Pop Culture

Travis Scott shows that fame and ethical responsibility go hand in hand

With great influence, currency and power come great responsibility. Compared to the average person, artists, musicians and actors do in fact have moral obligations towards their fans. For instance, Travis Scott and the mass casualty incident that occurred at Astroworld in November this year.

If you’ve been following Travis Scott throughout the year, you probably already know the broad strokes of the tragedy that occurred on the 8th of November, but here’s a quick introduction: the Astroworld festival was first held in 2018 at NRG Park in Houston. Scott was a huge fan of the amusement park (which closed in 2005) as it inspired his 2018 album. In addition, the festivals have been said to have a specific theme that is particular to Scott’s aesthetic. A merger of Marilyn Manson and Willy Wonka, rides, and swings along with magicians and dancers in full mirror suits. There was an intentional eeriness to it. A murky twist that made otherwise rides suitable for children, appropriate for Scott’s audience that is predominantly young adults.

The causes of this tragedy were entirely due to mundane negligence.

Since 2018, the festival has grown significantly. From 35 000 people attending then, to now 50 000 attendees, forcing the concert to become a two-day event. Back in May, it was said by several outlets that 100 000 tickets sold out in less than an hour. This brings into question what the real number of attendees was. It’s not surprising that 10 people were reported to have died and many injured when the crowd was compressed toward the stage at the  Astroworld concert. It’s more surprising that tragedies like this are not prevented.

Despite the outlandish and thankfully short-lived satanism conspiracy theories, the causes of this tragedy were entirely due to mundane negligence. When examining the principles of crowd management and what may have gone wrong at the festival, there are two things that stand out.  The crowd was plagued with disorderly and even violent elements. According to the Guardian, there was an operations plan in place however, it did not include protocols for a mass crowd outpour. When crowd management is properly adhered to, the staff can identify the characteristics and frequency of the crowd and respond in accordance with a prearranged strategy.

What was more alarming about the management of this event, was that there weren’t enough medics on duty. Those present were not adequately trained, making it almost impossible to walk through the crowds to people in need of help. While the industry requirement is to ensure that for every 250 people there is one crowd manager, there are strict guidelines as to what kind of training those managers must have. Some organizations even offer 15 to 30 minutes of online course training, which underlines the little to no regard the organizer’s had for the safety of the people who attend the event.

The tragedy that happened at the Astroworld concert could have been easily prevented had there been a careful and calculated plan

It’s been reported that Scott tried to stop the concert numerous times in an attempt to draw attention to audience members needing help from medics on duty but he was not aware of the severeness of what was going on. In as much as he may have attempted to stop the show, too many people lost their lives for Scott and his team to not have made responsible decisions.

Scott may say that he cares about his fans, but he has on many occasions has famously encouraged “raging” at his shows. Not only that but the musician does not institute age limits and openly markets himself to younger audiences. In 2017, he encouraged a fan to jump from a second-floor balcony during a show in New York City. It’s uncertain if the fan suffered any injuries, but this is just one of the many reckless acts he has initiated.

The tragedy that happened at the Astroworld concert could have been easily prevented had there been a careful and calculated plan regarding the availability of medics on duty, adequate training for medics and maybe a little compassion shown from Travis Scott and his team would have gone a long way. To be fair we could say that with all the blinding lights, hazy smoke, and an elevated platform, Scott could not have been able to grasp the severity of what was happening in the crowd.  But his crew and management team could. They were on the ground and bearing witness to the cries for help, suffocation, and gruesome scenes of many fans fighting for their lives. Even though Scott was on stage, we have seen many artists over the years pause their performance when a fan needs help or is in distress. In 2011 at London’s Hammersmith Apollo performance, the singer Adele paused the show when someone in the crowd fainted. It was only when medics arrived and the fan was taken care of did she proceed with the performance.

