History Historical Badasses

How my great-aunt Wilma Rudolph changed the world

At five feet and eleven inches, I’m the tallest in my immediate family and it’s an aspect of my self-esteem that I constantly struggle with. But when I feel down about my lengthy stature, I remember where it comes from. 

In 1960, my 5’11” great-aunt, Wilma Rudolph, changed the world as the first woman in Olympian history to win three track-and-field gold medals in a single Olympic game. She was known as “the fastest woman in the world” and in 1983, she was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame

It wasn’t always gold medals and triumphs. Raised in poverty, Rudolph was born prematurely as the 20th child out of 22 siblings (yes, 22.) As a kid, she suffered from double pneumonia and scarlet fever that almost killed her, and (ironically, considering her career as a runner), had polio in her left leg that paralyzed her. Doctors told her that she would never be able to walk, and in her autobiography, Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph, she discussed feeling ashamed because of her disabilities.

Rudolph wrote that, when playing with other children, “some of them would start teasing me and calling me ‘cripple’… and they would try to make me cry.”

Through consistent physical therapy, support from her parents, and her unshakable Christian faith, Rudolph began playing basketball at school without a leg brace or an orthopedic shoe by the time she was thirteen years old. 

Despite her new ability to walk and play sports, she would still have to spend a lifetime experiencing racism and sexism. My great aunt grew up in the segregated South in Clarksville, Tennessee, where most of my family is from. She was often told to stop playing sports over the concern that her femininity was exclusive to being an athlete. 

“You couldn’t be a lady and a good athlete at the same time,” she wrote in her autobiography. “There was a lot of talk about ‘playing sports will give you muscles, and you’ll look just like a man.'” 

Thanks to her skills in basketball, Rudolph was scouted by Ed Temple to join the historically Black Tennessee State University’s (TSU) famous group of women runners, the Tigerbelles

The all-Black Tigerbelles weren’t afforded the same luxuries as other athletes. When traveling to competitions, the runners would have to pack their own meals because segregation laws prevented them from being served in restaurants. Instead of being allowed to ride buses, the entire team would often be stuffed into one or two cars.

Despite the constant racism and sexism, my great-aunt eventually qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games when she was only 16-years-old. She was the youngest member of the United States track-and-field team at the time. At her first Olympics, Rudolph’s speed won her a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay. Following her first win, she returned to Tennessee where she studied education at TSU and plunged into training for the next Olympics.

My great-aunt was one of the most popular athletes of her time. In the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, she won gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the relay. 

Many watched and celebrated her, as this was the first Olympics to ever be televised in America. In Italy, she was referred to as “La Gazella Nera” or in English “The Black Gazelle”. In French, she was praised as “La Perle Noire” or “The Black Pearl”. She was invited to meet the Pope at the Vatican and even met President John F. Kennedy. In 1963, she was selected to represent the U.S. State Department as a Goodwill Ambassador at the Games of Friendship in Senegal.

[Image description: Wilma Rudolph sitting next to President John F. Kennedy on a visit to the White House.] Via
[Image description: Wilma Rudolph sitting next to President John F. Kennedy on a visit to the White House.] Via
Her history-making journey doesn’t end here. When she returned back home to Clarksville, Rudolph refused to attend any celebrations that were segregated. This led to the town’s first non-segregated homecoming parade and banquet

Although she retired from track and field after breaking records, Rudolph later put her education degree to use and became a schoolteacher and running coach. She created a nonprofit organization that provided underprivileged youth athletes more opportunities, paving the way for Black pride in all career fields. Rudolph continued to make strides until 1994; she passed away from brain cancer at age 54 before I was born and had the chance to meet her.

Before she died, she wrote, “I would be very sad if I was only remembered as Wilma Rudolph, the great sprinter. To me, my legacy is to the youth of America to let them know they can be anything they want to be.”

Want to know more about Rudolph’s phenomenal legacy? Click here to read more about her life. 

I am so proud to be related to her. Although I didn’t use my long legs that I inherited from her for sports, I have definitely applied my great-aunt’s tenacity and perseverance as inspiration throughout my life. I look at my height as a reflection of her and am constantly reminded not to let adversity keep me from my dreams.

There is no doubt that Wilma Rudolph changed the world, and knowing that her spirit breathes within me only reminds me that one day, so too will I.

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Work Now + Beyond

Five starting tips to conquer the world of freelance writing

If you would have told me, the little girl who used to create her own magazines with construction paper, crayons, and staples, that publications would one day be paying for her words, she would have never believed you. Let alone the fact that she’d be freelance writing.

I had always heard of the term freelancing while in college as a journalism major, but I had never been taught the specifics of what it really meant or how to do it. In case you’re in that same boat, freelance writing can be defined as any compensated writing assignments that isn’t a staff position.

I had been afraid of it too because I’m a person who craves stability. But once I actually learned how to properly do it, I started to fall in love with this craft and managed to get my name in publications that I admire, for rates that I had once only dreamed of.

From my limited freelance experience, here are my top five tips that helped me find my start:

1. Start at smaller publications, but remember that the sky’s the limit

Whether it’s a byline in The New York Times or a byline at a new local magazine in your hometown, it’s still something that you can add to your portfolio and use in the future. There are plenty of publications with modest rates that can give you the confidence to pitch to bigger publications as you become more familiar with the editorial process. Don’t sell yourself short though! If you think a story could fit at a bigger publication, ask around for some advice on your pitch and send away to the appropriate editor.

2. Follow publications, editors, and journalists that you admire on Twitter and LinkedIn

There’s so much inspiration out in the world and social media is a great place to start. I’ve found that a good amount of editors put out calls for pitches through Twitter or post style guides for how they prefer to be pitched to.

When you see a lede that you resonate with or a writing style that inspires you, look into the publication that published it and the journalist who wrote it. They probably have more good content too that they promote on their social media. It’s been particularly beneficial for me to familiarize myself with publications that I may hope to write for to get a sense of their style. I’d also highly recommend subscribing to Sonia Weiser’s newsletter! It has editor’s pitch calls all put into one place and gives invaluable tips and resources.

