How Can You be a Better Woman?

Mia Concepcion | Staff Writer

Women are powerful. They are life-givers, agents of change, and when banded together, an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. 

However, many women have expressed that when issues arise such as lack of self-esteem and being compared to other women, it can be a major roadblock to self actualization. Another woman’s successes does not diminish your own. It must become a habit to celebrate one another instead of internalizing another’s victories as your defeat or inadequacy. Here are four ways to become the best woman you can be.

Stop living in fear

It’s so easy to hold back the real version of yourself to appease others. Trends are constantly circulating with people prepared to follow them. Step up and stand out! Be the person you envision yourself being, even if it’s uncomfortable. Go against the grain and break out of the monolithic mold society places on women. A second opinion is not always needed for the outfit you may consider wearing or the business you desire to start. The fear of being unliked, inadequate or dismissed should no longer be a thought. Don’t hold back any longer, and walk forth with confidence in your purpose. 

Former Miss Black Teen US Ambassador, Ciara White-Sparks, explained the doubts she had with confidence in pageantry, and how she overcame them.

“In order to be a winner, you have to think like a winner,” said White-Sparks. “When I go on stage, I don’t think about the competition. I think about, ‘I’ve already won this title. I’m just going to show the judges why they gave me this and know I’m going to execute it well.’”

Don’t compare yourself to other women 

Comparison is the thief of joy. It often leads to feelings of inadequacy and disappointment within oneself. Also, don’t see another woman as “better” than you. Don’t think that you have to become her just to feel good about yourself. Instead, be inspired by her, celebrate her victories with her, and see how that dose of inspiration causes you to evolve into the woman you aspire to be. Oftentimes, people notice qualities of others, wishing they had them. The truth is, you can have those qualities. In fact, you might already have them. You just have to find it. 

Practice body positivity 

Women are often burdened with the idea of having to be a certain shape or size that equates to beauty. Women have been conditioned to think that being skinny is what makes a body beautiful. However, it’s when an individual embraces the skin they are in that true beauty emanates. Therefore, love your body for what it is. Protect it and handle it with love, because it is a temple. 

Eva Davis, a senior molecular biology major and current Miss Phi Beta Sigma, shares a few practical ways to show your body more love.

“Try to find one thing you love about yourself every day and why,” said Davis. “Avoid face altering filters that will leave you questioning your true beauty.”

Practice self-love 

Self-love looks different for everyone because we all carry our own definitions of it. Therefore, fuel yourself with the activities and thoughts that drive your happiness. Do what you love, and love what you do. Do not feel the need to hold onto toxic relationships that are not worth your time. You are worth more. Invest in yourself and friendships that add value to your life. Finally, be sure to pour love into yourself in the same way that is done for others. Pouring out love can be difficult when it is done from an empty cup. 

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Nia White | Staff Writer

A current dilemma that faces many Americans today is whether or not to get vaccinated and which vaccine they should take. Currently there are three different types: Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Janseen/Johnson & Johnson. 

For Hampton students, vaccination is required for students to return to campus for the fall semester. Each of the vaccines’ goals is to “build protection” against the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says “COVID-19 vaccines build immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without actually getting sick. It takes a few weeks for the vaccine to build the immunity, so it is possible to get the virus right after receiving the vaccination.” As with any vaccine, side effects are possible. Common side effects of all vaccines at the site of the shot are pain, redness, and swelling. The vaccines also include other side effects such as tiredness, headache, muscle pain, chills, fever, and nausea.”

  With three vaccines currently being used by the American public, each vaccine has a different method of treatment. “The Moderna vaccine is a mRNA vaccine, which produces a protein that the immune system recognizes does not belong and is prevented from replicating,” said the Mayo Clinic. According to the CDC, “the vaccination process includes two shots, 28 days apart.” The vaccine is recommended for anyone age 18 and older; however, it is not recommended for those that have had an allergic reaction to any ingredient in the vaccine, specifically polyethylene glycol. 

  “The Pfizer-BioNTech is also a mRNA vaccine, that consists of two shots, 21 days apart,” said the Mayo Clinic. “This vaccine is recommended for anyone age 16 or older, but is not recommended for anyone who has had a severe or immediate allergic reaction,” said the CDC.   