We have seen many artists over the years pause their performance when a fan needs help or is in distress

In the greater scheme of things, this conversation is not about the satanism conspiracy theories that have made their rounds on the internet or music or even unruly crowds. It is about professional responsibility of which Travis Scott is failing dismally at this. He may have a ‘cool’ job, but it comes with a great deal of responsibility and in this case safety and security. In the same way that traditional businesses must ensure that their building is safe to occupy, and offices aren’t fired hazards, artists have a moral, ethical, and legal responsibility to make sure their shows or events are safe for attendees. This is why his brief pauses during the show are not only to blame but were damning and ineffective.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Media Watch The World

Here’s what you need to know about Eritrea, the pinnacle of censorship in north-eastern Africa

The Tempest Exclusive series Media Watch investigates and introspects on the intricacies of free speech around the world, right from The Tempest newsroom.


Have you heard of Eritrea? It’s a small East African country on the coast of the Red Sea. Not many people are up to date on the current events within this unique nation, and that’s most likely a result of its strict censorship laws.

According to a 2019 list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Eritrea is ranked the world’s most censored country. Yes, that is even more so than widely known censored countries like North Korea or China! The CPJ is an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, based in New York City, with correspondents around the world.

Eritrea is ranked the world’s most censored country

The CPJ determines censorship rankings based on the following factors:

  • Restrictions of privately-owned or independent media
  • Defamation laws
  • Restrictions on the dissemination of false news
  • Internet and website access
  • Surveillance of journalists by authorities
  • License requirements for media
  • Targeted hacking

Evidently, there are many critical factors to consider when evaluating censorship in a country, most of which we take for granted in countries with press freedom laws. For this reason alone, Eritrea’s top ranking is a major cause for concern.

[Image description: President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, standing in front of a podium, 2002.] via Wikimedia Commons
[Image description: President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, standing in front of a podium, 2002.] via Wikimedia Commons
To understand the complete context of this worry, we need to rewind to September 18, 2001, when the Eritrean government shut down seven independent media outlets and imprisoned 10 journalists. They were punished for allegedly failing to comply with the country’s media licensing requirements. However, it’s widely believed that the decision was fueled by the end of the Eritrea-Ethiopia war in mid-2000. Although the war technically ended,  President Isaias Afwerki was on a mission to clamp down any political opposition and continue to fight Ethiopia for more border territories. This significant moment in history is known as “Black Tuesday” and it marks the beginning of a gruesome dictatorship in the country.

“Repressive governments use sophisticated digital censorship and surveillance alongside more traditional methods to silence independent media.” – CPJ

So, you might be wondering how Eritrea even got to this point. In the 1930s and ’40s, the country’s economy was stimulated by Italian colonial activity and the turbulent circumstances of World War II. After the war, the economy deflated and thousands of Eritreans were forced to start a new life in neighboring Ethiopia. By 1960, Ethiopia had annexed Eritrea, forcibly taking control of the country’s territories. This resulted in an armed struggle known as the Eritrean War of Independence, and it lasted almost 30 years. However, when tensions had seemingly calmed down and Eritrea gained independence in 1993, the two countries began fighting for control over a border town named Badme and other lucrative land. In 1998, another 20 years of violent conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea emerged, leaving Eritrean media a propaganda-filled mess.

Given these circumstances, 400 000 Eritreans fled the country in the past few years, causing the diaspora population to grow. There’s also an expanding network of Eritrean activists living outside the country. They collaborate with radio stations, online platforms, phone hotlines and undercover sources inside the country. One of their main goals is to find ways to circulate accurate news in Eritrea without the government cracking down on the operation. Most Eritreans have not been fooled by Afwerki’s propaganda and hope for a better life. As reported by Vice News, one in every 10 migrants headed to Europe are from Eritrea. 

The CPJ confirmed that most journalists in Eritrea who were jailed in 2001 remain behind bars today. To make matters worse, the government still controls most broadcast outlets and foreign radio signals are jammed. There isn’t even the option of browsing the internet as the country has the lowest rate of cellphone and computer ownership in the world. According to the U.N. International Telecommunication Union, less than 1% of Eritrea’s 5 million citizens have the necessary devices to go online.