3. Reach out and form connections with those doing what you aspire to do

Many journalists within the freelance community have been super nice and helpful. It’s a sort of camaraderie built on an understanding of where we’re all coming from. Freelancing is hard and it can be scary and unpredictable. Every freelance journalist knows this to be true and is likely to give advice or answer questions if you ask them.

4. Develop tough skin & be kind to yourself when rejection inevitably comes

All it takes is one person to say yes to get a byline, but until then you’re going to get a lot of nos. While rejection is never easy, it is a guarantee in this process. The key is to not let any rejected pitch stop you.

I once had a pitch rejected three times in a row from different editors before one approved of it for $500 – much higher than the other three publications’ rates. Also, it may be a good idea to ask the editor why it was denied. This is a great way to learn and move forward with some insight.

5. Know your worth and don’t back down

I have this awful habit of saying that I’m *just* a freelancer until someone once corrected me and said, “No, you are a freelancer and that’s powerful.”

They’re right too. Freelance writers are some of the coolest and headstrong people that I’ve ever met. It takes a lot of hard work and investment to do what you do so don’t ever sell yourself short. Sign contracts for your words with kill fees that will ensure some form of compensation should, for any reason, your story be killed.

Negotiate rates if you don’t feel comfortable with how much you’re getting paid. Hold editors and publications accountable with pay deadlines just like how they have expectations for you. We’re more than “just” freelancers and deserve respect.

I’m still learning my ways around freelance writing but have come so far from where I once was. As with anything, you’re bound to mess up and this craft can be frustrating at times. Take it easy and send another pitch, you never know who might just say yes.

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Music Pop Culture

25 new releases to save you from your musical drought this summer

Summer is usually a music-lover’s dream haven. It’s when we get new album releases each week, have endless concerts to attend, and when we can gaze upon outstanding music videos from some of our favorite artists.

Take last summer for example: We were blessed with Willow Smith’s self-titled album and Megan Thee Stallion’s FEVER mixtape among many other critically acclaimed masterpieces that are still receiving praise to this day. 

But as COVID-19 disrupted just about everything in the world, the music industry’s typical release cycle wasn’t exempt. Music festivals and award shows were canceled one by one and the future of music for the year looked bleak. And as we’re already many months in, it can be confirmed that this summer during quarantine has definitely felt like a music drought at times.

Despite it all though, some artists have released new projects to keep us all dancing and singing from home. Here are 25 female musicians with recent drops that are keeping this summer alive:

1. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas

On July 17, the Greek and Jamaican soul singer released her third self-titled album that candidly talks about growth within a failed relationship. Lianne La Havas’ sultry voice, vulnerable lyrics, and smooth jazzy tracks make for a cohesive album that’s perfect to listen to with a lit candle, facial, and tall glass of wine on those stormy summer days.

2. Hinds – The Prettiest Curse 

These four garage-rock musicians from Madrid, Spain are back and better than ever with their third album, The Prettiest Curse, released on June 5. Hinds has given us the ultimate soundtrack of the summer with their airy voices and catchy lyrics that almost anyone can relate to.

3. Aditi Ramesh – “Heal” (Single)

Mumbai, India’s Aditi Ramesh is changing the world with her soulful pipes one song at a time. Whether cooking and sharing recipes on her instagram or dropping new singles, Ramesh can not disappoint.

4. Dounia – DE-LOVE-USION

Love and the complexity of relationships aren’t new topics for Dounia, the North African activist who’s making waves in the music scene with her smooth rapping. She’s at it again in her latest two-song project titled ‘DE-LOVE-USION’ that was released on July 17 where she sings of secret crushes and falling hard in love.

5. Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

In her sophomore album titled Punisher released on June 18, the indie singer and California native sings about mental health and wellness. Her deep self-awareness shines through and challenges listeners to do the same. Bridgers has made something for us to cry to and dig deep introspectively for the summer.

6. Saweetie – “Tap In” (Single)

If there was ever a movement where I missed the outside parties and barbeques of the summer, it was definitely when I first heard Saweetie’s single “Tap In” on June 20. In it, she samples Too $hort’s iconic “Blow The Whistle” song from 2006 but completely makes it her own with her famous “Icy Girl” brand. Saweetie is on the road to success with this as a tease of what’s next to come in her next album to be released sometime soon called “Pretty Bitch Music.”

7. Empress of – I’m Your Empress Of 

With her name inspired by a tarot card reading, this bilingual Honduran singer is connecting to her roots in her third album called I’m Your Empress Of that was released on April 3. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Empress Of talks about old trauma and heartbreak with background audio from her own mom included in some songs.

8. UMI – Introspection 

UMI – which is the Japanese word for ocean – has always poured her heart into her music which was exactly what the world needed this year in her latest EP called Introspection that was released on June 21. The biracial singer who plays the piano, guitar, and ukulele blessed us with stunning visuals and songs to sing all summer long.

9. Jessie Reyez – Before Love Came to Kill Us

Jessie Reyez is a stand-out star this year in her debut album called Before Love Came to Kill that was released on March 27. The Colombian singer and songwriter has soulfully light pipes that you’re sure to remember. She delicately approaches conversations about sexual assault, mental health, and love in a summer record that’s nuanced and unique.

10. Ivy Sole – Bittersweet (Single)

Ivy Sole’s latest single is luxurious, sexy, and smooth which fits in perfectly to the North Carolina artist’s sultry discography. Each track from her is layered, multifaceted, and complex which is a direct reflection of her as a queer Black woman who grew up in strict churches. Sole doesn’t fit into one box musically or personally and it’s powerful and much needed in this day-and-age.

11. Tei Shi – Die 4 Ur Love

Nothing can come keep Tei Shi down. After a tumultuous year of switching music labels and having her tour cancelled due to COVID-19, the Columbian and Argentinian artist took life into her own hands and self-released her EP called Die 4 Ur Love on July 17. Consider this project an epic breakup letter to her old music label, old self, and old life. Tei Shi is not holding back.

12. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA

All eyes are on Rina Sawayama as she’s now finally dropped her highly anticipated debut album titled SAWAYAMA on July 2. The Japanese singer and model has given us timeless bops like ‘XS’ with a jaw-dropping music video that’s sure to be on repeat for the rest of the summer. While wearing her queer identity proudly on her sleeve, having a degree in politics from Cambridge University, and literally doing it all, Sawayama is an inspiration to us all.

13. Amber Mark – “My People” (Single)

Amber Mark is known for utilizing her platform to advocate for issues on race, mental health and gender. Her latest single called “My People” released on June 19 addresses the international civil rights discussions of 2020. As a well-traveled activist, her Jamaican roots shine through in her music for a nuanced conversation over gorgeous cultural accompaniment.

14. Teyana Taylor – Studio M and The Album

Actress, singer, dancer, choreographer, songwriter, and model Teyana Taylor gives the people not only what they want but what they need. In this crazy year, Taylor did just that with her two projects called The Album released on June 19 and Studio M released on June 30. She’s walked New York Fashion Week, starred in some of your favorite award-winning movies, and given us couple goals with her NBA player beau, Iman Shupert.

15. Beabadoobee – “Care” (Single)

Beabadoobee has embodied the teen angst that we all feel while being locked away in quarantine in her latest single titled “Care” released on July 14. The Filipina indie singer has announced her debut album which is soon to release called Fake It Flowers, and has given us all a sneak peak to it with this early 2000s and garage-rock sounding single.

16. Haim – Women in Music Pt. III

These three rockstars have yet again given the world confident and all too relatable music in their latest album titled Women in Music Pt. III that was released on June 26. The girls of Haim are blunt yet personable in this project while bearing all of the flaws that make them human and loved by fans.

17. Alina Baraz – It Was Divine

Alina Baraz has one of the silkiest and sensual voices in the game right now. Her album called It Was Devine that was released on April 24 conjures up all of those sensual feelings of the summer that are perfect for dancing in the mirror for no one else but yourself in a silk robe.

18. Ramya Pothuri – “Do You Care” (Single)

Ramya Pothuri is using her quarantine to put out one dreamy song after the next in Mumbai, India. In her recent single titled “Do You Care,” released on April 9, Pothuri lays her feelings out bluntly and spills everything that too many of us are afraid of talking about. On her instagram she tells fans to stay tuned for all the new music that she’s working to put out soon.

19. HAWA – the ONE

HAWA is probably one of my coolest music discoveries of the year. Born in Berlin to West African parents, she toured the world at age 11 as one of the youngest-ever composers for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Now she’s just released her debut album titled “the ONE” on March 5. With singles like “MY LOVE” and “GET FAMOUS,” HAWA is an up-and-coming standout artist for sure.

20. City Girls – City on Lock

The City Girls are are indestructible and will overcome just about anything that you throw in their way. These unstoppable messages that preach girl power have inspired an entire generation of go-getters and the girls’ latest album called City on Lock that was released on June 20 couldn’t have come at a better time.

21. Joy Crookes – Anyone But Me (Single) 

Joy Crookes speaks out about how music has helped with her depression over the years in a vulnerable tribute and a new single called “Anybody but Me” released on April 8. The South London raised Bengali singer has consistently put her soul into her art and has even been compared to classics like Amy Winehouse and Erykah Badu.

22. Bree Runway – “Damn Daniel” (Single) and “Apeshit” (Single)

Bree Runway is breaking down every stereotype that you may have previously had about Black women in the music industry. Her sound is at times punk, and other times pop or rap, and far from the genre-classifications that we oftentimes put Black women into. This London native is giving us award-worthy concerts and visually stunning music videos all from her home as the world quarantines. In her recently released single called “Apeshit,” she even got a nod from her inspiration Missy Elliot!

23. TWICE – More & More

The nine members of the South Korean girl group who found their start on a reality survival show are showing their unique and individual personalities that the world fell in love with once again in their latest album called More & More that was released on June 1. This KPOP favorite was missed by fans and made a comeback during the perfect time in this summer quarantine to lift our spirits.

24. Chloe x Halle – Ungodly Hour

These two Atlanta sisters are all grown up in their latest album titled Ungodly Hour that was released on June 3. With a mentor like Beyonce who gave the album two thumbs up, their ballads are nothing less than genius. Chloe x Halle have also gotten wildly creative by utilizing tennis courts and their home as the backdrop for music videos and concerts on their IG Live. I know I’ll be tuning into the next one.

25. Jhene Aiko – Chilombo

Singer/songwriter Jhene Aiko knows exactly how to conjure up complex feelings that are oftentimes juxtaposed within. In her third album titled Chilombo that was originally released on March 6, Aiko’s serene voice pairs perfectly with singing bowls and vibrational sounds. She sings of sensuality, love, and spirituality in a time most needed.

Of course, Taylor Swift also surprised the world with her album folklore which we at The Tempest absolutely loved too.

And the year isn’t over. Even though it may seem like we’re living amidst a musical drought at times during this COVID-19 summer, artists like Beyonce, Brandy, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande also have upcoming projects scheduled to be released this year. Stay tuned!

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Music Pop Culture

Flo Milli walks around like that b**** because… well, she is

This is Flo Milli’s world and we’re all just living in it.

If you haven’t heard of the 20-year-old rapper yet, she’s sure to come upon your radar soon because just about everyone is talking about the Mobile, Alabama native. Can you blame them though? 

In Milli’s debut album Ho, Why is you Here? released on July 24 with RCA Records, she’s commanded all eyes on her whether you like it or not. 

“This project is introducing a revamped newer me, a newer version of myself that I’m still discovering,” Milli said of the mixtape in an interview with RESPECT Mag. “This phase of me comes with an ego and an attitude. This is setting the tone for what I have to come in the future, I want everyone to feel the energy I’m coming with.”

And if singles like “Weak” and her viral “Beef FloMix” are just the beginning, then this young rapper has a prosperous path ahead of her as she’s already received high praises from The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR Music, and more. 

On her mixtape, Flo Milli has come with 12 no-feature tracks to display her confident personality and skillful bars that resemble the carefree attitude of her City Girl cosigners and a sound reminiscent to Rico Nasty.