According to the Mayo Clinic, “The Janssen Pharmaceuticals Companies of Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a viral vector vaccine, which means the weakened virus is inserted into cells and the immune system responds by creating antibodies to fight the virus.” “The J&J/Janssen vaccine only requires one shot,” says the  CDC.” The J&J/ Janssen vaccine is recommended for people aged 18 and older, but not for people who are allergic to polysorbate, which is found in the vaccine. 

While there are some differences between the vaccines all essentially prevent the same thing, which is the severity and spread of COVID-19.

Allergy Season Remedies

Brooklyn Young | Staff Writer

Spring is here! Which also means that allergy season is too. The pollen during this season can be bothersome and impose on outdoor activities. Not to worry, we have some home remedies that can alleviate those itchy eyes and running noses. 

Steam

If you’re anything like Jetaun Carpenter from Chicago, you might prefer in-home practices like steaming. You can use steam as a decongestant in a plethora of ways. 

  • Pair steam with essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint
  • Pair steaming water with citruses like lemon and/or oranges 
  • Taking steaming showers with eucalyptus plant 
  • Steam from mint or green tea with apple cider vinegar
  • Humidifiers 

Whether you want to steam in the shower or sit at your table and inhale it, breathing in hot steam helps to clear the passages by moistening and breaking up mucus. “I typically boil a pot of water, put in lemon and oranges and sometimes add a little mint oil and rest my head over the steam,” said Jetaun Carpenter. “This is what gets me through allergy season.” 

Honey 

A little honey a day, keeps the allergies away. Eating honey every day can improve your immunity to pollen. Many people use honey in their tea, but some eat it raw. This remedy can also be used on the go by packing honey in plastic bags or purchasing pre packaged. 

Cold compression 

Some allergy flare ups come with itchy eyes. Using a cold towel for compression can reduce irritation and inflammation. 

Clean home

Seems simple but maintaining a clean house can reduce the severity of allergies. Regularly dust bookcases, desks, fans, top of your headboard and other places where pollen hides. Changing your linen routinely is also very beneficial, as bacteria and allergens can build up. 

Taking care of the body

It all starts with a clean and stress-free body. Detoxing and avoiding foods that provide the body with little-to-no nutrients, like alcohol and fried foods, help improve your body’s ability to fight off allergies. Ensure that you are taking the proper vitamins like Vitamin C, along with apple cider vinegar, probiotics and turmeric.

These remedies will help for milder cases of allergies. If you experience difficulty relieving your allergies, try contacting your doctor or your local health foods store. 

SGA Town Hall: Visions of Graduation and a Safe Return in Fall 2021

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Picture Credit: Image of the Hampton University Student Center, where Town Hall is usually held every year. Image can be found on Hampton University’s website here

Hampton University’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual town hall meeting in late February. The event served as a forum for students to bring their concerns directly to administration. However this year, things were a little different. 

 To account for the ongoing pandemic, SGA’s town hall was held virtually through Zoom. Students submitted their concerns via an online submission platform and SGA asked the questions to members of the Hampton University administration, including but not limited to; President Dr. William R. Harvey, Dr. Barbara Inman, Dr. Karen Ward and other members of the Hampton University administration. 

Hosted by Austin Sams, SGA’s 75th President, the town hall presented an opportunity for the administration to reveal their plans for Hampton’s future. 

Most notably, Dr. Barbara Inman revealed that in-person instruction will be available beginning during both the upcoming summer 2021 and fall 2021 semesters, Hampton’s first on-campus semesters since the Spring of 2020. Factoring in lingering health concerns with COVID-19, it is required of Hampton students (unless medically contraindicated or in the case of religious exemption) to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus and uploading documentation of such. 

Included in this plan for on-campus living, the administration mentioned that they intend to implement a system towards maintaining fifty percent occupancy in classrooms. In this plan, students of a said classroom will be split into alternating days of in-person instruction and remote instruction within their dorms, creating a cycle in which; there is always one half of class in the classroom and the other half operating remotely. 

