Good Girls take Hampton: The birth of a new movement

Vashti Dorman | Staff Writer

Unsplash user Jessica Felicio

In an effort to unify and empower women, The Good Girl Movement was born. Arriving on Hampton University’s campus in 2020, the movement is dedicated to redefining what it means to be genuinely and unapologetically good. 

During the week of February 14, Good Girls Hampton hosted a wide range of events celebrating women and putting spotlights on various Black businesses. 

To kick off the week, the Good Girls Movement along with Dr. Empath, an empathic psychologist focused on healing the mind, body and soul, led an event on spirituality and how to attract your desired love. The session delved into different types of spiritual connections and how to differentiate the good 

On day two of Good Girl Week, HU student Janice Jallah led “Girls Need Love Too,” a dance class on Instagram live. Celebrating various body types and doing choreography that was easy for everybody allowed participants to relax and have fun. 

A virtual Black business seminar took place on day three. The event consisted of 6 business owners and panelists including; Danielle Boateng of Dbandz Luxe, Alexis Scott of the Bad Girl Network, Ashanti Johnson of Strength of a Broken Women and Spiced by Shanti, Ayana Iman; Fashion Influencer, Dayvondria Braxton of Von Capri and Sienna Nelson of White Lephant.

During this event, panelists were able to give their insight and advice on creating a successful business as a Black woman, while also giving the do’s and don’ts of starting a business. 

Keeping the week going, Good Girls held a service initiative event hosted via Zoom, where participants were able to write love letters to incarcerated women. During the event, participants learned statistics about women in prison, including that women account for 7% of the population in state and federal prisons. 

Ending the week off, Good Girl’s member, Sage, gave numerous tips on maintaining physical health, including maintaining a good sleep schedule, a healthy diet and exercising. She went into detail on how to maintain emotional health through therapy and to evaluate the people we allow into our lives. She also shared tips from her personal experience on developing techniques to stay healthy in all facets of life, from keeping a clean room to reading the bible every day. 

To conclude the week, the Good Girls Movement won “Best New Organization” at the Student Organizational Bazaar for the 2020-2021 academic school year. 

Keep up with the Good Girls of Hampton on Instagram @goodgirlstake_hampton and @thegoodgirlmovement.

Madani Dembele wins Mr. Ivy Pageant

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

Courtesy of Madani Dembele

Premiering on YouTube on Feb. 19, Hampton University was able to host yet another successful virtual pageant thanks to the Gamma Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Madani Dembele, was chosen to become the next Mr. Ivy.

Dembele, a graduating senior strategic communication student, expressed his excitement after finding out that he had achieved his dream of winning the Mr. Ivy Pageant. 

“I was ecstatic,” said Dembele. “I was really happy my hard work paid off.”

Anticipating the pageant since junior year, Dembele’s opportunity to participate was ripped away when the pageant was canceled due to COVID-19. When he saw the opportunity to join again this year, he was admittedly hesitant to take the chance. 

“The pageant came around a few weeks ago this semester. A couple of my friends said I should do it again. I said ‘Nah.’ I was a little bit hesitant,” said Dembele. “I didn’t send my application in until the day of, but I said ‘Hey, I’m gonna do this.’ It was just a matter of time because this has been one of my goals for a long while.”

Despite the pageant being virtual, it still left a huge impact on Dembele, allowing him to step out of his comfort zone. 

“It allowed me to bring everything that I’ve been working on to light. For example, for my talent, I did rap, but I’ve been writing raps here and there for a few months now,” he said. “It’s sort of like a hobby for me, but the pageant allowed me to go into full production mode.” 

Dembele said that with the help of a friend who studies film, the video was shot, and he was able to put everything together. He wanted to bring three things together for his talent performance: Black History Month, the Gamma Theta Chapter and his platform, “Rising Above the Ashes.”

With the pageant being virtual, Dembele found the experience interesting in how he had to plan for a video.

“It was kind of complicated. I had to make sure certain things would sound good through all outlets since everyone is watching through different devices,” he explained. “I just wanted to make sure it was cohesive and that everyone would have the same experience watching what I put out there.”