“Bitch, I’m better, it ain’t up for debate / When you shine how I shine, you get a whole lot of hate,” she raps over a melody of low piano notes and bass on “Mood Everyday (Intro).”

Milli then progresses to explain why exactly she has this undebatable shine in songs like “Pockets Bigger” that describe her relationship with money and prosperity in ways that other people just don’t understand. 

Have we seen this narrative of being rich and better than everyone else before in the rap scene? Of course. But are we tired of it? Not even close. 

With the negative stereotypes and burdens thrown onto Black people that the community has aggressively tried to dismantle in 2020, it’s refreshing to see a young dark-skinned woman outwardly boast about wealth and luxury.

Although her content in Ho, Why is You Here isn’t the most innovative or groundbreaking, I’ll bat an eye and celebrate Milli’s big pockets. 

[Image Description: Flo Milli is lying on top of a car and money is dispersed across the ground. Flo Milli wears a long durag with a money design on it. Via
[Image Description: Flo Milli is lying on top of a car and money is dispersed across the ground. Flo Milli wears a long durag with a money design on it. Via
Regardless of her actual content, Milli’s skill cannot be ignored. In songs like “May I,” the 20-year-old’s talent is at the forefront where she displays her deep understanding of beat and melody. She continues her consistent personality-packed theme while using unpredictable flows that switch up over a beat inspired from Snoop Dogg’s 1994 song, “Gin and Juice.”

“I’m not your bestie, not your sis / I’m not the one, I am that bitch,” she raps. 

Her juxtaposition of politely asking to take your boyfriend out for the weekend is worth consideration with Milli’s skill and craft presented in “May I.” 

She also makes it clear that she isn’t to be messed with from men or from her haters. In songs like “Send the Addy,” she expresses that she’s in control of her body and isn’t afraid to leave any type of relationship because she’s got a long line of people waiting to take their place. 

“I don’t think he can handle it / I can’t let him post me on the Internet” she raps. “Keep that sh** on the low, I ain’t feelin’ that / Imma make him be quiet.”

And if Milli wants you to know anything, it’s that she’s proud of who she is and where she comes from. She confidently and constantly mentions her Alabama roots saying that Mobile girls are the “trillest.” She’s also proud of her young age and the accomplishments that she’s been able to achieve in such little time. Getting rich at 19 is a feat worth celebrating and Milli is sure to let you know loud and clear that she did just that.

So in her debut mixtape, Flo Milli has certainly made a name for herself while following in the footsteps and styles of other female rap geniuses.

Last year was our Hot Girl Summer, will this summer be Milli’s? With the raw tenacity that this 20-year-old has already given us in her very first project, I think the answer is clear.

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Editor's Picks Horoscopes Spilling The Zodiac Tea Love

It’s Leo season: Don’t get too carried away

Follow our Zodiac series for everything astrology related. We’re Spillin’ the Zodiac T! Stay tuned for the juice.

2020 has no doubt been full of surprises – some good, and others just outright weird. So as we shift from the water-ruled Cancer season that had us all pretty deep in our feelings, the bright sun in Leo is here to dry our tears with its bold and daring fire from July 22 to August 22. 

The good news is, in an exclusive interview with astrologer Ehime Ora, they tell me that there’s a lot to look forward to in this confident and action-packed month. 

“It’s going to be important to appreciate life and to show who you really are authentically,” Ora says. “If you’re thinking of starting a new hobby, it’s a good idea to start now.” 

Ora says that Mars will reside in Aries this Leo season, and will be for the rest of the year. Aries, which also is a fire sign like Leo, is aggressive and will make us want to be more active during this month the astrologer says.

“If you’re thinking of starting a new hobby, it’s a good idea to start now.” 

And with this active energy mixed with the sun in Leo’s boldness, we might see it manifesting within the bedroom. Ora says that another baby boom could be on the way this Leo season and more of us will be swiping on dating apps than before. 

Despite this, Ora warns the zodiac not to become too reckless and says that while getting it on, protection is still incredibly important even though the energy of this month might make us feel otherwise.

“Leo season is all about drama and we’ll see that unfold in many different ways,” Ora says. They predict one of these ways being seen within the entertainment industry with scandals that will likely come forward.

As for the specifics of what the four elements of the zodiac can expect, I interviewed astrologer Tess Lee, who stated that other fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) will experience a period of reckoning and coming clean during this month. They advise fire signs to be dynamic when making decisions. 

How much weirder can things possibly get in 2020, though?

“This is not a time where you want to hold back,” Lee advises. “You want to be transparent with the people around you. You want to tell your truth.”

But these commanding signs shouldn’t have a hard time being loud and expressing themselves.

For water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces), Lee says that positive gains are underway this month, but that they’ll have to put in the work and prepare for them themselves. 

“It’s about really making a plan for yourself,” they tell me. “It doesn’t have to be immediate, but Leo season is a good time to start thinking about the things that are going to happen throughout this year.”

Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) are in for movement and adaptation this month, Lee says. 

Fire is compatible with air energy and for that reason, Lee doesn’t see this being a hard month but says that they should expect a lot of changes. And although change may be uncomfortable for these three idealistic signs, Lee says that this will be a good time for growth. 

“Learning to adapt through changed circumstances will ultimately be a test of resiliency,” Lee says. “This is a time for them to move through issues of self-worth and appearance.” 

And Earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo) have a month of investigating their true desires and focusing on passions that they may have put aside. 

Lee tells me that these three tactical signs might benefit from questioning places within themselves that they may have been silent about or abandoned like their sexuality

Analyzing just about anything is in the Earth signs’ very being, though. Lee says that they should get creative and dig deep with these natural skills.

But although the zodiac and each element have many things to look forward to during this summer season, astrologer Courtney Lawrence, also known as The Bougie Psychic, says that there are certain things that we should avoid too.

She warns us all not to become too carried away with this month’s overconfidence and passionate energy. 

You may take risks that aren’t necessarily smart to take. Such as, feeling really awesome and doing a backflip into the pool…only to land yourself in the ER,” she says. “You’ve never done a backflip before. You were just excited for people to watch you. That was a dumb decision.”

