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Taylor Swift Throws Shade At Kanye West…

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Shhh…. I’m Being Bullied

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Photo Credited To: The Anti-Defamation League

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Parents will tell their children that bullying is a part of life and to turn the other cheek. However, 78% of children and teenagers have admitted to being bullied and 34% of children have admitted to being cyber-bullied. Vengeful students are known to go on killing sprees because of elicit behavior shown by their peers. Bullying is a nationwide issue that can be overlooked by our fellow Americans and it’s up to society to advocate for change.

Primary and secondary schools have begin to create anti-bullying programs for students, increasing awareness.  Teachers have suggested that web-seminars be held each semester at school involving students and parents to recognize the warning signs of a bullied child. Peers can encourage victims positively by being by a good friend, helping them embrace them selves, telling them they are not alone, and participate in positive activities. Teachers can play a huge role by being knowledgeable and observant of their students in the classrooms and set positive expectations.

“If changes are not made, then it could take a turn for the worst”, says Principal Perez of Angeles Mesa Elementary in Los Angeles, CA. The effects of bullying can be detrimental, causing psychological and social problems. Also, children tend to decrease academically which is a warning sign of one being picked on. Children who are bullied suffer psychologically leading to many suicidal thoughts. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 15% of students considered attempting suicide.

Everyone deals with some sort of bullying in their lifetime which is a better reason why this issue should be addressed more often. There may not be scientific proof that bullying leads to suicide, but there are more than enough studies conducted that show bullying does play a huge factor in adolescent and teenage suicide.

The more attention this issue receives, the more awareness is spread. More social awareness can save a child’s life. Trust, if there was a way to travel back in time to prevent my classmates from teasing me and yelling “Fluffy Bear”, I would. Help other children and students by addressing the social issue of bullying.


Taking A Tour Through Salt City

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We don’t ignore the salt of the story” says Aliyah Miller who plays Salt in the production of Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem. Salt City is a musical about a fierce indigenous black woman with an overwhelming future ahead of her. She was raised in Detroit, the home of salt mines and Techno.

The musical was held at Baldwin Burroughs Theater Fine Arts Building on Spelman College’s campus, free and open to the public from Feb 16-19 beginning at 8pm. The Director Aku Kadogo welcomed all guests and visitors to watch in hopes of learning about black arts in a different limelight.

As soon as the curtains open, the group of actors and dancers chant “Salt, Blood, Sweat, Tears” setting a powerful tone in the theater and evoking a response from the audience with big applause. Keri Garrett who plays Erzulie and Aliyah Miller who plays salt were dancing side-by-side on the stage, both imitating each move the other does, creating a slow paced anticipation for the audience as they both yell, ”Salt is the way of life. Salt preserves life. We are the preservers of life. ”

Jessica Care Moore, the writer of Salt City says, “Salt City was a dream project. Detroit Techno is an important part of my life. I know some of the legends, and I respect and love this community.” This is her third show she’s done at Spelman College. She’s been a poet and artist for 25 years and believes in being a voice for the African-American community. In reference to Salt City she quotes, ”I was trying not to cry backstage.”

The play ends with the actors saying,” We the ones they couldn’t kill.” “We don’t ignore the salt of the story”, says Miller. The reference was used to remind those of the brutal happenings in African history and how society doesn’t want to remember. However, Salt is a character from the future 2071, but still remembers the roots of her ancestors. According to Kadogo, this choreopoem is a time past, the now, and a tectonic shift in time to the future.

Sister Kadogo, explains how she wanted to get back to the authenticity of feelings and art. She remembers the of 1978 where she lived in Australia and worked with indigenous people and how it was such a genuine energy and fondness. She quotes,” I miss that authentic feeling. Everything we learn is mediated nowadays.” The play ensemble the genre of sci-fi Afrofuturistic dance theater work. Kadogo wanted to help bring Moore’s creation to life. Quoting, “How does one respond to a poem? With a poem.”

