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‘We Make It Our Own’: BSU 2017 Fashion Show reminds audience to live happily and unafraid in their own skin

Multimedia reporting by Mariah Posey | April 23, 2017

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Since 1986, the Black Student Union (BSU) — previously known as the Black Cultural Society — has been putting on a fashion show that places Elon University students of color at the forefront. This year on Saturday April 22 at 7:30p.m. in McKinnon, sophomore Kenneth Brown, special events coordinator for the Center for Race Ethnicity Diversity Education, wanted the show to deliver a message beyond fashion. He wanted both the models and the audience to feel empowered in their skin, and chose to base the stylings off of the popular 1987 black sitcom “A Different World.”

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Models stand together at the end of the show and receive a standing ovation.

“I wanted to allow them to see a different world,” Brown said. “A world in which we make it our own despite the things that make it seem like it’s not for us. I hope people learn that black people, we’re here. We’re trying to make a difference because this is our world, too.”

Aside from the fun elements of preppy clothing and dynamic struts across the stage, the show included several powerful segments. One in particular featured a song by Vince Staples entitled “Hands Up.” As the song repeated, “Put your hands in the air,” the models each lined up fighting the urge of their hands to give in to the requests. By the end of the struggle, their hands succeeded in their position of surrender.

Another powerful segment — which focused on business and business casual attire — devoted a portion to “black girl magic” and showed the models making confident strides down the stage, each making sure to give supportive high fives to one another as they crossed paths.

“My favorite part was the black girl magic,” said sophomore Kristin Wiggins. “No one ever talks about black girls, only about black men.”

 

For Wiggins and others in the crowd, it was refreshing to see support from multiple perspectives.

But the show didn’t stop at powerful statements. BSU staff sophomores Janay Tyson and Lana Logan also presented a $250 check to the Positive Attitude Youth Center in Burlington, North Carolina for their meaningful work with children and young adults. Tyson said that after having volunteered there and seeing the impact the center had, she realized their work was “amazing” wanted to help give back.

“Sometimes you do this work and it doesn’t get noticed,” she said.

For Brown, amongst the different things he hoped the show would accomplish, he most wanted for it to be a presentation of resilience.

“The largest portion of our history was dark and we weren’t very happy,” Brown said. “I wanted to showcase our happiness. I want people to take away that this our world and we make it our own.”

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‘The History of Stepping’ shows how using the body as an instrument is a powerful tool in uniting a culture

Multimedia journalism by Mariah Posey | March 27, 2017

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Panel members left to right: Janaé Williams, Anthony Chatman, William Henderson, Delaney Hinnant, Jessica Womak, Chris Blair.

Behind the powerful style of dance linked to African American culture and the nine National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek organizations is a powerful history that transcends centuries. What began as a means of survival for South African gold miners during the 19th century has become a unifying art form for an entire culture.

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Photo by therealafrican.com

In the 1880s during the Apartheid in South Africa, oppressive laws and harsh working conditions restricted the freedoms miners had. With dark work environments and forbiddance to speak with one other, the miners were left to find an alternative. Their solution involved the few things they could actually rely on: their bodies, gumboots and rhythm. Through slapping their boots, stomping their feet and rattling their shackles, they created beats and a strong form of communication called “Gumboot dancing.”

Eventually, the style of communication morphed into a style of dance called “stepping” that landed on Howard University’s campus in the 1920s. Through the decades, it continued to evolve incorporating vocal expressions. It has since weaved its way into the proud histories of NPHC Greek organizations.

In order to educate the students of Elon University on how stepping became a signature of black Greek organizations, NPHC hosted “The History of Stepping” this Monday March 27 in Moseley 215 at 5:30 p.m.

According to junior Janaé Williams, one of the panelists and member of the Xi Omicron chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, both stepping and strolling are linked to NPHC organizations but differ in their purposes.

“In stepping you use your body as the instrument in which you communicate a message whereas in strolling, you’re not so much an instrument but you’re moving in ways that are the same as the other members of your organization,” Williams said. “That’s why strolling is usually done in a line to perform unity between the brotherhood of sisterhood of your organization. Stepping doesn’t necessarily have to be in a line as long as your synchronized and making the same beats also making one sound.”

But although the organizations are known for their precise steps, it is not the forefront of their brotherhoods and sisterhoods according to senior Chris Blair, a member of the Sigma Mu chapter of Omega Psi Phi. He said servicing the community is what they most take pride in.

“We service the community and the people around us,” Blair said. “Each and every organization prides themselves off of service. It’s not about just looking good within each other, it’s about trying to help build the community. That’s what all of the fraternities and sororities were built off of. That’s how they were founded and that’s what they strive to do.”

The world’s deadliest terror group is also the most uncovered — Elon University Boko Haram Panel

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 15, 2017

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We know of ISIS, of Al Qaeda, of the attacks in Paris, of the crisis in Aleppo. But what about the massive tragedy that’s been going on since 2009, caused by what the Global Terrorism Index considers to be the deadliest terror group of the world: Boko Haram? In order to initiate necessary conversation surrounding the massive terror group’s impact, the Elon Politics Forum (EPF) hosted a panel Wednesday, Feb. 15 7-8p.m. in the McBride Gathering Space in partnership with Elon African Society.

The panel answered a series of critical questions: what can regional governments and United Nations do to promote female equality; how does the country go about achieving economic equality; what do we tell those persecuted because of Boko Haram? However, amongst these, one question in particular stood out and set the tone for what the major takeaway of the event would be.