Lawrence also says that the fire energy of the month will have us more moody and explosive than ever. With this notoriously angry sign, she says that expressing our thoughts and laying out how we feel is much needed for a smooth-sailing Leo season. 

And both astrologers Ora and Lee, unfortunately, foresee an uptick in COVID-19 cases for this month’s future. 

“In Cancer, we were okay being at home and being emotional, but Leo season is about acknowledgment and we really can’t be seen truly if we’re at home,” Ora says.

I, for one, have felt pretty restless myself while staying indoors during the pandemic’s quarantine and I know that I’m not alone. This feeling will only increase as Mars resides in Aries.

So in order to safely process this, Lawrence recommends that we embody creativity, utilize social media, and challenge ourselves to shine on our own without the need to show it off. 

“The sun doesn’t stop shining because it’s night time, we just can’t see it,” Lawrence says. “Learning how to self validate & not need others’ approval will help your sunshine grow bigger and brighter, and then, once quarantine lifts, you’ll be able to support your own shine even if other people find you to be too bright.” 

For Earth signs, get creative and dig deep with your natural skills.

As for a key date in the zodiac, The Bougie Psychic tells me that on August 3 there will be a full moon in Aquarius that will prompt societal reflection and an overall reality check on values. It will bring us back down from the self-absorbed cloud that Leo oftentimes puts us on and allow us to focus on others.

So yeah…there’s a lot going on for all of us, but no matter what element our sign is or where the planets are, each astrologer told me that we all have the tools to make this Leo season monumental.

If we play our cards right during this fiery month of activity, we’ll all be just fine.

A graphic design that displays three different cards. The two cards on the outside show the zodiac wheel. The card in the middle reads "LEO" on it with a lion tusk and sunbeams surrounding it. A banner that reads "HAPPY LEO SEASON" is displayed at the bottom of the picture. Graphic design by Aryanna Diaz
Graphic design by Aryanna Diaz

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Travel Life

Living abroad taught me that my expectations of life were unrealistic

I can’t tell you exactly when I promised myself that I’d travel and live abroad, because it was too early to remember. It was just something that I’d always known I’d eventually do. So when I was 19 years old, only a few months before COVID-19 hit, I moved to Madrid, Spain, and traveled around Europe for five months.

Because of my life-long conviction to live internationally, I had ample time to douse my dreams in unattainable and idealized expectations. I imagined that my time abroad would be perfect – I’d make all sorts of multicultural friends, change up my style, and pretty much live out the entire plot of the Lizzie Mcguire Movie and Monte Carlo.


While I will forever be grateful for my time in Europe for being exactly the way that it was, it was anything but my perfect pre-departure daydreams. It didn’t take long for me to realize this either.

Upon first moving to Spain, I became wildly depressed, and it clouded the ways in which I saw the world and interacted with other people. It’s probably not of any surprise that a debilitating crash of my mental health was not in any part of the plan. There are a lot of countries and experiences that I struggle to remember due to the fact that everything I saw was grey. I also (shockingly) didn’t become a pop star in Italy and sing in front of a large crowd in sparkly silver pants with Paolo, and I wasn’t invited to any yacht parties off of the coast of France.

I, instead, learned how to pivot emotionally when life didn’t go according to plan.

This is why I’m grateful. Of course, I would have loved to spend my days frolicking in the streets of Madrid rather than locking myself in my bedroom, but sometimes things change. Sometimes, for good reasons or no reason at all, you can’t find the energy to get out of bed or talk to anyone. The timing may have not been ideal, but it taught me something valuable and vital for the future.

Through the difficult process, while living and traveling Europe, I learned what it truly meant to be alone and how to be comfortable with that. I no longer had my circle of support from my university to rely on, and the time difference made it nearly impossible to call my family. Not to mention the fact that I was stared at by locals almost everywhere and treated as an outsider due to my “exotic” Black skin, which, incidentally, made finding new friends that much more difficult. I quickly learned that my international life would only be with me, myself, and I.

With this, I traveled to a different European country almost every weekend and made experiences of my own, which is something that no one can ever take away from me. It was just me and my suitcase in Zurich, Switzerland for one weekend and Milan, Italy the next. For five months, I existed within my own thoughts, which at times drove me absolutely insane, but ultimately helped me develop a strong sense of self.


When I returned back to university in the United States, I had to confront people who hadn’t been through the same sort of life-changing experience that I had while living in Spain. I had to re-examine every single relationship in my life – I’m still figuring out what all of them mean to me.

Living and studying abroad was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done, but it was necessary. I don’t even recognize the girl that I was before I embarked on that five-month journey. I’m still processing the lessons that I’ve learned from living abroad and the toll that it took on my mental health.

I don’t plan on doing it again anytime soon, but I’m grateful for the lessons that it taught me. I saw things and places that I’d dreamt about for years and was forced to have conversations within myself that changed me into the woman I am today.

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Culture Life

The divide within the African diaspora won’t get us anywhere

When I was in elementary school,  another Black student told me that she and her family were simply ‘African’ and not ‘African American’ because her ancestors had never been enslaved. If you thought I, a fellow Black woman, was confused at that moment, imagine how puzzled our predominantly white classmates, who had already mentally grouped this Black girl and me as the same person, were.

I initially failed to understand what this student meant by her separation between recent African immigrants and North American Black descendants of the enslaved. But as I learned more about our history, over time, I began to comprehend what she meant. Throughout my life, this discourse would come up again and again.

Although we look the same in everyone else’s eyes, there’s still an “otherness” in our history and culture that, oftentimes, separates us.

I’ve been told by recent African immigrants that because I am a descendant of slavery, my ancestors and I are weak, whereas Africans are stronger because they had the choice to come to this country. I’ve heard Black slave descendants use coded language when referring to Africans, saying things that allude to them being “unkempt” and “savage”. I’ve seen them question recent immigrants’ intelligence, talk down to them, or insult their beauty.

I’ve felt this divide within our community and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.


But recently, the world has experienced a global reckoning that criticizes the ways in which we approach race, culture, and ethnicity. Since the inhumane death of George Floyd on Memorial Day of this year, industries across all boards have had their historic dirty laundry with racism, colorism, and sexism aired out for the world to see as the public has assertively held them more accountable than ever.

