Zendaya Makes History for her Performance in HBO’s Euphoria

Anyae Johns- Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Invision, AP (AP20265171505843.jpg)

Zendaya, 24-year-old star of HBO’s “Euphoria”, won an Emmy at the 72nd Emmy Award show ceremony on Sept. 20th for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Written by Sam Levinson, “Euphoria” focuses on high-school students as they navigate love, sex, drugs, and more. Zendaya plays the role of Rue ~ a troubled teen fresh out of rehab struggling with her drug addiction, among other things. The show premiered on HBO in June of last year. 

Zendaya is the youngest to ever win this category, making history with her first nomination for an Emmy award. 

She is also the second Black woman to ever receive an Emmy in this category, after Viola Davis was awarded in 2015 for her lead performance in “How To Get Away With Murder”. 

Being that it took over 60 years for a Black woman to win this category is quite alarming and should be addressed. 72 years later, two phenomenal Black women have taken over this category and there needs to be more. 

“The talent is there. It always has been. I’m glad the world is waking up and giving credit where it’s due. I hope they continue to give awards based on performance and not ethnic group,” expressed Madison Williams, a Hampton University Communications Major from Dallas, Texas. 

Despite her award, critics and social media users claim that her historic achievement of being the second Black woman to win in this category is inaccurate due to her ethnicity. Zendaya is biracial; her father is African American and her mother is Caucasian.

Other critics disagreed with the award as a whole. A New York Post article titled: “Biggest upset: Zendaya wins Emmys 2020 over Jennifer Aniston, Laura Linney” stirred up a lot of opinions from Euphoria enthusiasts. 

Cameron Jones, Sophomore Theater Major from Detroit, Michigan explained that age has no say in awarding theatrical performance. 

“When it comes to acting it does not matter who has more “experience” its about who delivered their performance the best,” he said. 

Zendaya was over a decade younger than most of the actresses nominated in her category but her work speaks for itself. Her irrefutable performance as Rue definitely showcased her unique acting skills.

Many millennials have watched Zendaya blossom as a young Black actor. From her dancing days on Disney’s “Shake It Up”, to the moment she was seated around family and friends as Jimmy Fallon announced her victory. It was a very emotional moment for the star and she tried to find the words in her acceptance speech. 

 “This is a really weird time to be celebrating but I just want to say that there is hope in the young people out there.”

“I know our tv show doesn’t always feel like a great example of that but there is hope in young people. To my peers out there doing work in the streets, I see you, I admire you, I thank you,” she further explained. 

“Euphoria” was renewed for the highly anticipated second season on HBO but due to the pandemic, production has been delayed. Thankfully, HBO president Casey Bloys stated in an interview with Deadline that Euphoria will likely begin filming season two in “early 2021.” Many fans can expect a premiere date around the end of next year. 

In the meantime, you can expect to hear a release date for Zendaya’s latest project, “Malcolm and Maire”. Euphoria creator, Sam Levison, has shot and completed the entire film during quarantine. Not much is known about the plot but the film will star John David Washington and Zendaya as they navigate a rocky relationship. The film will premiere on Netflix. 

Javicia Leslie is the New Batwomen

Jamel Rogers- Staff Writer

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Javicia Leslie was born in Germany on May 30, 1987. Her family then moved to Maryland where she was raised in Upper Marlboro. Since then, she has become a proud alumna of Hampton University, acting in several productions such as “Seven Guitars”, “For Colored Girls”  and more. Her first ever movie role she played Samantha Morgan in “Killer Coach”, which became a hit thriller during its time. 

This year, Leslie landed the role of Batwoman for the second season of  “Batwoman” on CW’s channel. The leading actress Rubi Rose playing Kate, will be replaced by Javicia Leslie as Ryan. The show is set to return this coming January with new expectations and excitement for Leslie’s character. 

The show begins after Batman’s disappearance from the city of Gotham. Batman’s cousin, Kate, continues to soar in the streets of Gotham, reliving the legacy of a dark knight vigilante as Batwoman. This year Javicia Leslie will be playing Ryan Wilder on the show. This role may bring on a lot of controversy which also is great publicity for her to gain more roles in the near future. The controversy could range from comic similarities in characters to adjusting to a new superhero in the show. 

This is inspiring to minorities especially aspiring actors and actresses wanting to expand their horizons. With Leslie being a Hampton grad, it also helps the reputation of our great Home by the Sea. 

Recently, Leslie welcomed Hampton’s incoming freshman class for the remaining school year, giving Onyx 12 some great advice.

