Kwanzaa Celebration

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Kwanzaa--an African-American holiday--celebration usually starts on the 26th of December and ends on New Year's Day but the African American Culture Center, located on the side of Delaney Hall, decides to celebrate it a little early each year.

Saturday, December 11 at 4:30 p.m. in the Ohio room in the HUB, Kwanzaa came alive. Lights of red, tables of black and accents of green filled the room. The colors red, black and green are the symbolic colors of Kwanzaa. The red represents the color of the blood that was shed by our people. The green represents the color of the land. The black represents the color of our people.The evening started off with some performances by IUP's own African Dance Ensemble, Damage Dolls and Voices of Joy. The performances were followed by a presentation by AACC's graduate assistant Mr. Mahammadou Ganda Nabi. Nabi explained the history of Kwanzaa and why it is an important piece of African-American history.

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(African Dance Ensemble/Photo by Tiana Reid)

20101211172454.jpg(Voices of Joy/photo by Tiana Reid)

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(Kinara with the candles and the table setting/ photo by Tiana Reid)

Kwanzaa is a national African-American holiday that celebrates the culture of Africa. The holiday stresses the importance of family, community, culture, history and values. There are so many symbolic pieces in the Kwanzaa celebration such as the Kinara, the candle holder that holds seven candles; three in red, three in green and one in black. Each candle represents the seven principles of Kwanzaa:

Umoja- Unity

Kujichagulia- Self determination

Ujima- Collective work and responsibility

Ujamaa- Cooperative economics

Nia- Purpose

Kuumba- Creativity

Imani- Faith

The night continuted with students and faculty members lighting the candles and reciting what each candle stood for (each of the seven principles).

Dinner was served shortly after and afterward more celebration with dancing and singing from the Nazu Dance and Drum Ensemble of Baltimore, Maryland. The evening wrapped up with a raffle for children and then one for the adults. Several children walked away with prizes and three adults walked away with wrapped prizes as well.

Kwanzaa is celebrated by millions of people worldwide. It was a great way to end the year and celebrate something so beautiful.

 

Here's a Video of Voices of Joy (video by Tiana Reid...I apologize for the quality of the video) 

 

Rockin' Red

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Yesterday, December 1, was AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) awareness day. As I walked through the campus I noticed bright red ribbons (the international symbol for AIDS awareness) tied to the trees in the Oak Grove and students wearing red to represent the awareness.

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(picture from Google)

But it's not time to put the red away. There were about 33 million people living with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) in the United States at the end of 2009 (according advert.org), just over half of those cases were women.

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(graph is from avert.org)

The numbers have been growing steadily since 1990 but it has to stop now.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is even scarier in the black community. Although African-Americans only account for 12 percent of the US population, nearly 46 percent of all people living with HIV are African-Americans. The death rates for African-Americans infected with HIV or AIDS are higher than those of any other race.

Fast facts from The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:

Black women accounted for a majority of new HIV cases (61 percent) in 2006 and of new AIDS cases (65 percent) in 2008 among women

Black teens, only 15 percent of the population, accounted for 68 percent of new AIDS cases among teens in 2007.

D.C. has the highest AIDS diagnosis rate in the country for Blacks.

HIV death rates are the highest amongst Blacks.

In 2006, HIV was the fourth leading cause of death for Black men and the third for Black women ages 25-44.

***

With all of this information easily available to anyone with access to the internet, free clinics or local libraries, why are our numbers so high? 

The Black Student League (an organization of which I am a member) decided to provide IUP's students with even more information about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The BSL will hold a general meeting next Tuesday, December 7, in the Knowlton room in the HUB at 7 p.m. The meeting is titled: The Closet Killer: Why Are We Dying?

There's also a National Black HIV/AIDs awareness month (February) website. I never knew that there was a nationally recognized Black HIV/AIDS awareness month. It's been recognized for the past 11 years. Even with all of this information out there at our disposal, we still have so much to learn.

So dont stop rockin' your red just yet, get tested, get informed, get treated and spread the knowledge.

 

"All the Single Ladies!"

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Did you know that 82% of African-American women are single*? I know right, that's a huge number. That means that the majority of African-American women, 18 and older, are without a mate.

*Although I found that 70% of all African-American women are single, I could not find where the 82% came from, that's still a significant number.

This above information was shocking to me as I received it in a Black Student League (an organization of which I am a member) general meeting titles: Why are black women single? The meeting took place around 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16 in the Knowlton room in the HUB. The room, which usually seats about 20-25 people, was jammed packed with curious students. The room was so filled that students had to retrieve chairs from another room and sit in the doorway and hallway of the Knowlton room! I was pleased with the amount of students eager to know why the number of single black women was so high.

The discussion, lead by BSL's vice presidents Ayianna Jones, Christopher Harris and Darryl Ellis, suggested that some reason for this issue:

First, 2.5 million African-American men registered for the WWII draft leaving African-American wives to become the head of the household in their husbands' absences.

