Strange Fruit by Jourdyn Grandison


Watch the Yard launches YARDCON

Ayanna Maxwell | Editor In Chief


Watch the Yard on April 19 launched its first YARDCON, a digital conference for black students who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Watch the Yard, known as the most prominent platform for black college students, fraternities and sororities, created the conference to offer resources and network opportunities for black students across the nation. 

Hosted by Watch the Yard founder Jonathan Rabb, the conference began with a gospel music set performed by DJ Ricovelli and a prayer from Hampton University alum Michael Eley. Journalist Roland Martin followed up with an open conversation among HBCU SGA presidents regarding how their schools are adjusting to their new norms. SGA presidents from Tennessee State, Florida A&M, Clark Atlanta and Norfolk State discussed how they’ve remained connected with their students through social media and emphasized the importance of empathy for college students during this time. 

Hampton University sophomore and Black Lives Matter Greater NY President Nupol Kiazolu led the next segment, which focused on the impact coronavirus has had on communities. Under Kiazolu’s leadership, Black Lives Matter Greater NY crafted a petition to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging him to implement more COVID-19 testing facilities in black communities that have been disproportionately affected. 

“If you’re in a community that you know has been hit hard by this pandemic, create a letter, write to your senators or write to your governors,” Kiazlou said. 

TV personality and winner of T.I.’s Grand Hustle Krystal Garner hosted a session titled “Hustling Through Corona,” discussing ways to generate income during the quarantine. This session featured entrepreneur Wavey’s World, wedding and lifestyle photographer Reem Virgo and apparel company Support Black Colleges. 

As if that wasn’t enough, YARDCON attendees also received tips on resume-building and learned how to maneuver LinkedIn. Renee Reid, a staff UX design researcher at LinkedIn, advised students to draft compelling personal summaries that are concise and meaningful, like elevator pitches. 

“Tell a short story about yourself so people are intrigued,” Reid said. 

Reid also gave away a free six-month premium Linkedin package to a special YARDCON guest. 

Resume expert Elizabeth Fletcher described what HR specialists seek in the ideal resume, including a professional email address, professional summary and transferable skills. 

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has taken a major toll on people’s mental health worldwide. Wellness Leader Keith Pough hosted a “Mental Health Check In,” in which he mentioned his three keys to a positive day: gratitude, attitude anIMG_3984IMG_3984d servitude. Also, contrary to the popular belief of social media, he argued that it is OK to come out of this quarantine without a new business venture. 

“I think we should come out of this with more peace, more perspective and more empathy – not more products,” Pough said. 

The Black Mental Health Alliance, also a sponsor of YARDCON, was on standby in the conference’s networking forum for students to interact with therapists one-on-one. The networking forum was also available throughout the conference for attendees to connect with each other. 

In the next session, Regan Farley, senior publicist and CEO of the Regan Farley Agency, shared some insight on how to increase social media following. 

“Protecting your brand is important,” Farley said. “If you’re a member of an organization, that’s still a brand. Keep in mind what you put out, how it’s perceived and who’s going to see it.” 

Rabb introduced Watch the Yard’s #VerifyMyHBCU campaign, targeting HBCUs who are not officially verified on Instagram. 

“Out of 98 HBCUs. only 4 are verified,” Rabb said. 

Being that many notable PWIs are verified on Instagram, Rabb encouraged HBCU students to visit to sign a petition to get their respective HBCUs the recognition they deserve. 

Rapper Dee-1 and founder of ONE Musicfest Steve Canal led an “Inside the Music Industry” segment, followed by special giveaways from Forbes8. Forbes8 introduced eight virtual internship and celebrity mentorship opportunities focused on music, sports, tech, food and beverage, storytelling, influence, fashion, and social impact. 

The conference concluded with a virtual performance of “Swag Surf” by creators @We.R.Fly and @Only1Easton. To top it all off, each speaker represented his/her HBCU or Divine Nine organization by wearing paraphernalia throughout the entire show. 