With this, I’ve taken the time to truly question my nationality within this country, and have further understood the power of unity within the African diaspora through identification.

First, it’s important to understand where the ill-feelings between us comes from. The tension and animosity between Africans and descendants of the enslaved in North America are traced back to both group’s individual experiences with migration, slavery, and colonialism. 


The Atlantic slave trade stripped enslaved Africans of our culture and left us to recreate a completely new one, which many present-day Black Americans identify with. And whether we understand it or not, American Black culture today has strong and direct influences from slavery that those who were never enslaved in America may not be familiar with.

African empires and kingdoms have had their own relationships with slavery but with completely different meanings. Writers Daivi Rodima-Taylor and Zadi Zokou describe it as “local socio-cultural patterns of clientage and adoptive kinship rather than a large-scale commercial enterprise.”

Africa, which is the second-largest and oldest continent in the world, has many different unique cultures within it too. Like anywhere, Africa’s complicated history has similarly been processed into a unique modern-day culture that African Americans just may not understand.

Our cultural differences are at the forefront when associating with each other. On both ends, there’s an attitude of othering and criticizing.

And despite completing an ancestry test that told me exactly where in Africa my ancestors are from, I still am confused culturally as to where and who I should identify with. It feels like a bridge that will never be crossed and something that slavery has taken from me forever.

If I’ve learned anything from the recent reignition of civil rights discussion though, it’s that the diaspora’s otherness won’t make us any better as we exist in this country together. When looking at each other internally, we may notice our differences, but to anyone else, we are simply Black.

It isn’t the slave descendants’ fault that they were forced to assimilate. But it also shouldn’t be pushed upon recent African immigrants to assimilate if they do not choose to. There is no blame to be given to those of us that are non-consensual foreigners to this land. We shouldn’t side-eye each other because we are unfamiliar with each other’s culture.

There’s no easy solution and even I don’t have the answers to this age-old discourse in the slightest. But in this introspective time for the world, I’ve rethought my identity and nationality.

For myself, as an American descendant of the enslaved, I hope to only be referred to as Black. I’ve made this decision because of the danger and separation that I think the identification of ‘African American’ holds within our community.

When we separate African Americans from African immigrants, we, in a way, recognize slavery as the qualification to be a *true* Black American. But slavery is not the sole definition of what makes me who I am. It creates a false qualification that is unattainable for African immigrants. ‘African American’ also does not include the entirety of the diaspora. I think of the term as a way to further push this “otherness” narrative and it can separate us from the diversity within our community, rather than embracing it.

So no, the other classmate in my elementary school may not have identified herself as African American, but now I don’t either. I’m Black (with a capital ‘B’) whose ancestors came from Africa. Slavery may have reinterpreted my culture, but it does not define the legitimacy of myself as a Black woman in America.

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Race Inequality

We failed Oluwatoyin Salau and we still have to recognize it

Trigger Warning: Sexual assault, kidnapping, & murder

Black women are strong and Black women are relentless, but sometimes at the end of another day of working to protect and provide, Black women just need a hot shower and a safe place to lay their heads at night. 

This was the case for 19-year-old Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau who was a prominent activist and vocal in the fight against police brutality.

Whatever I do, I cannot stop thinking about her. I saw myself within her. I saw my friends within her. I will never forget Oluwatoyin Salau. 

She had fled from her abusive household and committed herself to the frontlines of Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrations. Salau had no place to call home and desperately needed help, but in the end a man from the same community in which she spent days protesting for raped and killed her.  

“Right now, our lives matter, Black lives matter,” Salau was heard saying in a viral video at a protest before her death. “We are doing this for our brothers and our sisters who got shot but we are doing this for every Black person.” 

According to the Tallahassee Police Department, Salau filed a sexual battery report and later explained her tragic story through a series of tweets on her Twitter account.

In it, Salau detailed how after a day of protesting she was in need of a ride to a nearby church in which she had recently found refuge in and that held her belongings. When a Black man “disguised as a man of God” offered to help her, Salau wrote that she “trusted the holy spirit to keep [her] safe.” On this night, Salau was sexually assaulted by this man, despite her explaining her history with abuse to him.

Salau was last heard from on June 6. Her friends and other activists spread her information on Twitter in hopes to locate the 19-year-old for days. 

On June 15, Salau was found murdered in 45-year-old Aaron Glee Jr’s home. Alongside her killed was also a  75-year-old AARP volunteer named Victoria Sims. Glee has since been charged and has confessed to both murders and kidnapping.  

Black women need protection too. Black women should not always have to be strong. 

Salau deserved safety. She was a 19-year-old girl who was failed after dedicating herself to her people. 

Her circumstance is not unique, though. Black women have been failed by a country that has waged war on us time and time again. Our fight will be continuous so long as there is oppression, disrespect, and neglect that is pressed upon our very lives, sometimes by those in our own community.

According to the American Psychological Association, one in five Black women are rape survivors and for each Black woman who reports a sexual assault, there are at least 15 others who will not report it. One in four Black girls will be sexually abused before they even turn 18. More than 20 percent of Black women are raped during their lifetimes which is significantly higher than other women. Black women are also two and a half times more likely to be murdered by men than their white counterparts. 

And, from these tragic realities, the only takeaway is that Black women are resilient – which we are – but instead, I think, the systems in place that make these numbers possible should be of core focus. We must spit on and destroy this institutionalized oppression forced upon us with the same swiftness that this society has when it degrades, fetishizes, and abuses Black women.

We must spit on and destroy this institutionalized oppression forced upon us with the same swiftness that this society has when it degrades, fetishizes, and abuses Black women.

Somehow through it all, this strength and pain that we’ve experienced and have had passed down onto us is weaponized into coded language that tells us to watch our tone. Somehow we’re just angry Black women. Somehow our femininity is ridiculed and slandered.

How can we scream from the rooftops that Black Lives Matter when in the same breath we allow Black women like Salau to blatantly cry out for help and go on to simply bat an eye?