Dembele expressed that virtual pageants allowed contestants to have more creative control than in-person pageants. He saw the ability to control things as an advantage.

“In a virtual pageant, you have a lot more creative control, and you can correct or fix things that you don’t want to showcase. As opposed to an in-person pageant, you don’t get that opportunity to go back and edit what you just did on stage. It’s irreversible.” said Dembele. 

His platform, “Rising Above the Ashes,” is a program targeted at African American youth, promoting mentorship and overall wellness. Dembele believes that the youth are the future, and thinks his platform will help them see that.

“I do believe that the youth are our future, and I think that they can be damaged which prevents them from living to their fullest potential. It can be hard to see the brighter things in life when all you’ve been seeing is darkness,” he expressed.

Dembele says the main takeaway of his platform that he wants African American youth to know, is that they are enough and are deserving of more than they think.

Madani Dembele plans to accept a job offer at AT&T for their BRB Sales Development program after graduating in May of this year. 

Hampton’s Very Own: Spotlighting Student Entrepreneurs

Angela Session | Staff Writer

Courtesy of Joy Coates

During the summer of 2020, there was a call to support Black owned businesses in response to the re-awakening of social injustice around the country. Since then, many consumers have been trying to become more conscious about who owns the companies and products they spend their money on. 

Hampton University is home to many innovative student entrepreneurs. In honor of Black History Month, here are two HU students making an impact through their entrepreneurial efforts.

Ju’s Mobile Auto Care

Julian McDaniel is a second-year graduate student majoring in community mental health counseling. He received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T in 2016 with a B.A. in liberal studies with a concentration in race, class and culture. McDaniel is a native of Charlotte, NC, and is the proud owner of Ju’s Mobile Auto Care.

Ju’s Mobile Auto Care was created because McDaniel realized that he has skills that other people didn’t have. Due to his passion for helping others, he thought it would be a good idea to start a business that offers automobile services.

As a child, Julian had a keen interest in cars, so it was only natural for him to continue to expand his knowledge of them. He worked on his car while at NC A&T, and worked for Discount Tire for some time where he learned to mount, balance, and rotate tires. After graduation, he worked at O’Reilly’s Distribution Center before moving to Hampton. Even though he wasn’t working on cars there, he would get discounted parts to work on cars at his leisure.

 In 2019, McDaniel moved to Hampton and got a job at Jiffy Lube where he learned most of what he knows today. 

Recently, he quit and started his business to help other Hampton students with their car repairs at affordable prices. As a member of the HU Marching Force, McDaniel was able to spread the word to fellow band members and in student group chats. 

At the moment, McDaniel is focusing on creating more exposure since his business is fairly new.

Advice he would give to other aspiring business owners is, “to do what you have a passion for and make a side hustle that can bring in extra cash.”

 “Stay focused, keep an open mind, and work hard as you will get what you put in,” said McDaniel.

WaistHisTime

Joy Coates is a third-year kinesiology major from Montgomery County, MD. Her business is WaistHisTime, a holistic business that is centered around improving the confidence of women. 

Coates’ mother kickstarted the business by traveling to Ghana and bringing back waist beads. For Joy, waist beads are a part of her Cameroonian culture. With that in mind, she started WaistHisTime because she knew that making traditionally crafted waisted beads available would serve as an enhancement to women’s beauty and confidence. 

She was initially able to spread the word through her friends, and eventually began posting flyers, sales and products. Her friends would also tell others where they got their beads from. She also began creating more social media content for her audience. 

Coates plans to rebrand WaistHisTime into Tyme, a unisex athletic clothing line. She says this is something she wanted to start since freshman year and she knew she had it in her, the idea just needed to be unlocked. 

Her advice to aspiring business owners is that they must get to know themselves first. 

 “You are your only competition,” said Coates. “Take time away to get to know yourself, because having a business requires a strong mindset and the vulnerability to accept failure.” 

To learn more about Joy and WaistHisTime, follow her on Instagram @waisthistime. To learn more about Julian and Ju’s Mobile Auto Care, follow him on Instagram @757_mobile_auto_care.