For the cast this musical was a theatrical journey that kept them guessing. One of the actors says, “We’ve been rehearsing since last September. This was such an original piece. The characters become part of you and the words become part of you.” Salt City: A Techno Choreopoem is an afro-futuristic piece that embodies the past, present and future of African-Americans in today’s world.

KSU Dominates North Florida

With only 7.8 seconds left on the board and the North Florida Ospreys down by two points, Deandrea Sawyer shoots two free throws winning the basketball game 52-48 for the Kennesaw State Women’s team.

When a KSU Owl’s fan was asked how she spent her weekends, she enthusiastically replied,” Supporting my lady Owls!” The KSU Women’s Basketball team took their conquestful win over North Florida on Feb.18 at the Kennesaw State Convocation Center.

The first quarter of the game began with the KSU Owls falling behind by two points. By half-time North Florida was in the lead with a score of 28-26. That quickly changed in the fourth quarter with Kennesaw State leading 39-37 with nine minutes left. The game was close between the two teams and anticipation stirred a subtle prayer from the audience. Who would be the champion?

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After a time-out called by North Florida, with one minute and seven seconds left on the board Kelly Dulkoski steals the ball, making it a highlight of the game and amping the crowd up, KSU leading by one point. The most crucial moment of the game, North Florida fouls KSU, giving them an opportunity to shoot two free throws. The audience is silent and #44 Deandrea Sawyer, attempts two free throws. She makes them both and the fans start cheering, the lady Owls win the game.

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The all stars of the game were Kelly Dulkoski scoring a total of 15 points, Allison Johnson with 12 rebounds, and Clara Young with four assists. These ladies were the key ingredient to winning the game along with team effort and a vivacious cheering crowd.

The KSU Owl’s Coach Agnus Berenato had a brief pregame spiel. She made sure to encourage the girls by words of wisdom and doing their routinely huddle and warm up. The team’s assistant coach Ms. Head, made it her duty that all of the players uplifted each other and despite whether they won or not, they would still be victorious because of the effort and hard work they’ve put in.

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However, the North Florida Ospreys were not so lucky this game, their record 10-17. The team talked about remaining driven and confident, although they’ve experienced another loss of the season. The goal could possibly be to strengthen their offensive rebounds more than anything. The is a crucial component of a team that is great at shooting the ball, but not having the correct playing strategies. Although they were devastated, they shook hands with the lady Owls and congratulated them on their win.

When asked how they felt about winning the team replied back, “Excited.” This was a bounce back back from the last game with the Stetson Hatters, losing 43-60. The team hasn’t had the best season with a total of 5,225 points. However, the KSU Owls redeemed themselves with nine steals, thirteen assists, and thirty rebounds. They’ve won 8-17 games so far and encourage their fans to support them at their next home game against the Jacksonville State Dolphins Feb 20th.

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Feature Story: The Scoop On Music Critic Melissa Ruggieri

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Photo Credited to: AJC.Com & Jimblackman.com

Infamous music critic and feature writer, Melissa Ruggieri has made a name for herself in the entertainment and writing industry. She has interviewed many celebrities from John Boyega (Starred as Finn in the Star Wars), Warren Beatty (Stars in Rules Don’t Apply), Norah Jones, Stevie Nicks, and many more. Even she couldn’t get a sign stating she was part of the print crawl at the Country Music Awards. She says in a joking manner, “This is where 20 years in the business get you, no respect, no one cares.”

It is no secret that during the history of news media: journalists, reporters, and other media professionals usually get the bad end of the stick. On the contrary, media serves as the watchdog and medium for the public. If media were to never exist, then how would the public get their news? The real question left to ask is why do people give media such a hard time? Many bother to ask that question and never truly receive a definite answer. In order to work in the media, then one must have tough skin and an eagerness to work. However, the many hurdles that journalists, reporters, music critics, and others must face can become overwhelming.