In addition to classroom operation changes, Hampton is planning on implementing living changes by reducing density in residence halls. Currently, it has been established that both single and double occupancy rooms will be made available for the Fall 2021 Semester. 

Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, also mentioned the procedural updates within the Health Center, with the inclusion of COVID testing that would be able to provide results “within 24 to 48 hours,” thus allowing for swift testing on campus to ensure maximum safety. 

With all the procedural changes that Hampton University is implementing for the return of the student body, the question remains to be asked: what of the Spring 2021 graduates?

As announced by the Hampton administration, the University intends to hold virtual graduation not only for Spring 2021 graduates but Spring 2020 graduates as well, given that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a proper Spring 2020 graduation from occurring. 

While details regarding the specifics of the virtual ceremony have yet to be revealed, the decision has been met with quite a bit of disappointment from graduating seniors. 

“I feel saddened by the news of the virtual graduation. This is not at all what I imagined the end of my HU experience would be like. However, I am thankful that I’ll be with my family. I know that they will make the experience special even though it is virtual,” says Cassie Herring, a senior english major from Woodbridge, Virginia. 

As more information is released regarding graduation, the student body can only hope that the virtual ceremony manages to commemorate the achievement memorably, to make up for the fact that it is not in person. 

One thing remains clear nonetheless, Hampton University is making the strides to return to a new normal.

Hampton Alumna, Ariana Greene selected as TRESemme Future Stylish Fund Recipient

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Picture Credit: Ariana Greene

Last month, TRESemmé, an American hair care brand, awarded Hampton University’s own Ariana Greene a $10,000 scholarship to attend cosmetology school. Ariana Crofton, a recent 2020 HU graduate, currently owns her own business, Ariana’s Canvas, where she creates a myriad of unique hairstyles such as; box braids, faux locs and feed-in braids.

 The TRESemmé Future Stylish Fund scholarship Greene received was tailored specifically for Black women to break the systematic barriers surrounding African American women and their hair in the beauty industry. 

“There are many barriers that exist for future Black female stylists, but things are changing because those tough conversations are being had,” said TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund selection committee member Ursula Stephen in an interview with Essence. “And great opportunities like the TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund are helping to encourage some much-needed change.”

Before winning, Greene mentioned that she experienced a season of no’s. Then one of her peers from Hampton sent her the  TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund application during the summer of 2020. Crofton took a leap of faith and applied. Crofton even took out a loan for cosmetology school but soon canceled it once she got the news that she won the scholarship.

“This experience was perfectly tailored for me,” said Grenne. 

Greene started her hair journey as a child, doing her Bratz Doll’s hair, eventually learning how to do her own. While growing up, her hair journey was not easy due to the many of the bad experiences she had in hair salons. She wanted to change the reputation braiders have in the beauty industry by offering a therapeutic space for Black women to get their hair done, not only on Hampton’s campus but also in the DMV region where she resides. 

“I started on accident by doing box braids for my bigs,” Greene said. 

Once she did her “big’s” hair, word spread fast, and she soon became Hampton’s go-to hairstylist. 

“It didn’t feel like I was the go-to hairstylist, but people created their own hype, and that helped,” she explained. 

With her fast-growing business and popularity on campus, Greene realized that doing hair and managing schoolwork can be difficult. Along with balancing Ariana’s Canvas and school, she realized she had to set boundaries with friends and family. 

“I didn’t have time for fun and often, could only work and go to class,” she shared. 

Although she lost a lot of free time, Greene gained many meaningful relationships from doing hair on campus. Through her business, she also learned how to pay taxes and budget. Regardless of having a few struggles, she realized she couldn’t focus on the approval of other people.

Greene advises everyone who is looking to start their own business to not over plan. She shared that she started her business in 2014 on YouTube as a DIY art channel. Later on, she began Ariana’s Canvas due to the need for Black braiders on campus who understand how to take care of natural hair. 

She also advises future business owners to start a business relating to their passions and look to their friend group for support.

“If they’re good friends, they’ll support you, but build your own community,’ she advises.  

Greene is currently attending cosmetology school at Aspen Beauty School and is working on becoming more creative with her work. She plans to one day bridge the gap between companies and campus stylists, as well as grow her hair business.