Courtesy of Julian McDaniel

Judas and The Black Messiah Cast Stress The Importance of Amplifying Black Voices In New Film

Raven Harper|Campus Editor

photo credit: Glen Wilson

As we honor and remember Black stories and voices of the past this month, we must acknowledge the Black filmmakers and storytellers of today who allow us to relive these moments of history by bringing them to life on screen. 

This month, Shaka King, director of the new, highly-anticipated Warner Bros film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” shares the untold story of the Illinois Black Panther Party leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), who was betrayed by FBI informant, William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) and assassinated at 21, by Chicago Police.

In an exclusive Warner Bros. screening on Feb.4, Hampton University students were given the opportunity to view the film before its release on Feb.12 in theaters. 

During a virtual summit, hosted by Multimedia Journalist, Gia Peppers, the cast, as well as those responsible for bringing the film together, were able to provide insight and a behind the scenes look into the making of “Judas and the Black Messiah.” 

Releasing at such an appropriate time for our country, JATBM director, King, hopes the film sparks something in the eyes of viewers, and allows them to see who the Black Panther Party really was. 

“I think it is an opportunity to explore this country’s past and present of crushing voices of descent,” King shared. “To quail efforts by citizens to change, that actually leads to these ideals that America puts forth of life, liberty and happiness, which ultimately that’s really all the Black Panthers were.”

To delve deeper into Fred Hampton’s legacy, moderator Baratunde Thurston, sat down with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.and Daniel Kaluuya, to share what all it took behind the scenes to bring Hampton’s life to screen.

Being no stranger to large roles playing in films such as; “Get Out,” “Black Panther” and “Queen & Slim,” Kaluuya felt nothing but humbled and honored to introduce the world to the life of Fred Hampton, after learning more about his contributions and love for people.

“He had an internal revolution. He was free within his own mind, soul, and spirit and he wanted to give people the tools to be free within themselves-which was with education, food, legal aid, and all these tools they put in place to promote internal liberation as well as unity,” Kaluuya described.

While the cast did an outstanding job bringing this film to life, Kaluuya shared that it wouldn’t have been such a success without collaboration with the Hampton family during the making of the film. 

“Meeting the family was necessary. A story like this and the perspective we wanted to tell it through, having the family there to be a part of the process was imperative to everyone,” Kaluuya explained.

Joining in the conversation about his father’s legacy, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., leader of the Black Panther Party Cubs, shared that he and his family have turned down a lot of book and movie deals due to ill intentions and lack of respect. The difference with this film was the regard, historical correctness and dedication from everyone working on the film, from writers to talent. 

Kaluuya and Dominique Fishback, who played Deborah Johnson (Hampton’s girlfriend), spent a lot of time at Hampton’s former home in preparation for their roles.

“A lot of people see revolutionaries as just a leather jacket and beret, but there’s an underbelly of what a revolutionary is,” Hampton Jr. stated. “These are things you can’t read in books. These are things you got to smell and feel, and they came.”

Continuing the conversation about the work of the Black Panther Party Cubs and what this film changes for them, Hampton Jr. shared that JATBM, “helps open the door, but is not the end-all, be-all,” he said.

In his closing remarks, Kaluuya expressed his main takeaway from his role, as well as the entire film, was the theme of unity.

“It taught me how important it is to be a part of the community. To be present, share ideas, and talk,” he said.

“Judas and the Black Messiah,” directed by Shaka King and co-produced by Ryan Coogler, is set to release in theaters on Feb.12, as well as HBO Max for 31 days. 

The Hampton “100 Days” Holiday Tradition Continues

Angela Session | Staff Writer

Photo credit: Jade Brown

Made to commemorate the final months as undergraduates, “100 Days” is a school-wide celebration for Hampton seniors, who are about to graduate and make their mark on the world. Even though everything is virtual this school year and many can’t celebrate the way they normally do, the excitement was still present within the student body. 

In prior years, students celebrated with parties and gatherings at the student center for 12-2, another Hampton tradition. This year, celebrations were all over, with students dispersed across the country.