Next, once these men returned from war, life of a veteran was less than desirable especially for the African-American man. Therefore some of these men turned to the easiest way to make fast money, selling drugs or other illegal activities. Of course these men ended up in prison, once again leaving the African-American woman as the head of the house hold.

By this time, African-American women were gaining a new sense of independence and strength and no longer expected a man to be in the household to contribute. The African-American woman became the wife, the mother, the care giver, the sole provider and the head of the household.

And as the education and salary increase for the African-American woman, their pickings for an African-American man on the same socioeconomic level are even slimmer.

*All of this information was provided at the BSL general meeting*

Here's a video (courtesy of YouTube) that tries to explain this matter. This video was also shown at the BSL meeting Tuesday evening.

 

What's your take on these facts? Why do you believe such a large number of African- American women are single?

Boyz II Men, ABC, BBD, East Coast Family!

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"The best $12 I've ever spent!" said IUP junior and Business Major Dionna Jenkins. Boyz II Men performed at Fisher Auditorium, Friday, Nov. 12 in front of what seemed to be a full house. The guys are celebrating 20 years in the music industry but according to Jenkins, it didn't seem like 20 years had gone by,

"It was like it was 1990 the way they were up there singing and dancing!" Jenkins said. "They made me fall in love with their music all over again."

Boyz II Men first hit the scene in 1990, signing their first record deal with Motown Records. With the ability to not only sing and harmonize beautifully, but to also write their own music, it was no wonder why these guys head straight to the top. According to their website, their very first released song as a group, Motownphilly, immediately shot to the top of the charts and sold more than 12 million copies. And they dont seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Although Boyz II Men originally had four members; Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael Mc Cary, only the first three named now make up Boyz II Men. Mc Cary left the group in 2003 after suffering from chronic back pain due to scoliosis.

With their bass singer gone, Boyz II Men still found a way to keep their music alive. Here's what one IUP student had to say about the night's event,

"I thought it was a classy event." said IUP sophomore English mojor Jasmine Childs "They catered to all types of music not just things we know like the two classics R&B and Love Songs, but they dove into rock, blues as well as R&B which just prove that they're the all around "American Band"!"

Personally, I agree. I felt like Boyz II Men left their hearts on the stage and that says a lot about their understanding of the music industry. I didn't feel like I was watching average 40 year old men trying to get back what they had 20 years ago, I felt like I'd taken a time machine back to 1990 and were watching them as young high school students.

"They still got it." said Jenkins.

Even during the show, after so many songs, one of the members would just talk to the audience about their appreciation of our understanding of knowing when to sit down and listen to the lyrics and when to stand up and scream the lyrics.

Here's a video I recorded during the show when the guys came out and decided to give us two more songs!

 

If you attended the concert, or any Boyz II Men concert, what did you think of their performance?

Black Girls Rock

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Tonight (Nov.7) was our night ladies. BET partnered with Black Girls Rock to dedicate an entire award show to our fight, our struggle and our beauty (inside and out) donning the same name, Black Girls Rock. The show, which took place in the Bronx, Ny, awarded black women and black young ladies in the entertainment world, business world and those making strides in everyday life. It honestly felt great to see a show dedicated to us. I felt amazing to see all of the black women who have paved the way for many, like me, to do whatever it is that our hearts desire.

 

Black Girls Rock encourages young black girls to embrace the color of their skin, the texture of their hair and the shape of their bodies and love each and every last bit of it. Presenters and performers such as Nia Long, Jill Scott, Monica, Keyshia Cole, and Marsha Ambrosius set the tone for the night bringing words of wisdom, songs of encouragement and empowerment. Award winners such as Missy Elliot, Keke Palmer, Raven-Symone, Ruby Dee and Teresa Clarke reminded every black girl and woman in the audience and at home why Black Girls Rock.

Sometimes it may seem that there are so many hurdles in life holding us, black women, back. The road to success for us may even seem non-existent but this organization and the award show reassured us that yes, there will be hurdles in life and it will be tough but we can do it. I asked Facebook "Why do you think Black Girls Rock?" And I was moved by the responses:

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So tell me, why do you think Black Girls Rock?

Two years ago today...

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This is the exact day, almost down to the hour, that Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. I remember quite vividly jumping up and down with my roommate after finding out that he'd been elected. It was the first time that I'd voted and I really felt like my vote made a difference; like my voice mattered. I remember racing into the hallway of my dorm in Lawrence Hall (which is now where the Crimson Suites stand)screaming with my friends and roommate. We didn't care that it was "quiet hours" as our CA reminded us. The only thing that mattered was that our voices were heard. We raced downstairs and joined what seemed like half of IUP's population in cheering for our new president. I remember hugging anyone and everyone who stood around me. And the crowd roared even louder when a guy drove down the street playing Young Jeezy's song "My President is Black".

 

Here's a video (courtesy of YouTube) of a portion of the night. The video is being shot from Scranton Hall (where the crimson suites now reside).