“Hampton has an amazing drama program and some amazing connects that have graduated already that can put you in the right places and the right doors, so make sure you network,” she explained. 

 The elevation in this television role has been phenomenal to women all over the world. It is taking up a lot of the media directed toward past experiences starting with “Black Panther”. “Black Panther” and “Batwomen” can be considered the first black lead superhero films/shows. It also shows a change in media development as they would cast more minorities into prestigious roles. She’s also helping out the LGBT community due to her lead acting achievements. 

“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said in a statement. 

According to E News, Javicia Leslie is getting along well with some of her castmates as they began shooting. Leslie recently informed everyone about her upcoming role through social media, getting the attention of DC Comics enthusiasts all over the world. 

“You all have been a huge support on this journey!!! So, this isn’t my Batwoman, this is OUR Batwoman,” she said in the announcement post on Instagram. 

She is a great representation for minorities wanting to take the next big steps in the movie industry and we can expect there to be a great incline in the number of actresses in each generation.

Christina Buie, Hampton Sociology major from Maryland said, “I think it’s great, especially for Hampton women! There are a few notable Hampton alumnae in the 21st century and I think she is a great catalyst for Hampton students and seeing more people on TV who look like me.”

 Javicia Leslie is also one of many to show accomplishments for black women. Historically, most superheroes have been predominantly white and minorities were usually sidekicks or extras. Her success in the role would motivate young black women to strive for greatness. The effect she has on society will lie within her legacy as an actress. 

Make sure to be on the lookout for updates on the show’s production, set to premiere January of 2021.

A look at women’s creation and expression

Noah Hogan- Staff Writer

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in mid-September has left a hole in many hearts.

 Her name is synonymous with women’s rights, equality and LGTBQ+ initiatives. She was one of the most recognizable faces of today’s time. Playfully being dubbed “The Notorious RBG”, Ginsburg carried a powerful moniker named after hip hop’s own, the late Christopher Wallace “The Notorious BIG.”

She left behind a legacy of determination, hard work and fortitude. That same legacy opened the door for women in a plethora of social areas to fully express themselves in ways that were never imaginable before.

  The genre of hip hop has been a creative space that has been historically dominated by men. These artists often portray women with sexist lyrics and videos that objectify women’s bodies. In contrast, several women have defied the odds and rose to the pinnacle of success within the genre, such as Queen Latifah, Salt and Pepa, M.C. Lyte and Nicki Minaj.

These women promoted cultural expression, racial pride, safe sex and life from their various perspectives. The words they spoke, the clothing they wore and the messages in their lyrics defined who they were.

These legends have opened the doors for new talent such as Cardi B., Saweetie and Meg the Stallion. The ladies of the new school seem to have one thing in common – their vivid expression of sexuality.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The artistic expression and freedom of women in the hip hop industry of today has been stifled and manipulated. No longer do we hear records like  Queen Latifah ‘s “U.N.I.T.Y”, Salt and Pepa’s “Express Yourself” and M.C. Lyte’s “Keep on Keeping On”. We are now subjected to songs like Cardi and Meg’s “W.A.P.” and  Sweetie’s “Tap In”.

The songs that have strong sexual content by female artists seem to be the only music that receives attention from mainline media sources. With “WAP” and “Tap In” amassing over 75 million streams and 25 million views on YouTube, respectively. It’s clear that a shift in the industry has taken place, validating that women are now able to express themselves in ways that were considered controversial in the past.

 “I don’t believe that currently the way females express themselves throughout the music industry in today’s society is being marginalized just due to the fact that we see more women rappers out there like Megan Thee Stallion put out very prominent music to where so many people are willing to now listen to female rappers.”, said Carrigan Smith, Hampton University Broadcast Communications major from Dallas, Texas. 

The argument that is now in question is, “If a man can do it, why not a woman too?”

Is this the same sexual equality that was fought for decades ago? Meanwhile, as the creative space for women expands ever so rapidly, we’re left to question when a new female act emerges in the genre, will they be regulated to the age old industry standard or will they be afforded a legit chance to succeed in the unforgiving culture that is Hip Hop?

Gone are the days where industry executives that would rather an artist develop a style in which they tailor their image to cater to the sexual fantasy of support base over prioritizing a quality listening experience.

The Notorious RBG fought for gender equality, which has transcended into every area of society today. Although taboo for some, it goes without saying that women should have the right to express their music and most importantly themselves without restraint or strife within spaces that are comfortable for them. 