Ruggieri explains her experience she has in the media profession and gives a few insightful tips to journalism students. She explains that it is important to make contacts and network with different people. “Even if it’s a job you don’t want to take, you never whose card you going to get, whose twitter you get, you want to make connections with people.” Constructive criticism is going to be apart of the media profession and one has to have tough skin, is quite cliche, but according to Ruggieri it’s essential. She gives an example of how she wrote a music review and ended up writing a better piece, because of the constructive criticism she received back from her mentor. She quotes, “The review I wrote last night on Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders, since Deb went with me, I did send it to her at two o’clock in the morning saying hey can you read this for me. She read it and had a better word choice. I’m not like oh I don’t like that I want it my way, I’m like no, she’s right.” Not only does one deal with the pressures of deadlines, making sure all dates and facts are correct, but it’s important to be able to withstand critique.

Ruggieri talks about her first opportunity at as a music critic/reporter and her gratitude towards her mentor Deb. She graduated with her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Florida International University, but before she became an alumni, she worked in the library. “ I was working in the library as a clerk. I took the job because it got me an introduction, but I also use to read the pop music critic who was the columnist for the Sun Sentinel and she was the person I wanted to emulate.” Ruggieri goes on to further explain how she continued to work in the library, until she got the courage to walk up to her future mentor Deb’s desk. “ I introduced myself and she was very kind and asked me what I wanted to do and I said I want to be you.” From then on, she went to concerts with her mentor and shadowed her around for some years and Ruggieri says it really immersed her in the world. “I got to meet promoters, I got to meet artists, I got to go to venues and how that whole thing works. I’m very fortunate to have found a mentor”, she says. Her big break happened during unfortunate circumstances, her mentor’s child became ill. However, Ruggieri was given the task to continue doing her mentor’s work in the meantime. She’s goes onto say that is not easy to become a music reporter and there is only between 40-50 nationwide. “Call it luck”, she says.

Ruggieri has been blessed with many opportunities of travelling the world and meeting profound musicians. She currently works with Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The Media Versus Gays

Throughout the history of news media the LGBTQ community has been slandered, stigmatized, and defamed. Organizations such as The National Gay Media Association and GLAAD (known formerly as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) have sought to protect the LGBTQ people in the media against the stereotypes, negative portrayals and defamation that society may often associate with being gay or lesbian. The LGBTQ people have had their fair share of problems concerning the media.

However, there were many men and women willing to stand up for justice and were simply tired of the negative depictions in news media. One of those men happen to be Ross Murray, the Programs Director of Global and U.S. South for GLAAD. When talking about the distorted and misrepresentation of LGBTQ people in news media and the film industry he quotes, “We came to solve the problem, it is a problem.” He and many of his colleagues are promoting not only media equally, but equality globally especially in national and international media. GLAAD’s advocacy is to aid the LGBTQ community and concoct a strategic plan for men and women to be portrayed appropriately in society and media.

He further goes on to talk about how these negative representations can affect children. When children watch violence against gays in the media, it can possibly instill fear of them wanting to come out or admitting to be gay/lesbian/or bisexual, long-term effect would be them suppressing their identity.

Looking through the course of media as a whole such as the film and television industry, there were very few gay characters if any in the 90s’, but that started to change by the year 2000.

Exposure to gay and lesbian communities had a positive impact among the youth. News media has a major influence on social change and has the power to correct stereotypes of LGBTQ people, yet we constantly see movies such as “Meet the Spartans”, “The Forty Year Old Virgin”, “Meet the Fockers” and the television show “The Big Bang Theory. These movies use offensive language like faggot, queer, gay in derogatory manner while normalizing these slurs. GLAAD’s organization was created to fight against bias like this. “Having HIV or Aids was known as the gay’s man disease in the 80’s” says Murray. GLAAD’s mission and purpose were designed to aid in defamation against gay men and women in the media.

However, media figures that are LBGQT and made their decision to come out has shined a positive light on the comfort of their identities and forced a space in news media. The influence of these media figures can be portrayed as positive and negative GLB media figures overall. One of my classmates were asked what would they like to see more of in the media in terms of its depictions of GLB characters and someone answered the reality of what gays face and the hardships they undergo.

