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  • Sep 23 2015

    How to get away with excellence

    Jillian Smith | Staff Writer

    On September 20, history was made as Viola Davis became the first African-American woman to take home an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

    Davis won for her role in “How to Get Away With Murder,” an ABC drama in which she plays Annalise Keating, a brilliant criminal defense lawyer and professor.

    This was a major stride for African-American women, considering that the only other black woman to receive an Emmy for leading actress was Isabel Sanford in 1981. She won for her role in the comedy series “The Jeffersons.”

    While many more doors have been opened for black women in film, television has been a different battle considering the lack of leading roles available.

    “The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity,” Davis said during her speech. “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people…People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.”

    To you Viola, we say congratulations, and thank you. Thank you for breaking down one more barrier and opening one more door, allowing a new light to shine on our culture.


  • Feuding music artists Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus Photos by Wikimedia
    Sep 10 2015


    THREA ALMONTASER |  Correspondent

    If you caught the 2015 VMA’s, you would know that famous line means much more than the simple, “Hey, how have you been?”
    Famous female rapper Onika Maraj known to the world as Nicki Minaj, called out the award show’s host, singer Miley Cyrus.

    “And now, back to this b***h that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?,” said Minaj on stage to after accepting the award for best hip hop video of the year, referring to a past interview where Cyrus spoke strongly against the rapper’s view of the music industry’s weak support when it comes to black musicians, and how they seem to favor others such as America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, the perfect representation of a “blue eyed, blonde haired, skinny white girl.”

    Speaking of blonde, Miley also decided to sport blonde dreads at the award show, getting a lot of love from magazines like Hollywood Life, who claimed that the “host rocks amazing blonde dreads!” while many others like the Huffington Post feel it stirred a serious and complex controversy around cultural appropriation.
    For those who aren’t familiar, “appropriation occurs when a style leads to racist generalizations or stereotypes where it originated, but is deemed as high fashion, cool, or funny when the privileged take it for themselves,” explianed actress Amandla Stenberg who played “Rue” in the movie “The Hunger Games”, when she shocked the country with her culturaly aware blog post in April.

    It’s true that when African-American actress Zendaya Coleman wore the same hair style as Miley at the Oscars on the television series Fashion Police she was infamously described as smelling like “patchouli oil and weed” on the red carpet. This was not so true for other famous celebrities such as Cyrus and Kendall Jenner in the past, both having been revered as “amazing” and “edgy” for their new looks.

    The comments from both sides of the VMA controversy received a lot of negative backlash and positive attention alike from fans on social media, under the hashtag, #VMAS2015. Some wrote in support of Minaj, posting, “Taylor Swift wins everything.” with a snooze emoji beside it, while others were with Cyrus, commenting that “Miley Cyrus killed it as the host!”

    This eventful night clearly had an undertone of spoken truth beneath all the drama. The broader issue of black artist’s lack of recognition, and the ongoing growth of cultural appropriation within those red carpet events.
    Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is one of many who appropriate themselves into the black culture. Known as the “drag queen” of hip hop, her performances mimic that of a southern black girl. The only difference is she can’t trace her roots back to that specific culture.

    The reason people are outraged by her is because she gets profit from selling black sound while having white appeal. Azalea refers to herself as a “White girl with a ghetto ass” in her song “We Go Hard.” White supremacy just oozes out of that single lyric alone.

    This type of unfair artist recognition has happened many times before. Like when Ben William Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, retrieved the 2013 Grammy against Kendrick Lamar. But, at least Haggerty sticks with his culture’s sound of a northeastern white guy. It’s still hard to ignore the obvious charm his skin color has on certain audiences which can very possibly contribute to this monetary success. Inspiration can easily become appropriation, and it’s difficult to control without upsetting or being seen as an offensive thief. And this hasn’t just been happening in recent years. Chuck Berry’s rock and roll career was outshined by Elvis Presley, “a white man who sounds, feels, and performs black.”

    It’s sad not only because white artists are rewarded for using black culture, but that years of black accomplishments and musical brilliance are being thrown into the back of the closet, eclipsed and overlooked.
    White advantage has been procuring black culture’s rewards time and again. This is a problem that Minaj figured had to be spoken up about, in the most clear-as-day manner she could possibly think of was during the 2015 VMA’s.