Why do we need stories like Salau’s and Breonna Taylor’s and Natasha McKenna’s and Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells’ and Riah Milton’s to radicalize us and remind us that Black women matter too? 

How can we tackle white supremacy when colorism and patriarchy still fuel the murders and molestation within our own community?

How can we make a change when there are men who literally wear BLM T-shirts dumping Black women into dumpsters, laughing, and recording it for their followers to see in the midst of a civil rights revolution? Or when there are rappers consistently demeaning us and calling us “bitches” or saying to watch our tones when we express ourselves? How can we move forward? 

This bigoted country and the Black community failed Oluwatoyin Salau during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. There is blood on our hands. Recognize it. Process it. Say her name and don’t stop.

Activism The World Inequality

Your racist statues are not worth more than Black Lives

On Wednesday morning of June 10, the statue of a confederate leader named Jefferson Davis stood tall in Richmond, VA as it had been for the past 113 years. But that night, the bronze figure lay face front on the ground at the hands of Black Lives Matter protesters who tore it down.

Davis’ statue is one of many racist monuments across the world that have either been vandalized, pulled down, or beheaded by demonstrators, but this controversy isn’t new. Since the American civil war, activists have urged their governments to change the names or reconsider figures that commemorate controversial individuals from history.

We saw this in 2015 when a John Calhoun statue was demanded to be taken down, following the Charleston, SC mass murder that was intended to provoke a race war by a white supremacist. More than 100 statues were removed after the attack, but many more still stand throughout the world today.

In countries like England, the discourse around statues and symbols runs even further back as a country notorious for imperialism and colonialism. Activists have called for the removal of statues like Edward Colston who was a slave trader, Cecil Rhodes who was a white supremacist in apartheid, and many more.

Most recently, this age-old conversation of monument preservation has been reignited following the unjust death of George Floyd. And although we’ve heard this debate time and time again, the difference now is that Floyd protesters who fight for Black lives have taken the issue within their own hands, and are tearing down statues without the permission from governments that have failed them.

“I finally feel like people are hearing that we’re really serious about this,” international relations scholar Alyssa Bailey told me. “We’re standing together and finally saying that this is unacceptable.”

She isn’t wrong. Since recent Black Lives Matter protests, NASCAR banned confederate flags from any of their events and HBO Max removed the classic American movie “Gone With the Wind” due to its racist themes. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has even called for statues of confederate soldiers to be removed from the U.S. capitol.

The debate prevails, though, as some oppose getting rid of statues, claiming that it alters history.

Political science and government scholar, Summer Boyd disagrees. She told me that people are fully capable of understanding history without commemorating offensive figures.

“You don’t see statues in Germany that worship Hitler,” Boyd said. “Everyone understands the history of what happened in Nazi Germany yet they don’t need statues of him.”

Boyd is from Charleston, SC, and said that she constantly has to look at statues, establishments, and streets that are named after racists. She told me the disrespect that these figures represent runs much deeper than just an old slab of stone.

“Black people, especially in this town, have such trauma, and to be reminded of it all the time is a major issue,” she told me.

Not to mention, these figures say a lot about what the government is willing to allow and protect. It raises the question of how far we as a country have actually come if we’re still honoring slavery supporters who lost a war.

Communications, law, economics, and government scholar Fatmata Kamara told me that these types of people are not anyone to admire and that societies should be embarrassed about their legacy instead.

“Statues should be made for someone who’s had a great impact or someone that we should look up to,” she said. “We all know what these people symbolize so by giving them statues it’s honestly not the full story.”

Kamara said that even if some of these figures did have some sort of impact during their lives, the implications of promoting slavery and racism that many of them supported are more important to recognize.

“It’s a slap in the face,” she said. “What credit can I give to these statues other than them killing Black people?”

Although it is important to reflect on history and understand the implications of it, we can’t gloss over the ugly parts. For example, the celebrated Christopher Columbus was responsible for the enslavement, genocide, and mutilation of Native Americans. He also spread deadly diseases, was denounced from certain countries, among many other crimes during his life, but many of us only remember him as a hero who paved the way for the United States of America.

We have to look at these statues with the same eyes of these affected communities. We have to separate ourselves from the symbols that this country has been indoctrinated to worship, like the American flag and the national anthem. When we put such weight on symbols and stone that represent oppression for certain communities, we bat an eye at the evils they’ve historically endured.

Consider how disrespectful it is to have an 80-foot statue of a slave-owner in a town where the descendants of slaves are forced to look upon and pass by daily. Consider how disrespectful it is for Native Americans to live next to the face of the very man who murdered their ancestors.

So whether or not protesters take these racist figures down or governments call to have them removed themselves, it’s time. It’s been time.

Enough is enough.

Education The World

It’s never too early to teach your kids about racism

In 1944, George Stinney Jr. was the youngest person executed for a crime that, 70 years later, would be proven he didn’t commit. It took ten minutes to convict him. He was fourteen years old.

In 2012, Tamir Rice was fatally shot by police officers while playing in the park with a toy gun. He was twelve years old.

In the same year, Trayvon Martin was walking home from a gas station when he was shot to death by a neighborhood patrol member. He was seventeen years old.

This year, Gianna Floyd lost her father to a police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds after he tried to pay for items at a grocery store. Gianna is six years old.

After Floyd’s death, Nickelodeon, and many other networks at Viacom, paid tribute by going off-air for the same amount of time that Floyd was strangled for. Nickelodeon also released a statement that explained their support of the Black Lives Matter movement in what was titled the “Declaration of Kids’ Rights.”

The statement read: “You have the right to be seen, heard, and respected as a citizen of the world. You have the right to a world that is peaceful. You have the right to be treated with equality, regardless of the color of your skin. You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred. You have the right to an education that prepares you to run the world. You have the right to your opinions and feelings, even if others don’t agree with them.”

However, following the tribute, some parents expressed anger and disapproval on social media, claiming it was inappropriate for the children’s channel.

In a deleted Twitter post, from deleted user @geigtm wrote: “Ok, I’m PISSED! Why is this s*** just popping up on Nickelodeon while my kid is watching a show?!!!! My eight year old is scared to death!!! F*** YOU MEDIA!!! F*** YOU!!! U are DONE!”