The Photograph: Not a love story – a like story

Alton Worley II | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Pexels User Brett Sayles

It’s been a while since audiences have seen a black romance movie, and The Photograph provides a breath of fresh air, but not in the way you would think.

The official synopsis: “On Valentine’s Day, Issa Rae (HBO’s Insecure, Little) and LaKeith Stanfield (FX’s Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) connect in a romance where a woman must learn from the secrets in her mother’s past if she is to move forward and allow herself to love and be loved. 

When famed photographer Christina Eames unexpectedly dies, she leaves her estranged daughter Mae Morton (Rae) hurt, angry and full of questions. When a photograph tucked away in a safe-deposit box is found, Mae finds herself on a journey delving into her mother’s early life and ignites a powerful, unexpected romance with a rising-star journalist, Michael Block (Stanfield).”

The Photograph takes a modern approach to the romantic movie genre and does something that has become rare nowadays. In a world now full of romantic comedies, The Photograph manages to stay solidified in the romance category only having hints of comedy in it. 

The only way this movie works is because the leads do a good job portraying the roles that they were given. Rae and Stanfield’s chemistry and acting keep this movie afloat when the writing does not, but in terms of realism, the writers did a good job keeping it real when it comes to their character’s relationship. 

“I had major hopes for what this [movie] could have been or what I expected it to be, but it didn’t make me feel the way I thought it would,” said Savannah Henson, a Hampton University psychology major from Prince George’s County, Maryland. “The storyline was just cute, and the impression and feelings I had left after seeing the film weren’t long-lasting. I don’t know … I expected more, and it was just ‘Eh.’” 

“Cute” would be the best way to describe this movie, as it isn’t anything extraordinary, but ordinary enough to keep the audience entertained, if that. While the stars play their characters well, their timid personalities often leave the audience wanting more.

“Personally, I didn’t like The Photograph,” said Myana Mabry, an HU political science major on the pre-law track. “I felt as if it was fast-paced, predictable and a bit awkward. I strongly believe the main characters didn’t actually love each other – rather, this film was based on lust. I left the theater disappointed.” 

There were no big gestures or reveals that made the movie scream “romance,” so the power was in the body language with some credit given to the dialogue. The characters weren’t perfect, and in reality, no one actually is, so seeing them go through things very relatable to the audience was nice, but also lackluster as the movie was missing something. 

“I felt that the movie was a nice break from the drama that usually occurs in black films about love,” said Jasmine Robinson, an HU strategic communication major from North Carolina. “No one was dramatically shot as well as other stereotypes associated with black love films.” 

This movie should keep the audience entertained, but it doesn’t. In a society where every movie is trying to be bigger than the next, this movie tries something different by not trying at all. This movie lacked the drive and heart-wrenching emotion that many other movies in its genre have, and that’s why it missed the mark it needed to hit.

The Photograph is now playing in Hampton theaters at the AMC Hampton Towne Center 24, Cinema Café and Studio Movie Grill.

Gayle King “was doing her job” in asking about Kobe Bryant’s past, journalists say

Andi McCloud | Staff Writer

Gayle King was being a responsible journalist for CBS when she asked about a past felony sexual assault charge against former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, several journalists agree.

“I just feel like she was doing her job,” Hampton University journalism major Marcus Nelson said, adding, “If you aren’t in her field of work, you just might not understand that.” 

Snoop Dogg issued a warning to King online after her “CBS This Morning” interview with former WNBA player Lisa Leslie about Bryant, who was killed Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others.

The Associated Press reported that other celebrities, including LeBron James, 50 Cent and Bill Cosby, criticized King for asking Leslie whether Bryant’s legacy had been complicated by the accusation that he raped a woman at a Colorado resort in 2003. Bryant said the two had consensual sex, but he later apologized for his behavior and, after the charge was dropped when the accuser was unwilling to testify, settled a civil suit against him.

Snoop Dogg later posted an apology video after he was criticized for his extreme response.

Oprah Winfrey — King’s best friend — held back tears as she spoke on NBC’s “Today” show about death threats King received.

“We fully support Gayle King and her integrity as a journalist,” CBS News President Susan Zirinsky told the AP. “We find the threats against her or any journalist doing their job reprehensible.”

The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and other media organizations included articles about the assault charge in their news coverage immediately following his death.

King took to Instagram to speak about how a portion of her interview with Leslie was disseminated. 