[Image description: A group of Ethiopian soldiers in Mogolo, Eritrea, 2008.] via Wikimedia Commons
[Image description: A group of Ethiopian soldiers in Mogolo, Eritrea, 2008.] via Wikimedia Commons
As a result of the Eritrea-Ethiopia conflict, many journalists fled the country after President Afwerki’s new policies, and few have spoken out about their experiences. In an interview with Financial Times, Afwerki made it clear that he thinks most journalists are “a threat to national security.” He also believes they aren’t very professional or honest about where they get their information from, thus distorting the truth. Ultimately, his intentions are to promote nationalism in Eritrea and prevent citizens from immigrating. He wants the media to reflect positively on his government, thus feeling the need to control it at all costs. Since 2012, it’s been compulsory for Eritrean journalists to attend military drills and guard government offices. Today, there are no independent media outlets in Eritrea and citizens can’t legally leave the country from ages 9-51 without official permission. This makes it nearly impossible to get accurate news about Eritrea unless you consult foreign media outlets that are working with insiders.

Another notable act of censorship in the country included the government shutting down social media before Eritrea’s independence day celebrations on May 24, 2019. Clearly, the government is aware that citizens don’t feel independent and they would express their true feelings on social media if given the opportunity.

In my opinion, censorship in Eritrea is horrifying, especially in the 21st century when information should be at our fingertips. Freedom of press plays a vital role in keeping citizens informed and holding authorities accountable. If it ceases to exist, basic human rights could be dangerously overlooked to the point of no return. Journalists have been detained and even perished under the hands of the Eritrean government and this ill practice must be put to an end. Unfortunately, there aren’t many platforms for Eritreans to speak of the political and media-related injustices in their country. However, as outsiders looking in, we can do our very best to speak out on the matter and create a level of awareness that could potentially change the future of Eritrea.

Organizations that are doing incredible work to help Eritrea include the Norwegian Refugee Council, The America Team for Displaced Eritreans, and the Eritrean Development Foundation. Unfortunately, I couldn’t source a direct donation link to the grassroots campaign ‘Freedom Friday.‘  However, I highly encourage you to get involved and make donations where possible. 


Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

History Poetry Forgotten History Lost in History

You probably don’t know about Hettie Jones, a crusading Beat poet

You’ve heard of a Jack Kerouac, but have you ever heard of a Hettie Jones?

The Beat Literary Movement of the 1950s is coined for its explicit subject matter and bohemian lifestyle. Americans in the 1950’s lived in largely suburban towns and felt threatened by things like communism. Men went to work in suits and women stayed home to cook, clean, and tend to the children.

The rebel, beatnik, group of authors that made up the Beat Generation were iconoclastic. Much of their work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. They experimented with form and structure while writing about sex, drugs, and religion. Traditional literary houses rejected them and looked down on them as a group as being defiant, untalented, and unprofessional. 

I think that their being unconventional was the whole point, though.

They were the antithesis of mainstream American life.

They wanted to publish anything that was deemed inappropriate by society. These people were tired of the routine, and frankly, felt beaten down by the conservative lifestyle that they were stuck in. They were highly controversial in that they were the antithesis of mainstream American life and writing. Many of their works of poetry and prose focused on shifts of consciousness and escaping “squareness.” The stereotype around the Beats is that they were not in favor of what they considered to be straight jobs. Instead, they lived together, packed into small and dirty apartments, sold drugs, had sex with each other, and committed crimes. They are also known for exploring homosexuality, which was a highly taboo topic in 1950’s America.

Though they set many precedents together, the Beats still succumbed to the blatant sexism of the time. Most, if not all, of the women involved in the Beat literary movement were overshadowed by their male counterparts for no particular reason other than gender. These women were just as intelligent and qualified to question society as the beatnik men who have become well-known poets and activists.

Search and buy domains from Namecheap. Lowest prices!

One of the most iconic, and downplayed, female poets of that time who deserves righted acknowledgment is Hettie Jones. 

Hettie Jones published 23 books- and yet, we forgot her

Hettie Jones is most known for her marriage to the famous Beat Poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Few people know that Hettie helped run Totem Press, one of the more important beat publishers, along with her husband. She went on to publish about 23 books, one being a memoir of her time spent with Amiri and the rest of the Beats titled, How I Became Hettie Jones (1990). She has also written for many prestigious journals, lectured writing across America, and began the literary magazine “Yugen.”

Hettie is one of my favorite poets, so I think that her writing deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement, right there with the boys who got so much praise for their work. 