To explain all the excitement around the Hampton Holiday, I talked to graduating senior, Jade Brown, who hopes to one day become a traveling consultant, on what “100 Days” meant for her. 

“A Hampton rite of passage! All of my memories of 100 Days have been happy, and it makes me proud to be a Hampton student,” Brown shared. “I love how the student body as a union is always excited to celebrate such an important milestone. Whether you’re an incoming freshman excited to finally be in college or a graduate senior rewarding yourself on how far you’ve come, everyone is always lit! It’s one of Hampton’s holidays we all love to see, especially seniors!”

With a few months left at Hampton, Brown shared that she progressively matured from her freshman year to now, as the years went on. She mentioned she had a few low moments but is forever grateful for them for showing her the strength she had inside of her. Despite celebrating graduation in May, she added that she will miss how simple life can be in college.

Reflecting back on things she would’ve done differently, Brown said she wished she practiced patience. 

 “There were times when I was an underclassman where I wished I could have partaken in things upperclassmen were doing like moving off-campus and now having that, I love it, but it also comes with so much responsibility. I also wish I had better use of my time where I prioritized certain things and people over more important factors,” she explained.

With many memories under her belt since attending Hampton, one of her favorites was precollege. In Brown’s words, life was carefree since no one had serious classes to worry about and everyone was genuinely happy to make new friends in a new environment. Homecoming and spring fest are also a few of her top contenders.

Most seniors and upperclassmen try to advise those behind them to help make their lives a little easier, so I asked what advice she would give to younger students. “Getting involved.” Hampton offers many clubs and activities for students, and she regrets not taking the initiative of joining earlier on. Brown advises underclassmen to put themselves out there, stating how she has gained great friendships in the short time that she has been involved on campus.

Since “100 Days” highlights the remaining days the senior class has at Hampton, Brown has a rather bittersweet feeling about leaving. She explained it’s because her college experiences are not ending the way she wanted, which is something the 2020 graduates can relate to. Despite that, she believes that everything happens for a reason and is excited about her plans post-graduation, and starting a new chapter. 

Michael Rainey Jr. Talks Authenticity and Being “Deeply Rooted” with Student Peer Counselors

Vashti Dorman| Staff Writer

The Student Peer Counseling Club held a virtual event on Jan. 27, designed to help students unlock their authentic selves and overcome societal pressures and desires. 

With over 200 students in attendance, the Deeply Rooted event guided conversations around the topics of pop culture, social media, authentic relationships and the power of making the best decision.

The event kicked off with Peer Counselors, Cheyenne Paterson and Ronaldo St. James II, giving opening remarks and encouraging words to the students having to face virtual learning during a pandemic and a time of civil unrest. They shared if any students needed any assistance regarding mental health, to reach out to the Student Peer Counselors. 

16-year-old musician and singer, JoHanna Rae, then graced the event with her voice singing, “Rise Up” by Andra Day. 

Following the performance, highly anticipated keynote speaker, Michael Rainey Jr., joined the conversation on mental health. 

Best known for his role in the Starz series “Power,” as Tariq St. Patrick, Rainey spoke about his journey to stardom, getting his start in “Sesame Street” and other commercials and music videos.

Rainey got his first big role in 2009 when he starred in the Italian film entitled “Un Altro Mondo.” He later starred in the film “Luv,” where he acted alongside rapper and actor Common. He has had the opportunity to work alongside notable actors such as; Danny Glover, Dennis Haysbert, Meagan Good and Charles Dutton. 

Rainey, 20, close in age with many Hampton students, could relate to many of the experiences they faced, growing up with societal pressures. When asked how he stays authentic to himself in today’s society, he answered, 

“You have to go through things and learn as you go,” Rainey stated.

A few lucky students got to participate in a VIP Q&A where they were able to ask Rainey a few questions about “Power,” and how Hollywood affected his childhood. 

Discussing growing up on the show “Power,” he shared that at times, he struggled with his self-image, and being comfortable being in the public eye. Over the years as his self-esteem became more stable, he said he became more secure with who he was and was able to become an authentic version of himself. 

“You get the furthest being yourself,” Rainey advised students. 