  • Attendees of the African American Cultural Center’s annual Harambee event join hands to form a circle in celebration of community at NC State on Tuesday, September 1.
    Sep 10 2015


    NIA DOAKS | Managing Editor

    On Tuesday, September 1, the African American Cultural Center and AYA Ambassadors hosted their annual community-welcoming event, “Harambee!” Harambee is Swahili for “Let us come together” and is meant to be an opportunity to welcome new members and celebrate existing members of our community.

    The event began with a “Call of the Drums”, done by three members of the African Student Union. Following this were the greetings and permission from the elders to start the ceremony, and the pouring of Libation by Dr. Craig Brookins, associate professor of psychology and Africana Studies and director of the College of Humanities interdisciplinary studies program. The ritual pouring of libation is meant to be a way of showing thanks- it involves water, earth, and the community.

    Each time Brookins poured water into the earth, members of the community speak a word of thanks. This begins the event with an element of positivity and thankfulness. Kinesha Harris, Programming Intern for the Cultural Center and president of AYA Ambassadors, said that the pouring of Libation was her favorite part of the event. “In terms of planning, we have to figure out who is going to do the Call of the Drums, pour Libation, and speak,” said Harris.

    “Harambee is an excellent opportunity for new students, new faculty and the people of the community to get together and learn more about each other and the community.”

    Dr. Craig Brookins speaking at the beginning of Harambee. The event took place Tuesday, September 1st, in the Sankofa room of Witherspoon.

    Dr. Craig Brookins speaking at the beginning of Harambee. The event took place Tuesday, September 1st, in the Sankofa room of Witherspoon.

    Following the pouring of libation was the performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing by Matthew Wright, a sophomore majoring in graphic design. Immediately after was the public welcoming of new interim director of the AACC, Dr. Frances Graham into the community. One important part about Harambee is the opportunity for networking and meeting the campus leaders.

    A portion of the program is dedicated to the introduction of the African American student leaders as well as new faculty, staff and students. Harambee is an event that is rooted in tradition in the N.C. State Community. “We always do the introduction of the student leaders in AASAC and the new members of the community- that’s something that’s always set in stone,” said Harris. “It’s important for students to become acquainted with each other and learn about other organizations and what they stand for.” This is a valuable event for new students as they become adjusted to college life.

    “Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from the event- I heard about it from Mama Thorpe at the Multicultural Symposium,” remarked Kristin Weathersby, a freshman in textile engineering. “I learned a lot about how the organizations work and how respectful the community is to their elders and ancestors.” The most exciting tradition during the event is towards the closing, when students, faculty and staff join hands in a large circle around the Sankofa room.

    In unison, all members of the community repeatedly yell “Harambee!”, holding out the last word to represent the commitment to unity and improving the community. “There’s always a good turnout for Harambee, because it’s one of the best programs of the year,” said Harris. “Hopefully, students take away from this event that we are a community, and as a community we should help, uplift, and acknowledge each other. We are all here, and should be resources to one another.”

  • playlist
    Aug 12 2015

    Playlist for the Walk to Class

    Alfred Anderson
    Staff Writer

    On August 19th, you and thousands of your peers will parade around the brick-paved labyrinth known as North Carolina State University. In between trips to the bookstore, the library and class, you’ll find that many students choose to listen to music for both entertainment and motivation. Furthermore, being a campus DJ, I’m always listening music, whether it’s just for fun or in preparation for my next big gig. So, with that being said, here are several songs that you should add to your playlists, guaranteed to help you survive long and sometimes agonizing walks to class.

    Future – Commas
    It’s hard to name an artist that has been hotter than Future over the past year. With the release of three consecutive mixtapes (Monster, Beast Mode and 56 Nights) as well as his third studio album Dirty Sprite 2, Future has continued to rack in hit after hit with tracks such as “March Madness”, “Trap N*ggas” and “Commas”. I chose Commas as an appropriate song for this playlist because not only is it the most commercially successful of the three, but it is also a club anthem tailored to those ready to blow their latest check. It is perfect for college students preparing for graduation, as they explore the crowded job market.