YARDCON was a major success, to say the least. Attendees left with knowledge, connections and even internship opportunities. For additional information about YARDCON, visit

Jermaine Marrow becomes HU’s all-time leading scorer

Nazim Trammell-Wells | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Stephen Baker

Jermaine Marrow made history last week by becoming Hampton University’s all-time leading scorer in men’s basketball. In doing so, he passed former NBA Star Rick Mahorn. 

“It was a goal I had in mind when I first committed here, and it feels good to reach that goal,” Marrow said in an interview with the Daily Press. “I remember everyone telling me I needed two more points, three more points to get the record.”

Marrow, who’s known for scoring buckets in high quantity, wasn’t having the best game. While he accounted for 13 points in the first half, he was held scoreless until the 4:52 mark when he hit a layup that tied the mark. He was then fouled, went to the free throw line and hit both shots, passing Mahorn.

The entire crowd knew how close Marrow was to the record, and when he did eclipse it, they erupted. Coach Buck Joyner also called a timeout so that Marrow could briefly bask in the moment. 

Marrow was greeted by smiles and handshakes from his teammates before closing out the game with a 80-70 win over UNC Asheville.

“It was an exciting moment,” Hampton senior Cameron Austin said. “I knew he could get buckets, but becoming Hampton’s all-time leading scorer is a feat that I never thought I’d see.

“I hope that he continues to ball and gets a chance in the NBA.” 

Marrow has been a hometown hero for some time now. He attended high school at Heritage High School in Newport News, where he averaged 31 points per game.

After the season concludes, Marrow plans to declare for the NBA Draft. Last year, he tested his stock to see what scouts were saying but ultimately decided to return back to Hampton. Marrow will finish the season with the most prolific career in Hampton University basketball history before taking his talents to the big stage.

The Photograph: Not a love story – a like story

Alton Worley II | Staff Writer


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.

Commentary: Oscars are still so white

Anisa Saigo | Staff Writer


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, 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

Jay Electronica 2

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. 

Coronavirus: What you must know

Kailah Lee | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Kelly Sikkema

Many have heard about the Coronavirus (CoV), a recent epidemic. What makes it even scarier is that there are hourly updates on how much the disease is affecting hundreds upon thousands of people with little information on the prevention of it. 

According to Vox, the outbreak has reached more than 40,000 people and counting. Fortunately for us in the U.S., it hasn’t become as prominent of an issue as it is in China, but by no means should you take this virus lightly. 

The coronavirus and similar strains such as mCov, SARS and MERS are known as zoonotic, which is a fancy word for being transmittable by humans and animals. Originally, this is how the disease came to fruition. As stated by numerous sources, SARS and MERS allegedly evolved from bats and civet cats to affecting humans. But 2019-nCov seems to be a mystery. This raises some concerns considering that government officials are known to experiment in laboratories. Just like AIDS began with human and animal contact, many conspiracies suggest otherwise.

With little information on this outbreak, questions are pouring from the public. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a few symptoms begin with fever, cough and shortness of breath. In a previous report form The Lancet, more detailed symptoms such as fever, muscle pain, fatigue, headache and diarrhea have been seen. In extreme acute cases, pneumonia, kidney failure and death have occurred.

Deaths have occurred in China, and in little time, the infectious disease is spreading like wildfire.

“Is this the disease that is going to take us out and bring on the apocalypse like in Stephen King?” said Dr. James Peterson, a writer, educator and consultant in a STEM panel discussion.

To his credit, the public has no way of knowing what might come of it. It may seem a little cinematic, but with movies, history and research to suggest otherwise, it’s safe to be open-minded about the virus.

“You cannot believe everything you hear about it, but this virus is a serious threat to global humanity,” Peterson said.

With dangling research in multiple sources, there is no exact answer to our questions. The best thing we can do for ourselves is treat the disease as if it were flu or common cold.

World Health Organization international standards for preventing spread are regular hand washing, covering mouth—either by elbow or surgical mask while coughing and sneezing—and meticulously cooking most meats and eggs.

The importance of establishing a daily skin care routine

Brandi Howliet | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Toa Heftiba

The proper skin care routine is hard to figure out but necessary.

The skin on our bodies is the largest organ, so taking care of it is very important. It helps prevent infection and harmful elements from getting into our bodies. There are so many products on the market, and the beauty industry is at an all-time high, so many consumers don’t know where to start. The correct skin care routine is built over time; it doesn’t just happen overnight. 