Others on Twitter shared similar concerns for appropriateness following Nickelodeon’s statement.

But for many Black children in America, death, reality, and police brutality is systemically “pushed” onto us before we can even write or tie our shoes. Many kids are “scared to death” when people that look like them are murdered in cold blood on the television screen every day for doing some of the same innocent things that they do, like playing in the park or buying groceries.


According to the Economic Policy Institute, “Black children are more likely than white children to be exposed to frightening or threatening experiences” due to a variety of different systemic factors. This puts Black kids at higher risks to suffer from academic, health, and behavioral problems.

So why is it that some children and families get to opt-out? How come my mother had to prepare me for the racism that I’d inevitably face when I was only a child hoping to play? I’m sure that the kids of my second-grade class who solely referred to me as “Black girl” understood what racism was. Why were the other children afforded their own names? I’m almost positive that when they bullied me for being too dark, they knew exactly what they were doing.

Too many parents want to teach their kids a “color-blind” mentality. The reality for people of color, though, is that race isn’t something that can just be swept under the rug. Not when our country is still pungent from the racist remnants of Jim Crow, 9/11, and even the pandemic right now. When you say that you “don’t see color”, you also say that you don’t acknowledge oppression and issues like police brutality, although they ravage communities like my own. To be “color-blind” is to willingly choose ignorance.


There are many ways to appropriately approach these types of uncomfortable topics for nearly every age. In fact, experts even say that toddlers as young as two years old are ready to have age-appropriate conversations about race and racism. Children’s media has been recommended as a good way to help families navigate, and books like ‘A is for Activist‘ by Innosanto Nagara and graphic novels like ‘New Kid‘ by Jerry Craft are good places to start. And similar to Nickelodeon, other children’s programming like Sesame Street have recently included race into their show’s conversation as well. More resources can be found here.

It is never too early to speak to your children about racism. I’m sure that your kids are probably already well aware of it anyways. To deny your child conversations about race – or to lash out – because a corporation was mature enough to do so instead, serves you both a major disservice in the changing world that we live in today.

USA Race Policy Inequality

When it comes to activism, what is the true definition of silence?

Following the eruption of public outrage on social media which ensued after George Floyd‘s death, I took a break from my personal platforms, but I felt weak for doing so.

As a journalist and a Black woman, I believe that it is my job to consistently contribute to the current civil rights discussion in my country. But within a week I had seen one too many comments questioning the value of my people’s lives and I could no longer mentally take it anymore. It wasn’t the overabundance of police brutality videos or injustice that weighed on my mind either.

As sad as it is to say – I’ve already seen and experienced those types of things first-hand and I’m used to seeing content like that.

What I couldn’t handle, on the other hand, was the ignorance and hatred. I couldn’t bear to read rebuttals to the absolute fact that Black Lives Matter.

I took a break from my personal platforms, but I felt weak for doing so.

But as I logged off for a few days, phrases such as “silence is violence” haunted me. Was my temporary absence from social media silence? Was I supposed to push through and continue to speak out despite the toll it took on my mental health? I was still consuming the news. I was still reporting on my community. I was still speaking about the issue on webinars yet I wondered if, in a way, my inactivity on social media was wrong. I felt guilty. 

That’s the thing about silence during this time: There’s more than one definition to the term, considering the multidimensional social, political, and cultural curve balls being thrown at us daily.

 Eric Brock Jr., a 19-year-old activist, told me that he too felt pressure from social media to always post, but was taking time off to grieve from the traumatic state of the country. He said that from such pressure, he was compelled to write a disclaimer to his audience that clarified his inactivity. Silence to him runs deeper than consistent activity on social media platforms, especially for Black people. 

“The Black community is not a monolith and it never has been,” he said to me. “We express things in different ways and some people need time to heal.” 

Posting a black square means nothing if you aren’t actively fighting for change offline, too.

Brock says that he does understand how silence can be compliant towards racism for non-Black people though, especially when they have not stepped up their efforts offline in being an ally or contributed to the conversation at all. This becomes particularly dangerous when we see social media users engaging in performative activism online without doing the actual tactical work offline needed to make real change.

We saw this with Instagram’s ‘Blackout Tuesday‘ challenge which aimed to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement. Users posted black screens in an attempt to show their solidarity to the cause.

However, the challenge’s execution essentially drowned out necessary information from the movement and, in my opinion, was used as a performative way for some to show others how good of a person they are.

Posting a black square means nothing if you aren’t actively fighting for change offline, too. It also doesn’t somehow give you an advantage over someone else who may be supporting the movement in different ways than you expect them to. 

But with this in mind, astrologist Tyler Massias said to me that he does think that content outside of activism at the moment can be unsympathetic and distasteful. He said that non-Black people who don’t focus their platforms on the Black Lives Matter movement are practicing a privilege that isn’t afforded to Black people in America. 

“Throughout history, our [Black people’s] existence has always been viewed as subservient. We are always having to think about it and speak about it,” Massias told me. 

And activist Alexis Glasglow, a tireless protester in her Florida hometown, knows exactly what it means to dedicate all of her time both mentally and physically to the movement. She mentioned to me that seeing people’s inactivity on social media can be aggravating at times. 

We have to find things to smile about throughout the day and allow ourselves the time to grieve and heal. 

“You see people doing all of these things and then you also see people that you know, and who you can name, who haven’t said anything or even reached out to you,” she said to me. 

But while social media is a great place to start, it isn’t the only way to use your voice. Glasgow said that people can call out racism as they see it within their communities, attend demonstrations, and sign petitions just to name a few ways to get involved offline. 

As a country, we’re going through a lot right now and we can’t always realistically be our most vocal selves 100% of the time. The consistent exposure to Black death, Black trauma, ignorance, and racism weigh heavily on any average person along with a deadly pandemic that still affects the world too.

We have to take breaks occasionally. We have to find things to smile about throughout the day and allow ourselves the time to grieve and heal. 

Just as our stomachs need food to eat, our minds need care and attention as well in order to continue the Black Lives Matter movement and change the world.

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