    Kevin Gates – I Don’t Get Tired
    Although still considered an “underground artist” by some, Kevin Gates has consistently pieced together solid bodies of work over the past few years and his singles are no different. His hit single “I Don’t Get Tired” was released in late 2014 and became his most successful record to date and revolves around one of his most popular phrases: “I Don’t Get Tired.” This record is a great tool for students that find themselves on the seventh floor of DH Hill every night, completing assignments and studying for exams.

    Future Feat. Drake – Where Ya At
    Circling back to Future, this song is one of the many highlights from Dirty Sprite 2 and features the self-proclaimed “6 God” himself, Drake. It is the only feature on the album and does not disappoint. Future and Drake sound right at home on this energetic track aimed at calling out those that were nowhere to be found during hardship and struggle. All college students can relate, seeing as college is a never ending challenge that exposes you to who is truly there for you and who is not.

    Drake – Charged Up
    At the end of July, Meek Mill “shook the world” when he took at aim at Drake via Twitter. He accused Drake of “not writing his own raps” and having a ghost writer named Quentin Miller. In the following days, alleged reference tracks would leak, seemingly revealing that Meek’s accusations were indeed valid and turning all eyes to Drake. In the past, Drake has not been quick to respond to any accusations, but this time he decided to address the situation and releasing a response track titled “Charged Up”. The track takes shots at Meek and anyone that dares to question his penmanship. It is a mellow, yet effective track that can act as motivation to students when it seems like the world is against you.

    Drake – Back to Back
    Four days after Drake released “Charged Up” he released a second response track titled: “Back to Back”. This track sped up the tempo a little bit and showcased a more abrasive side of Drake, which really helped to turn the attention to Meek, who had yet to respond to Drake’s first diss track. This song is useful for walks to class because once you get past the fact that it is technically a diss track, it is a classic Drake song that consists of Drake talking tough (whether he can back it up or not) over stellar production and dropping one-liners that are sure to dominate pop culture for months to come. This makes for a high energy, celebratory track that will make you feel unstoppable, no matter what challenges you may face in the classroom and beyond.

    Kendrick Lamar – Alright
    One of my favorite albums from this past year is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and the song “Alright:” is definitely one of the best songs on the album. Kendrick is considered by many to be the conscious of Hip-Hop. Here, he delivers a catchy anthem that in the face of controversial issues like racism and police brutality guarantees that, “we gon’ be alllllright!” Which can be viewed as somewhat of a rallying call for college students whom often serve as catalysts for social change and progress.

    Migos – Spray the Champagne
    Whether you’re in the club or not, you cannot go to many places without hearing the rap trio of Quavo, Offset and Takeoff (Migos). Moreover, with the recent release of their debut album Young Rich Nation, the track “Spray the Champagne” follows the proven Migos formula, consisting of a catchy hook paired with their unique flow and delivery. This track celebrates success in the rap game, but really can be applied to anything. Quavo’s triumphant requests to “Spray the Champagne!” is enough to make any college student want to make a toast and celebrate their accomplishments.
    Fetty Wap Feat. Drake – My Way (Remix)
    Another one of the hottest artists of the year is Fetty Wap. In the spring, his second major single “My Way” got a facelift via a remix featuring Drake and has reached astronomical heights. Outside of class and parties, college students experience the highs and lows of relationships. This song is a fitting dedication to that special someone in your calculus class and serves as a cry for him or her to finally come your way.

    Cool Amerika – Make Sum’ Shake and K. Camp – Po’ Up & Go Up
    At the end of the week, it is always time to unwind. You have been trapped in DH Hill and your dorm rooms studying for exams and writing essays all week and come Friday, you are ready to turn up and let loose. These two songs serve as the perfect escape from your stressful academic life. The upstart duo Cool Amerika has polarized the south with their strip club anthem “Make Sum’ Shake”, which doubles to provide motivation as it declares that regardless of what life throws your way, you have the ability to “make sum’ shake” (or make the best out of a situation). In addition, K. Camp adds to his impressive catalog with this club-ready cut, inviting all comers to pour up cups of their favorite “beverages” and proceed to take the turn up to a higher level. These songs are work great on Friday walks to class as you gear up for whatever your resident DJ (DJ Fredo) may have in store for you that weekend.