“I want to go international and talk to other aspiring stylists,” Greene shared. 

Ariana Greene is currently located in the DMV, and anybody interested in booking an appointment can do so through the link located in her Instagram bio @arianascanvas. To learn more about her TRESemmé Future Stylists Fund opportunity, follow Ariana on Instagram @anaira_99.

Picture Credit: Ariana Crofton

A Photo is Worth A Thousand Words

Kennedy P. Buck | Staff Writer

Margaret Wolfe Hungerford once said that, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Photographers do their absolute best to not only capture the best shot, but also capture the best possible message of the subject. Photographers rely on their lens to tell a story and hopefully the viewers can interpret it in the best way possible.

What happens when these photographers are no longer able to continue taking photos of the things that matter to them? When the country went on a worldwide lockdown, a lot of photographers no longer had access to spaces to produce concepts for photos and even lost access to shooting subjects due to new social distance regulations.

Three Hampton University students: Jordin Wright, Olivia Mitchell and Mikayla Roberts shared how they kept their passion alive within their own photography and what they hope people leave with after seeing their photos.

Q: Who or what has inspired you to keep pursuing photography even while this world is on a pause?

Jordin: “If I didn’t have the support from my friends and family, I would just be a girl with a dream. I can grow my business and my craft because of the support system around me. The few photographers in the Charlotte, NC area also push me to be better. I’m learning so much everyday and can’t wait to bring my photography to Hampton U.”

Q: What do you want people to leave with after seeing some of your work?

Mikayla: “I want my audience to see life without the fluff. I do my best to keep my photos as raw as possible because I believe that too much editing can create a euphoric sense of the subject, and although that is the goal for certain photo shoots, I generally try to stay away from that.”

Q: How have you kept your passion alive while in quarantine?

Olivia: “I continue to think of different photo shoots and some of them I have been able to execute while others are still in the works. I am in no rush to post them either, I’m just happy I can continue doing something I love. The encouragement from my peers from the HerCampus team also pushes me to stay active and to continue being active even if we are unable to be on campus. But one thing I always do is take photos on my phone. Anytime I am somewhere, whether it is a restaurant or an outing with my friends, I always snap a picture.”

Make sure to keep up with Jordin, Olivia, and Mikayla as they continue making their marks through their photos!

Jordin Wright is a Freshman Journalism major from Peekskill, NY.  @flap.photography

Mikayla Roberst is a Sophomore Journalism major, Sociology minor from Marietta, GA. @_m4media

Olivia Mitchell is a Junior Biology Pre-Med major from Bowie, Maryland. @livslenshu

Photo By: Jordin Wright         

Photo By: Olivia Mitchell

Photo of Mikayla Roberts

Highlighting Content Creators at Hampton University

 Brooklyn Young | Staff Writers

Hampton University has always been well-known for its trendsetters and innovators. Many Hamptonians still uphold that reputation by using their creativity to not only influence others but also create change in their communities.  Hamptonians have used their creativity to start their own brands and create impactful content. Some of your favorite YouTube vloggers, fashion designers and original magazine creators got their start at Hampton. Here is a glimpse of some entrepreneurs from Ogre, Quintessence and Onyx classes. 

Accent Films

Don’t forget the accent mark.

Accent Films started off as your typical college YouTube vlog in 2018. As time progressed, Bria Dickerson, better known as Bria DéShaun, has made her mark on Hampton’s campus by commemorating social moments as “the student body’s historian,” and creating promo videos. The meaning behind the accent is to “put emphasis on your purpose [and] put an accent on your wildest dreams,” said Dickerson. This brand allows the inner creative in Dickerson to be depicted visually and expose her authenticity in various projects. Accent Films is also a direct reflection of her journey as an individual and as an entrepreneur. 

“You can be carefree in who you are and do it without hesitation,” said Dickerson. 

Recently, Accent Films collaborated with the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Training Program (SLP) for its 20th anniversary of the Black History Extravaganza (BHX) by creating a short film, “Tales of an HBCU.” You can stream this on SLP’s YouTube channel now. 