With time and diligence, you’ll eventually find the right products for you. Using a daytime and nighttime regime is a good start to establishing a healthy skin care routine. Your routine can be a short, easy process that cleanses and moisturizes your skin at the same time. 

Step One: Cleanse 

Start your morning with a splash of fresh, warm water. Then, use a cleanser designed for your skin. If you have oily skin, use a soap that can help combat oiliness. If your skin is dry, use a product that can clean and moisturize your skin at the same time. 

“For my face, I use micellar water before I cleanse,” said HU student Antonia Jackson, a third-year MBA major. “After, I use Cetaphil, then I rub my face with witch hazel. After I use the witch hazel, I apply a rose water for a calming effect. My routine applies for morning and night.” 

Cleansers can be found in local drug stores such as Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Target. There’s a wide range of facial cleansers offered in stores, but finding the right one for your skin type can be a bit difficult. 

Step Two: Serum 

Serum is a highly concentrated product that you put on your skin after cleansing but before moisturizing. It delivers powerful ingredients to your skin to ensure moisture and glow. Serums are also infused with antioxidants that keep your skin hydrated and protected throughout the day. It is important to use these types of products on our facial skin instead of lotion and heavy oils that can block our pores. Serums can be found in drug stores and higher-end beauty retailers.

If you are wondering which serum to buy, consider Dr. Botanicals’ Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil. This serum is a vegan-based product that’s made with natural ingredients. It retails for $19.99 in its 15ml size and $39.99 in its 30ml size. It works well on dry skin and helps stimulate collagen for younger looking skin. 

Step Three: Moisturize 

Moisturizing your face should be the final step in your daytime or nightly routine. Whether you have a daily regimen or not, moisturizing is by far one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body. Applying lotion on your skin is normal, but some products are better for your face than others. Taking the time to find the right moisturizing product for your skin will benefit you in the long run and ensure a youthful appearance. According to the Medical University of Tennessee, the most important time to moisturize your skin is after a bath, shave or exfoliating. Water strips the natural oils from your skin and body so using a good moisturizer is a good way to prevent dry skin. 

“I don’t really have a skin routine since my skin doesn’t really require much work,” said HU student Gabrielle Tazewell, a third-year journalism major.

“But what I have noticed [is that] my skin has become more dry these past few months, so I am currently searching for the best moisturizer for me.” 

Establishing a healthy skin care regime becomes more important as we all age.

Many factors affect our skin, so taking extra steps to protect it is important and will help us look better than ever.

Diversity in technology

Simone Quary | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Domenico Loia

In today’s world, it is undeniable that technology plays an integral role in every aspect of life. It allows for the completion of simple and complex tasks within seconds. 

Technological advances in the past millenium have also resulted in the rise of social media, which have given any person, regardless of their upbringing, a chance to voice their opinion. 

The diversity prevalent among social media users has brought to question whether the same diversity is reflected within the the technological workforce. As for nearly all industries in the United States, there has been a call for more diversity in the workforce. 

  While technological powerhouses have taken steps to recruit minorities at colleges and universities, there are still many obstacles to overcome. In an article published on in 2017, Buck Gee, an executive advisor at the nonprofit Ascend, provides clarity on the adversities that different races experience. 

“The diversity problems of each race are different,” Gee wrote. “In Silicon Valley, for blacks and Hispanics, the basic problem is getting in the door. The problem with Asian Americans in Silicon Valley is upper mobility to management.” 

In 2018, Google’s annual diversity report showed the breakdown of hires of gender and race, with the overall workforce composing of 48.5% white, 43.9% Asian, 6.8% Latinx, 4.8%, and < 1% Native American. A clear gender gap was shown, with nearly 70 percent of males making up the entire workforce. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) plays a critical role in the formation and functioning of technology itself, and results in innovations such as facial recognition. However, researchers have discovered unintentional racial biases in AI algorithms, primarily when identifying which patients benefit from additional health care. 

Racial biases in AI algorithms also present themselves as police begin to embrace the use of facial recognition technology when identifying suspects, with an overwhelming amount of people of color being mistaken for crimes. 