“I am embarrassed,” King wrote. “And I am very angry. Unbeknownst to me, my network put up a clip from a very wide-ranging interview, totally taken out of context, and when you see it that way, it’s very jarring. It’s jarring to me. I didn’t even know anything about it.”

Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones said King was in the right to ask the questions she asked.

“King had nothing to apologize for,” Jones wrote on Poynter.org. “She is a journalist and asked questions any responsible journalist would.”

During the CBS interview with Leslie, King said: “It’s been said that his legacy is complicated because of a sexual assault charge, which was dismissed in 2003, 2004. Is it complicated for you as a woman, as a WNBA player?”

Leslie responded: “It’s not complicated for me at all. Even if there are a few times that we’ve been at a club at the same time, Kobe’s not the kind of guy — never been, like, you know, ‘Lis, go get that girl, or tell her or send her this.’ I have other NBA friends that are like that.”

King continued to question Leslie about whether or not she would have known the truth about Bryant’s alleged rape, and Leslie defended Bryant to be “never like that. I just never, have ever seen him being the kind of person that would do something to violate a woman or be aggressive in that way.”

King talked to Leslie because the former Los Angeles Sparks star was one of Bryant’s good friends. 

“If you are a serious journalist, you cannot avoid the painful questions and topics,” Alfred Edmond Jr. wrote on Blackenterprise.com. “King’s interview with Lisa Leslie was about Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy; a good journalist knows you can’t just leave out the parts we don’t like.”

Commentary: Oscars are still so white

Anisa Saigo | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Denise Jans

The Oscars have been the highlight of almost every actor’s dream for more than 90 years. The glitz, the glamour and the expenses that these amazing actors and actresses go above and beyond for don’t go unnoticed on the most famous red carpet ever.

What does go unnoticed, however, is the lack of appreciation for black actors.

You would think by 2020, things would be different, but it is no different than 80 years ago, when Hattie McDaniel became the first black actor to win an Academy Award. Even then, McDaniel had to sit at a segregated table that was not with the cast of “Gone with the Wind.” On top of that, keep in mind that the Academy Awards was hosted in a “no Blacks” hotel.

Five years ago, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite was created and surged to popularity to recognize black people and those of other races not being acknowledged for their hard work in film.

Five years later, the Academy membership still is made up, predominantly, of white males. According to Variety.com, the membership is 84% white males and 68% male. When you have people who can’t relate to movies such as “Queen and Slim” and “Harriet,” it can be quite hard for them to have an opinion.

“Harriet” star Cynthia Erivo was the only black actor to receive an Oscar nomination for the Feb. 9 ceremony.

“I’m so tired of it,” Ava DuVernay, who is black and was the director of “Selma,” told USA Today. “We care about [winning an Oscar] because it’s a mark of distinction around the world. … It’s not the end-all, be-all; it’s not the arbiter of good taste or achievement. It’s a lovely thing that’s a cherry on top of the work.”

In 92 years, only 17 black actors have won an Oscar. Several of those awards have been given for roles that display stereotypes about black people such as Lupita Nyong’o as a slave in “12 Years a Slave” and “Octavia Spencer” as a maid in “The Help.”

This is why award shows such as the BET Awards have been created to highlight black achievements and appreciation for black culture. 

It is easy to view a film and have an opinion on the way it was directed, the way the actors act, and so on, but when a judgment is made before actually viewing a film starring black actors, it’s hard to believe it’s the best judgment.

Jay Electronica tweets that his debut album is finished

Barry Jones | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Flickr User Joshua Mellin

Jay Electronica, one of hip-hop’s biggest mysteries, has finally tweeted that, after a decade, he has finished his debut album.

Electronica got his start in 2009 with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. He immediately got to work with some of the industry’s biggest producers such as Young Guru and Just Blaze.

In December 2009, Jay Electronica released one of hip-hop’s most revered records to date: Exhibit C.

Exhibit C, produced by Just Blaze, caught major attention worldwide. To say Jay Electronica had an amazing introduction is an understatement. Exhibit C landed Electronica in the “all-time” conversation by various critics. New Music Express called Exhibit C “the most accomplished piece of ‘conscious rap’ this millennium.”

Yet, after such a strong first showing. Jay Electronica went all but missing on the music scene, with only a few guest verses over the next 10 years, such as Big Sean’s Control, Jay-Z’s Shiny Suit Theory and his record Better in Tune with the Infinite. 

Until now.

Jay Electronica on Feb. 7 tweeted, “Album Done,” and followed up with another tweet: “…my debut album featuring Hov man this is highway robbery.”