Dickerson is a junior, journalism major with a minor in leadership studies and cinema studies from Bear, Delaware. 

COVRT 

With encouragement from friends and family, Trajan Baker, a sophomore architecture major from Winston-Salem, created his fashion brand Crafted Vision, which is now known as COVRT. At COVRT, you can have it your way with his unique clothing customizations. Baker hand paints jeans, jackets, shoes, hats and just about any clothing item you can think of. The brand is symbolic to self-discovery and revealing the artist within everyone.

 “My acronym for artist is a rare talented individual seeking truth,” said Baker. 

The relationship between Baker and his clientele are most meaningful and seeing them wear his designs makes him extremely proud. On average, it takes between 10 to 20 hours for Baker to make a single piece. Right now, COVRT is creating a graphic sweatshirt line and painting series. Baker is looking forward to where his brand will go and hoping to be a featured brand in a Hampton event like Springfest. Trajan Baker is a sophomore, architecture major from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

EPOK

Dictionary.com defines epoch (EPOK) as “the beginning of a distinctive period in history of something.” This Virginia and New York based brand began with two fashion-forward individuals making t-shirts in a bedroom in the Harbor Apartments for fun. Austin Johnson, a senior marketing major from Hampton, Virginia and Jarrett Dines, a senior strategic communications major from Queens, New York constantly strive to take chances and continue going after new avenues to gain even more exposure for their brand.

“Buying into a concept; you are in your Epok,” said Johnson. “Each piece is personal.”

 Opening doors and creating better access to resources for the next entrepreneur is the ultimate goal for Johnson and Dines. 

“Jarrett and I knew we were gonna make history, this is just the beginning,” said Johnson. 

Over the past two years, EPOK has had pop-up shops in New York and Virginia, countless photoshoots and has even shipped orders to London. For these entrepreneurs, they see no limits. 

For more information on their next event(s), an interactive pop-up shop and new releases, visit their website, https://epok.store/

Austin Johnson is a senior, marketing major from Hampton, Virginia. Jarrett Dines is a senior, strategic communications major from Queens, New York. 

Reign the Magazine

Editor-in-Chief and journalism student, Tasha Smith, a junior from Baltimore, launched the first issue of Reign the Magazine on January 1, 2021. The magazine was created to exhibit Black content, including fashion, beauty, culture and music. Smith’s goal is to create an enjoyable and inclusive atmosphere, where everyone involved feels comfortable showcasing their creativity. 

“I want to create a community that celebrates Black joy and creativity,” said Smith. 

Smith was inspired by lifestyle journalist Elaine Welteroth. 

“I have read her book ad nauseum,” Smith said. 

Since the Black youth is so impressionable, Smith mainly targets this demographic. 

“I am sick of feeling like I have to ‘skate around’ my Blackness for white people,” said Smith.  Knowing the importance of unapologetically loving and accepting your Blackness is the Magazine’s endgame. 

Currently, Reign the Magazine is working on the March issue, which is the first style issue, featuring a young stylist. A new issue drops on the first of each month, so be sure to get yours March 1!

Threadz Boutique

The reputation of inimitability and uniqueness that boutiques possess has always enticed Taylor Robertson, a third-year, five-year MBA major from Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.  That attraction and passion for fashion design created Threadz Boutique! Threadz Boutique seemed out of reach for Robertson, but with the encouragement from her mom, it became a brand. 

“I just got started,” said Robertson. 

Growing up with both parents being entrepreneurs, Robertson tapped into her entrepreneurial side. Robertson enjoys that she is able to deeply portray herself in her craft and offer rare clothing to women ages 17 to 40. 

“Everything that I have is something that I would pick up in a store and have to buy,” said Robertson. 

If you want to stand out and tap into your uniqueness, be on the lookout for new drops over at shopthreadzboutique.com

1868 The Brand

Fashionista, Inaya Henderson, a junior strategic communications major from Atlanta, decided to put a twist on traditional university paraphernalia by launching 1868 The Brand. Representing the year that Hampton University was founded, 1868 The Brand also looks to connect the Hampton University community through apparel and accessories.  