Rainey also talked about dealing with the consequences of having to play a character that many fans of the show, “Power,” did not favor. Having to separate himself from the character, he focused on staying true to himself, so the rude comments did not affect him. 

“That’s what I’m on the screen for, to get a reaction out of people,” Rainey said with a smile on his face.  

Throughout the event over $500 in gift cards were raffled off to people in attendance. Along with the raffle, there were also giveaways from the sponsor of the event, Legacy Builders Insurance and Financial Services. 

Students were left with Rainey promising to visit Hampton University in person, when the Covid-19 pandemic is under control and allowed. 

Target HBCU Design Contest Winner, Isaiah Timmons ‘20

By Allyson Edge | Web Editor 

Although 2020 was undoubtedly a year full of tribulations, Hampton University class of 2020 graduate Isaiah Timmons found a silver lining in submitting his work to the Target HBCU Design Contest. At the beginning of the pandemic, Timmons saw an email from the Hampton University career center with information about the competition and received encouragement from friends to make a submission. Little did he know, he would become one of three HBCU students to win the contest and have his design sold in Target stores across the nation. 

“Seeing my design being sold in Target stores and on their website for the first time was very humbling, exciting, and beyond anything, I was grateful that I could have this opportunity, to be able to be featured in this way,” said Timmons. 

Image courtesy of Isaiah Timmons

Timmons’ design portrays an African American man and woman standing back to back, united by their hair, and the text surrounding them reads, “stronger together.” He was inspired by the concept of being strengthened by the support of one’s community. Specifically, holding members of one’s community up when they need help. Throughout Timmons’ creative process, his original design portrayed two women, but members of the Target team encouraged him to alter the image to feature both men and women.

 “I really appreciate Target for advising me to go in a different direction and showing a man and a woman because within the Black community, even though we may be diverse in our gender identities, sexual orientation religion, etc., at the end of the day we need to be able to support each other because we are all united by our blackness. Also, our allies come from various identities as well,” said Timmons. 

Being an alumni of an HBCU, Timmons is grateful for his experience at Hampton because the culture, traditions, deeply rooted history and his experiences being around like-minded individuals all influence his art.

“No matter how far I go in life, I’ll always remember my experiences at Hampton, my HBCU, and how they’ve impacted my life for the better,” Timmons said. In the future, Timmons envisions himself being a creative director. In the meantime, he is taking steps to better his own skills and knowledge while continuing to grow as a professional. 

Timmons urges any students who are thinking about entering the Target HBCU Contest or a similar type of competition in the future to share their stories.

“Always go for it! Going through the process, you always want to tell your own story through your art. Express your own experiences, not directly always, but express your own emotions and passions. And at the end of the day, whether you are selected or if you’re not, you still like what you did and are passionate about it so that’s all that really matters.” 

You can purchase Isaiah’s design along with the rest of Target’s Black History Month Collection at https://www.target.com/p/black-history-month-men-s-stronger-together-hooded-sweatshirt-beige/-/A-81531100 or in stores. 

Image courtesy of Target

SGA Addresses Student Mental Health Concerns With Spring Wellness Days

Nicole Pechacek | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Jaeyoung Geoffrey Kang on Unsplash)

In hopes to give students a day not only to relax but focus on their mental health, the Student Government Association (SGA) helped implement scheduled Wellness Days. These days will allow students to catch a break from their busy day-to-day learning. 

Many students have probably wondered how such a program came to pass. 

To help give a better understanding as to how things work within SGA, both the President, Austin Sams, and the Vice President, Kimberlee-Mykel Thompson, agreed to discuss both the implementation of mental health days and give an inside look at how ideas and programs are brought up to the administration. 

Inspiration for the wellness days initiative came from a fellow HBCU, according to SGA Vice President Thompson. 

“One of the SGA senators had seen it at North Carolina A&T, and she brought it up and thought it would be a good idea. From there, I took it and pitched the idea to Dr. Harvey,” she explained. 

While SGA has been a large part of student advocacy at Hampton, many students aren’t very aware of its inner workings, especially how ideas become full-fledged programs. 