“Why aren’t international terrorists like Boko Haram being covered on an international level?” asked sophomore Thomas Armooh, moderator of the event. It was one of the few questions that evoked a passionate response out of each of the panelists.

Expanding our worldly outlook

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Boko Haram panel members: (left to right) Bridget Smith, Dr. Ariela Marcus-Sells, David Olatidoye, Muhammad Musah.

“There’s this perception that ISIS and Al Qaeda might come here and hurt Americans … but Boko Haram is focused on first Nigeria and then Africa,” said senior panelist Bridget Smith. Because there’s no direct threat to America, she explained, “They’re easy to discount. They’re easy to dismiss.”

But that dismissal is exactly the problem according to senior panelist Muhammad Musa, who says that in order to see real change, “international cooperation is essential.” As a reporter stationed in Lagos, Nigeria for eight months, Musah was closer to Boko Haram’s threat than most will ever be. He constantly covered the mass killings and wrote headlines like, “14 Murdered in Bomb Blast,” but says even he recognized the apathy around him.

Because the people of Lagos felt distant from the terror going on just north of them, they lacked consideration. When people aren’t connected, Musah said, they don’t care. For him, that is why the educational aspect of Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram is so important.

Education is important, but so is money

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Senior Prateek Patel introduces topic and panel members

“There has to be an effort to talk to these Islamic teachers and tell them that it’s important to take away any radicalization in teaching,” he said.

One of the issues brought up in the panel was the lack of enforced education in Nigeria and how it perpetuates the negative impact of Boko Haram by ostracizing girls who are kidnapped by them. Because these girls are often raped and end up having the children of Boko Haram members, they are distrusted and rejected. Their infiltration has become so regular that even the government can’t decipher who’s a part of the terrorist organization and who’s not.

“Although education may lead to stability, it does not lead to jobs,” Marcus-Sells said.

Often, Nigerians feel immense financial pressure and view joining Boko Haram as a quick way to get paid. Musah seconded her statement adding that, “In a country like Nigeria, if you’re not connected to power you’re not going to touch money. So you going to school is a waste of your time.”

Marcus-Sells asked why a parent would risk their source of money to send their kids through years of schooling.

“If you don’t have an answer to that question, then none of these initiatives will ever work,” she said. “It almost feels like a disservice to have them spend four years getting that education for nothing to come out of it … In order for there to be that education, there needs to be employment.”

Elon’s Role

When asked what role students can play in aiding Nigeria’s cause, Marcus-Sells advised that whenever we have the means to give, to do so in a way that goes directly to the people in need. According to her, local organizations are more effective than larger ones such as the American Red Cross.

“If you can bypass the large aid organizations and go directly to the people already there … that can be really helpful,” she said.

She encouraged students to take the initiative to further educate themselves on foreign affairs, especially in countries like Africa and post the news that they find.

“For every negative article you post, post three positive ones,” she said. “People assume that all the things happening in Africa are terrible [and] they get exhausted because we all get exhausted by sadness.”

Lastly, she advised to not get caught up in the pressure to act on a large scale.

“My advice to students on all levels,” Marcus-Sells said, “[is] if you think smaller you might actually have a larger impact.”

A ‘light-hearted’ card making event at the Maker Hub

by Mariah Posey | Feb. 13, 2017

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Photo by Mariah Posey | Valentine’s Day cards created by Maker Hub staff using a vinyl silhouette cutter.

What better way to tackle complex machinery than to make Valentine’s Day cards with it? To celebrate the heartfelt holiday and kick off the 2017 year, the Maker Hub hosted their Crafty Cards event 7-8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13 in Harper Hall using a vinyl silhouette cutter to create fun Valentine Day cards.

“It’s the best piece of equipment in here for making cards and we figured Valentine Day cards were something that a lot of people would like to do based on what people have come to for past events,” said Maker Hub employee senior Sabrina van der Gracht. “The two seemed to go together and it was a good way to bring up that piece of equipment.”

To get attendees familiar with the equipment and software being used before jumping in, the event began with a step-by-step tutorial displayed on an overhead screen.

“It just shows a grid which is how the program works,” said sophomore Anthony Fraden. “There’s also a grid on a pad where you place the paper so it shows you how to size in one-square inch. Then it’d be basic cutting tools and basic ways to design shapes and different card styles so that we could make cards. We just go through the process doing some trial and error with different images and ultimately got some really cool cards out of it.”

Fraden described hub events as a “light-hearted space where everyone can be welcomed.” Although some of the equipment available in the hub can be challenging and require skill, he says that for the most part everything is open and accessible to everyone. While some things may require minor supervision, nothing is explicitly off-limits.

“Sometimes there [may be] little aspects about it that people don’t quite connect but after a bit of explaining and showing hands-on, people usually pick it up right away,” he said.

Senior Kat Westover was one of the attendees who was able to get the process down pretty quickly, even managing to manipulate a design into the computer software.

“I think it went pretty well,” Gracht said. “Kat’s been working on the silhouette cutter and at first it was a little bit rough, but after a couple of tries she’s basically doing it by herself.”

 

Another attendee, junior Sarah Hennenkamp, also ended the event feeling accomplished. She decided to make a card filled with cinnabons based on a running joke between her and her boyfriend. She says although she didn’t have many expectations regarding what she wanted to create, she likes how they turned out.

Gracht recognizes the Maker Hub as a place of humble beginnings for many event attendees and welcomes the learning process.

“For events in here, it’s usually people who have never used the equipment before,” Gracht said. “Because these are kind of starters to get people’s feet wet in how to use the equipment, it’s a good way to start with something simple that way they can come back in later.”