“It’s a line that encapsulates the essence of Hampton and transforms it into the form of fashion,” said Henderson. 

With 1868, Henderson intends to show the world that Hampton is more than what you see on the surface, but that Hampton is full of creativity and innovation.  

1868 is intended to be a classic everyday wear, whether you’re going on a Target run or on a trip, 1868 is made for it all. Currently, 1868 is working on rugs, household items, sweatsuits, workout gear, skateboards for each class and a potential collaboration with another HBCU. The newest drop is expected for summer 2021 to kick-off the summer vibes, so keep an eye out! 

For anyone scared to start their business, just look at these young entrepreneurs making it happen. It is all about believing in yourself and simply taking that first step!

Women’s History Month: Hampton Female Alumni Feature

Nia White | Staff Writer

As Hampton University has flourished for 153 years, it has helped to produce an extensive group of alumni. With graduates in a wide variety of fields and positions, Hampton University has made its impact on the surrounding community, country and world.

  The education at Hampton has allowed many alumni to advance in their field, because of the access to higher education. While many alumni have made progress in their specific field, now is a time to celebrate female alumni.  

The national observance of Women’s History Month is celebrated every year during the month of March. This month is reserved for highlighting the achievements of women making strides in their respective fields both in the present and past.  

A Hampton alumni who is flourishing in her career is Felicia Blow. She graduated in 1988 and is currently serving as Chair-Elect for the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). The position of Chair-Elect is one of the highest in the company and it incompeses many different roles.   

“PRSA is the world’s largest organization of communications, public relations, and strategic marketing practitioners,” Blow said. “I lead efforts with Strategic Planning and our National Leader Rally. I also work closely with other members of the executive team in carrying out the mission and vision for the organization. 2022 will mark the 75th anniversary of PRSA and in that regard, I am serving as Co-Chair of the Task Force to lead the anniversary efforts,” Blow said.

During her time at Hampton, Blow majored in Mass Media Arts, which led her to her current position. “Hampton instilled in me a pride of authorship, a determination of spirit, and the insight to never give up when pursuing your passion,” Blow said.

Another flourishing Hampton alumni is Dr. Helen Stiff-Williams, Class of 1973, former Division Chief and Superintendent of Instruction in the Virginia Department of Education. 

Her position required “experience in educational leadership,” Stiff-Williams said. As well as experience she received at Hampton, including “leadership experiences for recognition and expectations for high achievement.” 

Throughout her time as division chief and superintendent, she “provided leadership in the conceptualization of the “Virginia common core standards” that were the precursors to the current Virginia Standards of Learning,” Stiff-Williams said. 

  For current Hampton students, Blow also shares advice regarding how to be successful.

“Work hard, never shy away from something because it’s difficult. I was once told “What is easy is seldom excellent.” So don’t take the easy way out. Continue to learn…advance your knowledge…don’t stop learning, take classes, and improve your skills.” 

Glamour or scam? Teens’ use of substances in media

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

Chances are, if you watch any film or series today, you will see someone using some sort of controlled substance. Whether that be a group of friends comforted by a bottle of booze, smoking cigarettes, or puffing on some “Zaza,” these instances are almost impossible to miss. 

Partaking in substance abuse is justified with older crowds because these actions are understood as adult behaviors. After 21, a person surpasses legal thresholds and is considered grown enough to decide what they should or should not put into their body–illegal or not. 

However, the issue is not adults participating in adult activities on TV. It is the media portraying normalcy in substance abuse among minors.

One might argue that producers are trying to capture the verisimilitude of a high school student. A television show may highlight the reality of events that could potentially happen at a high school party, but are these instances a sample of truth or an extreme? 

In the award-winning HBO hit series “Euphoria,” the story centers on the life of a teenager struggling with a narcotics addiction as well as other teenage turmoil. Although the show reveals the horror and sadness of substance abuse, there is a sense of glamour weaved into the idea of underage drinking and drug use. Scenes of pill-popping are embellished with glitter, neon lights and music.

“Not going to lie, seeing people smoking weed, hearing the music create the vibe and feeling of relaxation made me more curious to try it,” Hampton University student Jamaija Rhoades said. “It looked cool, if I’m being honest.” 