Since it is the middle of his term, I felt that it was appropriate to ask you all what you think about how things are going so far. We all know that Obama had a big mess to clean up after the previous president. Obama himself said that it would not happen overnight but change will come. 

I attended an event courtesy of Zeta Phi Beta Inc (sorority) tonight about the president and his progress since being elected. I want to know your thoughts, concerns and hopes for the future.

First I want you to think back to the night he was elected as our president. Where were you? How did you feel? What did you do?

Now I want you to express your initial hopes and concerns at the beginning of Obama's election compared to what he has accomplished thus far.

And finally, will you re-elect him? Why or why not?

Happy Halloween!

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Happy Halloween! I hope everyone had a safe and fun weekend. I know I had fun watching people walk down Philadelphia St. wearing costumes. Some creative; like the two guys dressed as Bert and Ernie of Seasme Street or three people dressed as the cast of Juno. And then there were some not so creative: a playboy bunny, a cop or a cheerleader. Each Halloween I've noticed the same thing; a number of girls chose to dress up in lingerie and call it a costume. This year was no exception. I've always wondered, "What ever happened to being scary for Halloween?" But a coworker of mine, who wished to remain nameless, said,

"Scary isn't sexy and every girl wants to be sexy."

Now, I don't want to put every girl in that category because some girls want to be scary for Halloween. My point is why has Halloween turned into an excuse for girls to dress proactively? As I sat behind the counter of Pita Pit (my job), I watched countless girls walk by wearing next to nothing as costumes. An article I read on collegefashion.net titled, Do Halloween Costumes Have to be Slutty? speaks on the topic of Halloween costumes on college campuses and the "requirement" for girls to be "slutty" for Halloween. The article suggest that there's a lack of originality because it's difficult to be different; it's easy to find "slutty" costumes.

What do you think? In the past, have you ever worn a costume for Halloween such as the ones mentioned above? Or do you know anyone who has? Personally, I know that most of my friends have dressed as something sexy for Halloween. What's wrong with being scary? Do you ever feel pressured to dress sexy instead of scary for Halloween?

"When to Pull the Race Card"

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This past Tuesday, Oct. 19, I attended the Black Student League's general meeting (an organization of which I am a member). The topic of discussion was "When to Pull the Race Card". The "race card" is a term that has been used to question another's actions or words on the basis of race; in other words, the card gets pulled when one feels that a prejudice action has occurred.

 

For instance, one of the examples given at the meeting was police and racial profiling; a situation in which the "race card" should be pulled. The discussion of the "race card's" use and abuse created interesting feedback from the attendees of the meeting. (the videos will be uploaded a.s.a.p)

In the clip below, the "race card" is explained by BSL's public relations representative and IUP senior, Christina Ellis.(recorded by Tiana Reid)

 

 

 

 

 

Further discussion of the "race card" and its use/abuse and a story from BSL Vice President and IUP SeniorChris Harris. (recorded by Tiana Reid)

 

 

What do you think? Is the "race card" still necessary in today's society? Have you ever used the "race card" or had it used against you? And if so, what was the situation? I want to know about your experiences with the "race card" and what you think about it.

Always something to do

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Here is a listing of the upcoming events for IUP students:

·         Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc Lambda Mu Chapter's Sigma Study Tables

Time, date and place:

8-9 p.m., Monday, Oct 18 in the library basement

·         Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc Lambda Mu Chapter and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Kappa Lambda Chapter's Game Zone

Time, date and place:

7:20-9:22 p.m., Monday, Oct 18 in the Susquehanna Room in the HUB

·         Black Student League General Meeting

Topic:"When to pull the race card."

Time, Date and place:

7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19 in the Knowlton room in the HUB

·         BEC and TEN's trip to Kennywod Fright Night

Time, date and place:

4:15 p.m., Friday, Oct 29 in the parking lot of the HUB (the bus will leave at 4:30 p.m. sharp)

Price: $20 (includes transportation and admission)

Tickets are being sold now in the HUB

 

*If there are any events that are not listed here that you are planning to attend this month, leave a comment with the event's name, time, place and date. Thanks!

 

Happy Homecoming?

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I remember about a year ago I attended a meeting/discussion--hosted by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority--that focused on the topic of police brutality during Homecoming on our (IUP's) campus and in our surrounding areas (off campus). I remember some students had concerns with the intensity of police brutality during Homecoming and some who feared that black students would be targeted over white students. Police who attended the meeting as well assured students that black students would not be targeted.

This year, students had the same concerns...

Jazmyne Walker, a 20-year-old IUP junior and Child and Family Studies major, expressed her concerns for the Homecoming weekend,

"I noticed that there were six police men on horses surrounding the Underground--a night club on Philadelphia St-- but there were hardly any police men on "Frat Row"," She said. "There are just as many people intoxicated at the Underground as there are at Frat Row, so why is it any different in the security level?"

I want to know about your Homecoming experience this past weekend; did you notice the same thing that Jazmyne noticed or did you not see any difference? I also want to know your opinions on why it may seem like the presence of the police is greater when there's a party with predominately black attendees.

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