Benyame Assefa | Correspondent
Photo courtesy of Facebook
With the start of 2016, the concept of ‘new’ is lingering close-by. For the new Assistant Director at the African American Cultural Center (AACC), Dawn Morgan, the ‘new’ 2016 involves more than just a few resolutions; it means a new office.
Q: So tell us about yourself.
A: I am from Rochester, NY where I graduated from Nazareth College with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Multicultural Studies in 2005. I continued working full-time and attended Buffalo State College part-time, eventually earning an M.S. in Student Personnel Administration in 2010. In 2011, I moved to North Carolina as a newlywed, and worked at Elon University as an Assistant Director in housing. In 2013, I accepted a position at NC State in the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics and Public Service (CSLEPS).
Q: What were your roles as as coordinator at CSLEPS?
A: As Coordinator of CSLEPS, I was responsible for developing and executing a number of programs, mostly related to leadership development. Some signature programs I was responsible for included Leadership In Action (until its final graduation in 2014), LeaderShape, Service NC State Meal Packaging Event and advising Campus Pals. Another exciting opportunity and one that I am particularly proud of was chairing the Student Leader Training Committee. Last year, we hosted the first Leaders Under Construction themed conference for these students and will continue with that initiative this year…(look out for this opportunity on April 16th!).
Q: What are some of your new roles?
A: My new role is a balance of programmatic and administrative responsibilities. I will be coordinating artists and their work for the African American Cultural Center’s Gallery and co-advising the AYA ambassadors. I am also focused on establishing new initiatives and enhancing current programs centered around leadership development for students associated with the center, promoting undergraduate and graduate level research as well as connecting with faculty to extend learning opportunities beyond the classroom, for those wanting to learn more about African American people and cultures represented in the diaspora.
Q: What are some things you are excited about?
A: I am thrilled to be working with students and a professional team that are connected to, engaged in and have the desire to enhance learning and awareness around something I am so passionate about: black culture and experiences. That excitement is then amplified by the fact that it is the AACC’s 25th anniversary. This is the perfect time to think about what the AACC means to us as members of the NC State and surrounding community and consider giving back to ensure we can continue being of service to future generations. Thankfully, through the support and guidance from Dr. Graham and Mama Thorpe, my first program will be a gallery opening on February 2nd at 6pm. The exhibit is entitled “The Soul of Philanthropy” and will focus on a rich history of ‘giving back’ in the black community. We hope many of our students and campus colleagues will join us to celebrate and participate in the African American Cultural Center’s 25th year in this way.
Q: Lastly, any idea what the sex of the baby is?
A: HAHA! I am so delighted that our campus friends and family are so excited about our Little Peanut. My partner, Garry Morgan (who also works on campus, in OIED) and I are waiting until birth to find out the baby’s sex. In the meantime, prayers, positive thoughts and hugs are welcomed as we eagerly await their arrival in April.
Congrats to Ms. Morgan in her new position, and her upcoming role as a mother.
Stephanie Tate | Correspondent
Homecoming is time of joy, laughs, and an excessive amount of Wolfpack pride. Amidst the issues of cultural and racial insensitivity on our campus I felt as though it was time that we analyze both our past and our future as African American students here at NC State.
Homecoming provided the perfect opportunity to do so as many black alumni had returned just in time for many of the Black Alumni Society events. Homecoming weekend was filled with a number of events catered to create a family atmosphere among black alumni, however one of the events with the most familial atmosphere was the tailgate.
On Saturday Oct. 31, three hours prior to kick off of the homecoming football game the Black Alumni Society, along with their umbrella organization the NC State Alumni Association, hosted their annual tailgate. The tailgate included food catered by Backyard Bistro, a live band called Sleeping Booty, and a ton of laughter. A bystander might have mistaken the tailgate for a family reunion, I know I sure did.
While interacting with some of the alumni, I was afforded the opportunity to observe how much of a pack members of the Black Alumni Society actually are. With that being said, the society is looking to increase the size of their pack.
President, Carmita Bass, a 2005 accounting graduate, said “we would love to see more young alumni and pass the torch.” Bass noted that young alumni add creative and innovative ideas, while the society provides young alumni with wonderful networking opportunities. During her time at NC State, Bass was no stranger to student involvement. She served as student body treasurer, a chancellor’s aide, a peer mentor, and a chancellor’s liaison to name a few. Watching Bass float around the tailgate and interact with guests was almost a magical experience.
She is passionate about the society, its members, and the opportunities that the society provides. In the midst of line jackets from a variety of years, and vintage NC State paraphernalia, were the young alumni.
“The connections I’ve made helped me transition from undergrad to graduate school and the Facebook group keeps me updated on the community events,” said Lauren Evans, who received both her undergraduate degree in fashion and textile management and most recently a Master’s degree in global luxury management from NC State said NC State prepared her for both the graduate program and now the professional world.
Kendal Hudson, a 2013 mechanical engineering graduate, wants to see more young alumni getting involved in the Black Alumni Society.
“Being an engineering graduate from NC State puts you a step ahead, it sets you apart.”
Material Science and Engineering graduate, Leodis Jennings of the 1983 class, said of the many lessons he learned while being at NC State is perseverance and problem solving skills. Jennings pronounced “It wasn’t easy” when recalling his experience as a student here. He encourages students to cherish their time here, remember that NC State will prepare you to be successful, and learn how to get along with others.
“Build relationships, because you cannot do it by yourself,” Jennings said.
Felecia Keenan, a 2011 English graduate, offered similar words of wisdom. Keenan wants students to remember that you will “earn” your degree at NC State and to be aware of the support system around them.
“It easy to get distracted, your chances of failure are greater than those of success, but remain focused. There is a lot of support at State, including mentorships through the Black Alumni Society.”
Among the mouthwatering banana pudding, the old school jams, and the bomb sweet tea sat those who have already been in our shoes looking to extend to us words of wisdom and helping hands. The Black Alumni Society is filled with former students with experiences similar to our own, willing to be resources if only we’d allow them to be.
Being a part of the Wolfpack is a lifetime commitment and it does not end once we turn our tassels in PNC, in fact that step is just the beginning.
Sep 23 2015
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.
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.
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