“For this specific program, we had administrative meetings where the class officers have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Harvey and Dr. Inman,” Thompson said. “Oftentimes, these meetings are ways for them to update us, and we have a brief amount of time to let them know what’s going on in our classes in this virtual climate. There, we have the opportunity to present ideas, critiques, anything of the sort to help them run the university better, so that’s where wellness days were brought up.” 

With the pandemic still going on and people staying indoors, mental health has been a consistent issue amongst students. When asked how these days would fix this issue, Thompson explained how they can help students relieve stress and take needed breaks. 

“A lot of students complained to us that in the first semester, we had this 15-week straight semester where we had almost no breaks, and it just felt exhausting,” she shared. “Hopefully, especially in addition to spring break this semester, we’ll be able to get a break and not feel like we go to the same computer every day.” 

While SGA has managed to work despite the pandemic, things have been very different for the organization. SGA President Austin Sams said social media was a big reason as to how they have been so successful. 

“We’ve been fortunate in my opinion, to be able to be connected and meet students where they are and offer any support we can virtually,” he shared. 

With the successful implementation of wellness days, SGA plans to add more mental health initiatives in the future. 

 “Ingraining the mental health days into the university’s calendar was a big step in not only acknowledging the importance of mental health but making it a part of our actual practices of the university,” said SGA President Sams. “We’re also pushing to do mental health initiatives and partnering with different organizations either on-campus or off-campus to drive the whole mental health awareness and importance home for students, not just virtually but even when they come back on campus.”

SGA President Sams also confirmed there will be another virtual town hall and professional development programming in the coming semester. 

Wellness days will hopefully give students time to evaluate and take care of themselves during this tumultuous time. With more programs incoming, mental health awareness at Hampton is bound to increase.

Founder’s Day 2021: Celebrating 128 Years of Hampton University’s History Virtually

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Image taken by Matthew White in 2019, Director of University Relations.

The year 2021 is in full swing! As students and faculty dive back into the new semester and yet another virtual one, a lingering question remains unanswered. How is the University going to handle all of its important events? Are we still going to have them, or are we going to skip them until next year? 

As Hampton’s 128th Founder’s Day rapidly approaches, Hampton University has answered the call to action with a plan. 

In previous years, Hampton University has celebrated Founder’s Day on campus during the last Sunday of January, with students and faculty coming together to celebrate how far Hampton has come from its humble beginnings as an institute, to the university that it is today. 

In years past, the ceremony has always begun at the gravesite of Hampton University’s founder, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Before an audience of people wishing to pay respects, President Dr. William R. Harvey usually starts the ceremony by laying a wreath at the site, followed by acknowledgments of General Armstrong’s life and accomplishments. In particular, acknowledgments of all the obstacles that he had to overcome in order to start a school for minorities in the post-Civil War era, where racial tensions were at an all-time high following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. 

After paying proper respects to General Armstrong, the ceremony usually proceeds with a twenty-one gun salute, music, and a ceremony held in the Chapel, where special guests are often invited to speak.

Hampton’s 126th Founders’ Day was particularly special in which it marked the unveiling of Legacy Park, a grand array of statues located outside of the Chapel, depicting a wide variety of historical figures that impacted both Hampton University’s history and black history as a whole, from Rosa Parks to President Harvey himself. 

However, this year’s Founder’s Day is proving to be a bit different from most. Given that both Hampton students and faculty are not on campus directly, what is to become of Founder’s Day this year? 

Dr. Karen Turner Ward, Old Dominion Endowed Chair of Fine and Performing Arts and Chair of the Committee of Ceremonial Occasions at Hampton University, is able to answer that question and shed some light on how to capture that feeling of celebration and remembrance, even without being on campus. 

This year, Hampton University’s Founder’s Day will still be held on the last Sunday of January and will be held virtually. According to Dr. Ward, the virtual experience will be made accessible on Hampton University’s website, available to be accessed live by students, faculty, and the Hampton community as a whole. It will also be made available after the event’s conclusion via recordings. 