Encouraging the spread of diversity in the technological field can help reduce the social, cultural and institutional biases. Ally Minju Hong, a sophomore aeronautics and astronautics major attending MIT, hopes to be part of this change. 

“STEM fields have an urgent need for more minorities as their driving force,” Hong said. “The very Snapchat filters we use and the machine-learning algorithms behind online targeting ads are just a few examples of AI. There’s been a few examples of discrimination by tech already (i.e., Google images deeming pictures of African-American women as sexually explicit at a higher rate), and if we include certain tech within anything essential, like our justice system, it may inherit or overlook the same biases the creators are having. After all, the programs are only as good as the code inputted by the programmers.” 

  The need for more representation among minorities in technology has been strongly encouraged  at Hampton University. Professors and students alike understand the skills and unique perspective that they can offer to major companies. 

Herman Robinson, a sophomore computer information systems major from Chesterfield, Virginia, describes his classroom setting for his core classes. 

“We’ve learned that, in technology, not enough African-Americans are represented and not enough females as well,” Robinson said. “For instance, I’m in a computer science class here, and there’s only two or three females even though Hampton is a predominantly female school. In the future, I think technology companies need to stress the importance of having more African-Americans, and especially African-American females, be represented.”

Recently, HBCUs have gained the attention of major companies, and some, such as Google, have created immersion programs for high schoolers and undergraduate students for minority students. Having a healthy, diverse workforce in technology will enable it to progress in order to create a safe world. 

Too many romantic movies and not enough real-life romance

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer


Photo Credit: Unsplash User Frank McKenna

As a hopeless romantic, I can easily admit that watching romance films and allowing myself to become encapsulated in love stories has heavily influenced my expectations and perceptions about falling in love. 

I just knew my foot would “pop” when I got my first kiss (The Princess Diaries) and that if I tragically lost my memory in a car crash, my future husband would do everything in his power to help me remember the love we once had (The Vow).

  Constantly viewing these images of men performing grand gestures to get the girl of their dreams created this expectation that if a guy was interested in me, he would go out of his way and manage to knock me off of my feet. Needless to say, this has never happened. At most, a guy has called me fine, asked for my number and that was that (not even slightly romantic). 

Romantic films tend to give off the idea that love at first sight exists and that true love can overcome all obstacles. I have found myself in situationships trying to fight through every obstacle thrown my way because I always thought if we liked each other, we would both be willing to fight through anything. 

I believed that distance could not hold us back, and as long as we communicated, we would be able to keep it pushing and eventually fall madly in love. I can only blame my warped mindset on the simple fact that my DVD collection is overflowing with romantic films.

Although these films are great, they unintentionally create unrealistic expectations for love and leave many of us disappointed and unsatisfied in relationships. 

“I’ve been obsessed with romantic movies for as long as I can remember,” said Kendra Phillips, a Hampton University health science major from Columbia, Maryland. “After watching these movies, I went into relationships having high standards because the idea of a perfect relationship was always depicted in these movies.

“Romantic movies do a good job of making relationships look easy, and most of the time, they have a happy ending. That’s not always realistic, in my opinion.” 

As whimsical and enchanting these love stories often are, we eventually realize that love is not as easy and magical as it appears to be on the big screen.

“Romantic movies have definitely impacted my expectations, in terms of staple romance movies where everything is idealistic,” said Kailah Lee, an HU journalism major from Richmond. “Over time, you learn the true grit of love and romance, and how complicated and messy it can get.” 

“I can’t speak on behalf of everyone because each person is going to have a different effect, plus romance movies are so much more enjoyable when there is a good outcome. But a lot of times, we think our stories are going to pan out like in the movies, and you just have to write your own book. It’s best to live and love organically.” 

Of course, I am not expecting anyone to stop watching romantic films. Instead, to save all of us from a little disappointment, we should tread lightly while watching these films. 

Love does exist, and romance is not dead, but we do not live in a world full of Noah Calhouns (The Notebook) and Darius Lovehalls (Love Jones). If we stop expecting every man we encounter to embody any of these characters, we would be a lot less disappointed when they do not live up to our expectations.