Media and LGBTQ community have not always got along or seen eye to eye. There have been many cases and examples of interviews or news media outlets that have been unfair or unjust when it comes to the coverage of them. An example would be “conservative” Fox News, who some may say has anti-homosexual agendas. I think it’s best to question the media. Where is the diversity at in the news outlets? How many producers, writers, editors, directors or media specialists in news outlets are women, openly lesbian or gay or a minority? To represent a group equally, the must be different communities and a diverse number of members in news outlets. Does news media tend to hold certain groups of people to one standard while using a different

standard for other groups? An example would be gay men being stereotyped as overly promiscuous and justifying rape among them. News coverage usually fails to focus on the important factors giving a pass to prejudice. Coverage of hate speech against gays and lesbians often fails to mention increases in gay-bashing and how the two might be related. GLAAD organization somewhat acts as a mediator between media and the LGBTQ community.

“I simply encourage folks who has done work GLAAD to volunteer” says Ross Murray. Although, there continues to be bias and misrepresentation of gay men and women in news media and media as a whole, there has been a momentum of progression. In the case of the Media versus Gays, I find favor of the LGBTQ community.

Tia Berger is a senior currently enrolled  at Georgia State University. Her major is Journalism with a concentration in Media & Society. Follow Tia on Instagram @TiaCassan.

Feature Story: New Renaissance Era

Didn’t the Renaissance Era end in the 1700’s? Well according to Cyrus Speaks, the Renaissance Age is just beginning. The Renaissance Atlanta is a fresh, upbeat, contemporary yet modernistic event inviting all talents and gifts. “The Ren” is Christian based, but it welcomes anyone who is a follower or performer of the arts and is seeking to mingle with individuals who would rather listen to poetry than go partying on a Friday night. The different flairs staged are singers, actors/actresses, spoken-word artists, inspirational speakers, instrumentalists and acoustics. The Renaissance Atlanta occurs the second Friday of each month on the second level of the Epicenter in Austell, Georgia. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and close at 10:30 p.m., giving the audience more than enough time to enjoy each performance while meeting fellow originators. Since this event is Christian based, they require each person to donate a can good, blanket, or coat prior to entrance, yet the more donations the less the ticket cost. The regular fee is a seven-dollar cover charge at the door or a five-dollar cover charge including a donation listed above. Cyrus Speaks is the founder and creator of this event along with co-founder Winston Mayo and huge supportive team behind them.

When asked why they both decided to generate The Renaissance of Atlanta, Mr. Speaks conveys about the enormous amount of talent there is in the city of Atlanta and wanted to give a platform that would showcase each artist’s skills and gifts. Mr. Mayo added how this event is another alternative for Christians and others who still want to have fun and enjoy themselves on a Friday night have the opportunity and the pleasure of doing so without resorting to activities such as drinking, club-hopping, or an environment where they feel uncomfortable around. Cyrus says he is shocked by the turnout of the event and is amazed at how they are able to afford the rental space of the Epi Center where it is held. He says the donation each customer makes goes toward different charities, food banks and shelters, but the cover charge fees paid to get into “The Ren” goes toward the rental costs. One of the main reasons they are able to afford the necessities sustaining the event and making The Renaissance Atlanta possible.

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What makes “The Ren” stands out among other artistic events are their different approaches and techniques to emphasize the importance of the event and the productions of their artists. The first performer who blessed the stage concurs with this statement. Waneisha Spencer, 31 years old, an alumni of the University of South Florida performed for the first time at The Renaissance Atlanta stirring a big applause from the audience with her immaculate voice and powerful words. She also attends other creative events such as Poetic Collage, but says “The Ren” is different because she is allowed to share her poetry for ministry having an impact on the crowd and not for selfish gain. Another spoken-word artist who received a big uproar from the crowd is Nehemiah Grant, 26 years old, a regular attendee of “The Ren” says, “I love attending these events because of the good vibe and good energy.”

What all of these artists have in common are the love of God. Many of these gifted performers share the messages and the testimonies of Jesus Christ, helping others by sharing their life experiences, trials and tribulations giving all attribution to God and their Savior Christ. Yet, all people with different beliefs are still welcomed and will not be turned away. Their principle they live by is that everyone in the world is connected some way some how.

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