Immediately following this tweet, many media outlets and media personalities took to Instagram to share the news. Elliot Wilson, the host of the Rap Radar Podcast on Tidal, posted a screenshot of the tweet to his page. The comments flooded with comments like “yeah right” or “he’s gotta be joking.” However, Young Guru, the lead in-house sound engineer for Roc Nation, quoted the tweet, saying: “Facts!!!!!!! This is not a drill.”

The news caused quite a rumble in the hip-hop community. The community was not only shocked by the fact that Jay Electronica stated that the album is finished, but also the fact that he insinuated that it is a collaboration album with Jay-Z. This in itself caused quite the controversy. Mal Clay, co-host of the Joe Budden Podcast and brother of Roc-a-Fella/Roc Nation Co-founder Kareem “Biggs” Burke, stated on Episode 321 that “they [Jay Z and Electronica] have a lot of records together on the album, so it’s looking like it might be a Watch the Throne type of thing or something in that vein.”

Joe Budden himself did not take favorably to the idea of Electronica’s first album being a collaboration with Jay-Z, saying, “For Jay Elec to come out and rap one song and be pitted with the elite and then never rap again and then come out with an album 10-11 years later with Hov?”

The idea does seem a bit farfetched and straight up unfair. However, the skill that Jay Electronica has shown through his very limited catalog gives hip-hop fans something to dream about when it comes to a potential debut album from Electronica with Hov.

The same issue that plagued Andre 3000’s career, the lack of a solo album, has seemed to come to an end for Jay Electronica. We will see if he comes through with his word. If so, this is lining up to be one of the most anticipated hip hop album releases over the last two decades.

According to a Jay Electronica tweet, the album is “Releasing 40 days” from Feb. 7. That creates an expected release date around March 18. 

Neptunes and Outkast among 2020 nominees for Songwriters’ Hall of Fame

Barry Jones | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Flickr User The DePaulia

In the eyes of the public, songwriting is one of the more underrated aspects of a musician’s overall talent. However, every year, the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame recognizes some of the best songwriters to ever contribute to the music industry.

The 2020 list of nominees is full of familiar names such as The Neptunes, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Outkast and Journey. According to the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame website, “A songwriter with a notable catalog of songs qualifies for induction 20 years after the first commercial release of a song.” 

“Every year, the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame recognizes some of the best songwriters to ever contribute to the music industry.”

Many of these acts, specifically the Neptunes, Outkast and The Isley Brothers, are known for their own amazing catalog but are not often recognized for the records on which they have written. As a way to understand the versatility and pure talent of this year’s nominees, let us take a look at the records they have contributed to in the realm of songwriting.

The Neptunes: Though they are most famously known for being responsible for their long stint in hip-hop, pop and R&B production, the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo) have written an incredible amount of popular hit records. Those include Frank Ocean’s “Sweet Life” (2012), Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” (2005) and Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” (2002).

The Isley Brothers: The Isley Brothers are one of the most prolific groups to come out of the 1970s. Their catalog ranges over five decades. Their most famous member, Ronald Isley, has not only written a majority of their own catalog but has also written for some of music’s biggest stars. These include: Whitney Houston’s “One of Those Days” (2002), Salt-N-Pepa’s “Shake your Thang” (1988) and Naughty by Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray” (1992). Some of their own biggest hits include: “Footsteps pt. 1 & 2,” “Choosey Lover” and “Between the Sheets.”

Outkast: Another group that is known for its prolific hip-hop catalog, Outkast has secretly accumulated songwriting credits ever since its beginning. Both Big Boi and Andre 3000 wrote on Beyonce’s “All Night” single off her 2016 album “Lemonade.” They have also written on J. Cole’s 2010 single “Who Dat.” 

In addition to these writing credits, Outkast remains as one of the most sampled hip-hop groups of all time, so a majority of their writing credits come from other artists paying homage to Outkast’s original lines or song titles.

The 2020 class of nominees for the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame is one of the more talented classes of late as it relates to hip-hop, R&B and funk/soul talents. The winners will be inducted June 11.

Comme des Garçons accused of cultural appropriation following debut of 2020 menswear line

Andi Mccloud | Staff Writer

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Photo Credit: Unsplash User Alin Surdu

The runway featured mostly white models in braided cornrow wigs. There were black models who wore wigs and some who kept their natural hair. Critics quickly took to social media to point out the “offensive” look.

Diet Prada, an Instagram page that notoriously calls out major fashion brands and designers, was one of the first to comment on the alleged cultural appropriation, citing that the models appeared to be embarrassed. 