Dr. Ward, in a personal interview, stressed her love for Founder’s Day as a symbol of togetherness and remembrance and stated that although Founder’s Day will not be an in-person ceremony as it usually is, she still wants to make it as special as possible so as to keep the emotion alive. 

When asked if she thinks it’s important for students and faculty to remain connected in events such as this, Dr. Ward answered,” Oh absolutely. And especially for events like this. In a time in which we are facing such horrific numbers with this pandemic, our lives are being touched at every moment. It is important to pause and celebrate all the goodness in life. I hope everyone will come together and view the ceremony, for it will truly be a special occasion.”

As students, and just as members of the community, we should all make the attempt to celebrate another chapter in Hampton University’s history, and to just enjoy a day of unity and fellowship in these challenging times.

Tackling Today’s Issues: We.TalkAboutIt Talks Politics with Virginia’s Elected Representatives

Raven Harper | Section Editor

Photo courtesy of Aditya Vyas

When it came to this year’s presidential election, everything was on the ballot. Healthcare, the criminal justice system, the economy, education, and COVID-19 to name a few. In hopes to discover how elected officials are tackling these issues, We Talk About Its’ Yordanos Belayneh and Bailey Smith hosted ‘Let’s Talk Politics,’ an open and informative conversation with elected officials, Congresswoman Elaine Luria and Congressman Bobby Scott in late October. 

Sparked from a heated debate in Hampton’s cafeteria one day, third-year students and friends, Mason Cardwell, Yordanos Belayneh, Bailey Smith, Cole Pryor, Darius Henderson, Amber Harvey, Terell Arlington, and Jenai LaGarde created We Talk About It. Built to create stimulating and open conversations about a wide array of topics, the talk show prides itself on the diversity among its hosts as well as the different opinions that come with them. Just recently, their talk show made it to IHeartRadio. 

In a new segment entitled ‘Let’s Talk Activism’, Belayneh and Smith invited Virginia’s 2nd congressional district representative, Elaine Luria, and Virginia’s 3rd congressional district representative, Robert ‘Bobby’ Scott to their event ‘Let’s Talk Politics.’ 

Held via zoom on October 16th, the show’s purpose was to hear from two elected officials that represent Hampton students in Virginia on what they are currently doing from an insider’s perspective to solve these issues. 

Being in a state filled with various colleges and universities, the event kicked off in a discussion about the current pandemic’s effect on college campuses and what it is going to take to effectively and safely reopen. 

Congresswoman Luria mentioned how funding is the major thing that is going to help with colleges reopening safely. 

“We recognize that for colleges and universities to adapt during the time of COVID, that had a huge price tag to it,” Luria stated. “We want to make sure through legislation like the CARES Act and if we can come to another COVID relief package that it continues to include money and funds for higher education to do testing, etc.” 

The conversation then continued, touching on the current initiatives and legislation both Representatives Luria and Scott are currently working on such as; the George Floyd Policing

Act, the College Affordability Act, and the PROAct. These various legislations were made to address community policing, the growing wealth gap, and student loans. 

Focusing on the largest issues affecting the people they have been chosen to represent, Luria and Scott both agreed that their hopes for the next administration are that their work can continue. 

“Working with an administration who will be working with us, not against us on all of these [initiatives and legislations], will certainly be a delight,” Scott said. 

Towards the end of the event, host Belayneh and Smith opened the floor up for questions from the live audience in attendance. In response to a student sharing their discouragement to vote after watching the recent presidential debates, Congressman Scott shared how that should be the exact thing that inspires them to vote. 

“I don’t know why anybody would be discouraged,” Scott stated. You ought to be activated to vote. 

As the event came to a close, people in attendance were left with greater insight on what their elected officials are currently working on to fight for citizens like themselves. Host Yordanos Beleyaneh also left attendees with an encouraging message, urging them to go out in vote on November 3. 

“To the young adults, as the future of tomorrow, it is our duty to stand up for change. The revolution starts with us. So why not act now?” Beleyaneh stated. To hear more discussions like this, follow Let’s Talk About It on Instagram @we.talkaboutit. You can also find them through their podcasts on Spotify, WeHeartItRadio, and Youtube.