Psychologist Birgit Wolz told the Chicago Tribune that “many films transmit ideas through emotion rather than intellect. … Watching movies can open doors that otherwise might stay closed.”

Substance use usually is painted with the idea of a stressor. An alcoholic beverage can be associated with relief or a lavish event. Marijuana can be associated with a way to unwind and bond with peers. Being compelled to try drugs or engage in drinking is more than seeing the act. It’s also about the aesthetic. 

“Production companies have a way of making it all look beautiful and acceptable while the actors are not even teens,” Hampton alumnus Tyler McColley said.

Media companies cast older actors and actresses to play younger roles because employing minors is a greater liability. Minors have restrictions with hours and content.

According to Screenrant, older actresses and actors ensure that “all potential romances be legal.”

So, it’s OK for an adult to play a teen and assimilate illegal behavior, although that reality is taboo?

That just seems misleading.

HBO said “Euphoria” is actually for adults despite the content circling around teens. Still, the show is viewed more by teenagers than adults. Not to mention, the actress who plays Rue, the main character of “Euphoria,” is Zendaya, who was once a Disney star building her fanbase at a young age.

“Euphoria” is one of many examples of this phenomenon of substance abuse portrayal. There are an abundance of contradictions in the media. One minute there is a commercial demeaning nicotine use among teens, and in the next instance, a hit show is making the act look cool.

An older woman, Natane Herrera, thinks that “the media appeals to a younger audience because they’re looking for potential buy-ins. … With people my age, there’s no point in trying to sell us.”

We’ll never honestly know the media’s intentions. Maybe it’s a subliminal act of business. Perhaps the media is trying to push an image, or maybe it’s just to entertain.

“The media knows what it is doing,” said Amanda Jones, a writer from Charlotte, North Carolina, “and it will target those susceptible to its narrative.” 

Let the Black kids escape too

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

It feels like all recent coming-of-age films such as (but not limited to) Booksmart, Love Simon, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess is a Loser all revolve around superficial and effortlessly watchable topics. The films tell stories of teenagers whose most significant problems revolve around their grades’ status and where the next hot party will take place.  

While I love a good coming-of-age film (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my personal fav), I cannot help but notice that Black teenagers are rarely the main characters within these stories. The few times individuals of African descent have starred in these films, they are either extremely heavy (Moonlight) or seek to make a statement about racism (The Hate U Give). 

This lack of carefree, innocent films that showcase Black teens simply falling in love or having fun without the interruption of discrimination or poverty is related to the popular association of  the Black experience and struggle. 

“I feel like parts of society only view Black people as people who will inevitably struggle through life — that we must face an obstacle, big or small, in our lifetime,” said Meraiah Cannon, a recent nursing graduate from Norfolk, Virginia. 

Of course, I am fully aware that anybody with melanated skin will face some hardships in some shape or form due to things they cannot change. However, I do not believe we need to be reminded of this all the time. 

Most people watch movies to escape their reality or just enjoy a couple of hours where they do not have to be reminded of their struggles in their day-to-day lives. Few people need to escape the realities of life more than people of color, particularly children, yet they rarely get the chance to do so. 

As important as it is to tell these heavy stories that are the realities of many Black people, Black creatives need to also ensure that they are creating films that highlight the innocence of Black teens and Black children as a whole. We often see children of African descent being forced to become adults and be strong in moments that other children are given the space to be vulnerable and make mistakes without extreme consequences. 

Despite what major production companies may believe, the Black community craves more films that showcase Black characters experiencing a sense of normalcy. 

“To see Black teens just getting to be kids and living out their best, normal teenage lives would be a dream come true. We need at least five of those movies within the next five years,” said Simone Williams, an HU graduate student from Newport News, Virginia.

Creating light-hearted coming-of-age films starring Black teens would not only be refreshing, but it would serve as a reminder to the world that despite the color of our skin, we are the same. 

Just as white teens crave love, a good time and adventure, Black teens do as well. Highlighting and emphasizing the reality that Black teens are also teens would assist those individuals who still believe that Black teens are less than. It would help them realize that we are human just as they are.