“The look on the models’ faces says it all,” Diet Prada wrote to its 1.7 million followers.

Social media fashion critic Aja Barber wrote on Twitter: “Too busy laughing to be offended. This is a mess.”

Model Adwoa Aboah commented: “Are we surprised?”

As the backlash increased, Julien d’Ys, the stylist behind the wigs, posted an apology via Instagram.

“My inspiration for the Comme des Garçons show was Egyptian prince a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational,” Julien d’Ys wrote. “A look that was an homage. Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did, I deeply apologize.”

Along with his apology, he shared sketches that referenced his inspiration of King Pharaoh’s hair, to which his followers responded by asking why he did not use Egyptian models.

Although the brand is quite popular among celebrities and recognized by other high-profile entities, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this is not the first time they have been accused of lacking in proper African American representation. According to ELLE, in 2018, the brand was accused of not using black models in more than 20 years.

Over the past few years, high fashion brands have been repeatedly accused of cultural appropriation and racism. The blackface controversy with Gucci and H&M’s frequent questionable depiction of black children are the most recently scrutinized. Dolce & Gabbana was just accused of racism and cultural insensitivity due to a recent promotion featuring a Chinese woman struggling to eat pizza and spaghetti with chopsticks. In 2019, Dior faced a backlash from a fragrance that was promoted as “an authentic journey deep into the Native American Soul.”

Although there is no denying these brands could improve on their choices regarding how they implement diversity in their campaigns, “maybe it’s not appropriation as much as it is appreciation,” Hampton University freshman Derek Meza said.

Amid Black History Month, the trend of biting off of African culture seems untimely. However, in the grand scheme of things, who gets to decide if imitation is the most sincere form of flattery or disrespectful?

While in some senses there is a push to be integrated, rather than a segregated society, problems seem to arise when efforts are made to mix certain aspects of our cultures. Instead of calling out one culture for appropriating another, it could be more progressive to acknowledge it as sincere appreciation.

Are diversity and inclusion becoming normalized or are they trends?

Carlie Beard | Arts and Entertainment Editor

The words diversity and inclusion are often used in just about everything seen on a daily basis.

Being inclusive seems to be the main focus of top companies. New roles such as Diversity and Inclusion leaders are being implemented to ensure that there are more diverse workplace environments. However, does having these roles really create a space for people of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds?

In media, ad campaigns have noticeably taken steps to showcase multicultural people. Some even reference this as “Inclusive Marketing.” However, being inclusive is not only showing people with different skin color or features, but it is also about featuring things such as people with different genders, disabilities and ages.

In 2017, sportswear leader Nike presented an ad campaign titled “Equality.” This ad showcased major athletes such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant and promoted equality on and off the court. Colin Kaepernick also was featured in an ad campaign following his controversial protest by kneeling during the national anthem at an NFL game in 2016. Nike faced tons of backlash for standing by Kaepernick. In return, Nike saw an increase in revenue by 31 percent, according to Time.com.

Whether the campaign is successful or a complete failure, companies face a huge risk when it comes to taking on a certain issue.

However, not all companies have been as successful as Nike when it comes to inclusive marketing. Pepsi featured an ad with supermodel Kendall Jenner in 2017 that caused huge controversy. Jenner was in the middle of a protest, and she was seen offering protesters Pepsi cans and also offered the police officers one as well. Some thought this ad was extremely insensitive, especially during the intense era of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In regards to the fashion industry, diversity and inclusion seem to be a huge “trend,” from plus-size models gracing front covers to more multicultural models beginning placed on billboards. Seeing people from different backgrounds is important and is needed to create a more diverse world. So, it’s great that companies work to bring diversity to the fashion industry because it hasn’t always been that way.

Beverly Ann Johnson was the first black woman to be on the cover of Vogue in 1974. Since then, there have been other trailblazing black models such as Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks who have paved the way for other models of color.

However, fashion has a way of loving the culture of different races but won’t feature the culture’s people in their fashion shows or ad campaigns. In 2019, several fashion houses were criticized for their lack of diversity or insensitive choice of the way their clothing was designed.

The major fashion house Gucci faced backlash for creating a sweater that resembled blackface. Toward the end of 2019, Gucci created a scholarship called the Gucci Changemakers Scholarship which was dedicated to funding college students of color and providing money to nonprofits.

Unfortunately, a question must be asked: Is diversity being normalized or is it to meet a consumer’s needs in order to stay a top competitor in the market?