secret of the lack of diversity.

The public disgust of this has prompted the Academy to “make changes” to their lack of diversity. This controversy serves as an example of how social media can attempt to affect change. By giving individuals a platform to express their thoughts and foster two-way communication, we are able to see how social media shapes our society.

Who knew it would only take a video and photo from some of Hollywood’s elites mentioning a boycott of the Academy Awards for the Academy to pull their heads up from the sand?

Pinkett-Smith was right, we need to realize and utilize our power, for we are powerful.

The Academy can not afford to keep snubbing deserving African-American actors and actresses, at least without hearing about it. Surely, Chris Rock will touch on it since he is hosting the ceremony.

The Academy “seems” to have noticed a great injustice they are inflicting upon a community of artists and moviegoers that only want recognition for their art, but the real question is: Will this change?

Off the Floor: My experience as an African-American dancer

By: Jasmine Neely (’16)

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I have been a dancer since I was three years old when my mother put me in dance at BB Dance Productions in Charlotte, N.C. Growing up, I never switched dance studios or took a year off from dance because I didn’t like it or was getting tired of it. I pretty much knew that dance was my passion at a young age.

I went from studio dancing to collegiate dancing, and, quite frankly, now that I am a senior dancer on the UNC Dance Team, I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life after graduation.

I find myself asking, “Will I dance for an NBA or NFL team? Will I just take classes, or will I fulfill my ultimate goal of dancing for Beyonce?” It’s unnerving to think about because I’m so used to dancing every week for a certain number of hours. Although my future in dance seems bleak right now, I will always cherish the opportunities I’ve had and the friends I’ve made through dance.

I’ve had so many experiences with dance since coming to UNC and being on the dance team. I came from a predominately black studio in Charlotte to a predominately white team at UNC.

One of the first things I noticed when joining the team was the emphasis put on getting spray tans. I had never worried about getting a spray tan for dance competitions or performances because I never needed it. It made me realize how important appearance really is, especially at games when people far up in the stands need to see what you’re doing on the field or on the court. I still have yet to get my spray tan, although I keep telling my teammates that I’ll try it out.

While noticing differences in appearance with my current teammates and my studio back home, I also noticed how difficult it can be on the dance team to pay for school and also pay for dance.

We work to get local sponsors from businesses, such as Sup Dogs and Hickory Tavern, but also have a lot of fundraisers that include selling posters and hosting dance clinics. We have to raise this money just to compete at NDA Nationals. Surprisingly, we are still not considered a Varsity Sport by the Department of Athletics. In lieu of this, we do not receive funding by the athletic department. Despite the time we spend practicing, we do not receive any sort of scholarship either. This aspect can be difficult at times because we are not guaranteed funding like other sports, such as football and basketball, yet other dance teams like East Carolina, Clemson and NC State receive some type of funding through their school. Although we can now apply for funding as a student organization, it’s not always guaranteed, and that is one of the tough things I have to figure out with my co-captains.

In spite of that shortcoming of the dance team, there are also many perks. I have been to just about every home basketball game and never have to worry about entering a lottery to get tickets. Now that I am a senior, I am grateful to have tickets for my family and friends to come to games. My dad and uncle’s dream was to see UNC play Duke, and they got to do that this year. Interacting with the basketball team at events such as Late Night With Roy is always fun too. The dance team gets to dance with them and see how they are as people off the court.

Throughout the years, I have also noticed that being on the team is similar to being a local celebrity. People on campus sometimes notice me without me knowing who they are. A lot of times people want pictures of us at games and recognize us on social media. It’s always funny to see what students say about us on social media sites such s Yik Yak and how many cheer and dance pages mention us. I think it’s pretty cool.

On the topic of social media, our coach always reminds us to be careful of what we post because we have to represent UNC well. Being aware of the small things such as this is important because, sometimes, I feel like I always have to watch what I do and what I say. Being held to a high standard on and off the court, field, or stage keeps me disciplined and grounded. These are things that dance has always taught me.

Many people don’t know that we compete for dance team. We spend a lot of time during the spring semester working on our nationals performances and preparing to compete against elite teams from all over the country in Daytona Beach, FL. Competing is what I am used to and is something that I enjoy, although it can be very nerve racking at times.

Being on the UNC Dance Team has been an interesting and great experience. From this, I was able to meet so many different people and make lots of friends all while doing what I love, which is truly the best part.

Spotlight: Merrick Osborne

By: Dominque Brodie (’19), Staff Writer

merrick Photo Source: http://www.carolinaunion.unc.edu

For one of our spotlights, we decided to sit down with CUAB President, Merrick Osborne. Osborne is a senior Psychology major with minors in Business Administration and Spanish for the Professions.  He serves as a leader in the realm of campus life and spearheads events such as Jubilee and other CUAB sponsored events for the UNC community.

B.I.: How does it feel to be in a notable position?

M.O.: “It feels good. I definitely would say that obtaining a position of leadership isn’t success, but I feel like I’ve been able to be a successful leader in this position. I hope people see that and appreciate that, but people also build on what my team and I have built. It feels good, but I can’t help but feel like I shouldn’t be the only one [person of color] up here.”

B.I.: What expectations do you think people had of you coming in as the first Black male CUAB president?

M.O.: “I think that people didn’t really have many expectations because they didn’t know what CUAB was. The expectations I had for myself were to lift as I climb. So I want to make sure that other people of color are involved in the organization. I want to make sure that the events that we had either encouraged discussion about racism and prejudice or made people of color feel like they’ve had a home. I think that we’ve done that. At the end of the day, I know that I’m going to leave CAUB a better organization than when I entered it. I also know that I’ve helped to create a culture that will hopefully program more towards the Carolina community.”

B.I.: Do you feel that you are a pillar in your community?

M.O.: “I feel like I’m visible, I think part of my job is to be visible. Part of my goal as ‘Merrick’ is always to support people like me and I think from this position I’ve started to do that through this and other organizations I’m involved with. A pillar? I don’t know. I think about that often like, if I didn’t go here, how different would this campus be? And obviously I can’t speak to that, but I think that I’ve done a good job with what I’ve had but I don’t know if I could call myself a pillar.”

B.I: What is unique about your Carolina experience?

M.O: “I think where a lot of students go wrong is they go through the day to day and they forget that there’s a bigger picture. The bigger picture, for me, should be more than the diploma. You definitely need to do well in your classes but equally important to that is to learn and to engage with different topics and to touch different lives. I just see a lot of people not doing that. I feel like I’ve been blessed to experience a more whole Carolina.”