Hettie’s writing is rooted in practical idealism. She left her family home in Long Island to go to college and to fully discover herself. When she graduated in 1955, she never turned back, and moved to New York City. She met Amiri while working at The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was a young, black poet with just as much intelligence and intensity as Hettie. They quickly fell in love and moved in together. They would go to poetry readings at cafes and bohemian bars, where they met many of the other Beat poets.

Hettie deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement.

When the pair founded their own magazine, they published the writings of many of the iconic beat players who could not find a home for their writing in the traditional sphere. Hettie was in charge of editing the works that were to be published in the magazine. It was here that she honed her craft and found power in the refined writing that makes her work stand out from the rest. 

By 1960, Hettie and Amiri had two children, were married, and lived in New York City. Being a biracial family, though, countless bigoted remarks were directed towards them regardless of the Beat scene. Hettie was on the receiving end of most of these cold stares and was able to see the world through the eyes of her husband and children. This affected her incredibly and eventually became a recurring theme in her writing.  

When Amiri became tightly involved with the Black Power movement, he was criticized for having a white wife. They divorced in 1968. Hettie thrived on her own though and made a living with her children while teaching and editing. Her separation from her husband also gave Hettie an outlet to speak up and finally publish works of her own. She has been quoted to say, “Without a him in the house, there was more space/time for her, and I tried to redefine the way a woman might use it.” 

To this day, Hettie’s writing is compassionate. She writes about her own experiences in a compelling manner while weaving in the issues that she cares about. Currently, Hettie lives in New York City, and is a writer and lecturer. In addition, she runs a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women where she recently published a volume of writing by incarcerated women.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

LGBTQIA+ History Coronavirus The World

50 years later, the legacy of Pride lives on

The New York City Pride parade has been cancelled for the first time since its origin 50 years ago. In-person events that were scheduled to take place June 14-28, 2020 are in the process of being reimagined virtually as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pride is a staple in New York City, as it has been since the Stonewall Riots prompted a revolution in June of 1969. The fight for gay-rights as we know it was born and catalyzed here. America in the 1960’s, and in the decades that came before it, was not at all welcoming for those in LGBTQIA+ community. In New York, any inclination of sexual activity between people of the same sex in public was considered illegal. That is, hand holding, kissing, or even dancing. This antiquated and ridiculous law was not overturned until 1980 when the People v. Ronald Onofre case was decided. 

These times were also riddled with discrimination and a series of raids among other forms of abuse on prominent gay bars and clubs in Greenwich village. Such spaces were some of the only places where members of the community could seek refuge and were finally able to express themselves openly without worry. Nonetheless, police brutality on the basis of sexual orientation and just plain bigotry was awfully common during these raids.  

On the night of June 28, 1969 obvious tensions arose between the two groups, and the patrons bravely decided to fight back against the police at the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar that was one of the few of its kind that opened its doors to drag queens. Notably, the first bottle of the uprising, which lasted six whole days, was thrown by a Black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson. The protesters were met time and time again with tear-gas and physical altercations with the police, but they persisted. Those in the street are said to have been singing slogans similar to the ones that we hear today like “gay power” and “we shall overcome.” 

It would be an injustice to ignore the contributions of the Black community to this iconic moment that started a resistance.

This moment sparked the beginning of a modern resistance that is beautifully laced with love and versatility. 

It would be an injustice, however, to ignore the coincidences of this past that align with the current civil rights demonstrations happening across the world, declaring defiantly that Black lives matter. Both movements continue to feature a spotlight on recognizing basic human rights while also condemning police practices that terrorize the communities they are meant “to serve and protect.” So much of American history is patterned with this same struggle, consistency, and perseverance. Not to mention that it was, in fact, Black women who spearheaded this revolution 51 years ago, and 51 years later Black women are again at the forefront of a movement seeking to eradicate systemic inequality. We must not let this go unnoticed.

The year after what has come to be known as the Stonewall riots, June of 1970, marked the first ever Pride parade in New York City. Though it took a long time to come, the LGBTQIA+ community has certainly overcome much of the hate and marginalization that has been thrown its way. But, they’re still fighting. To this day, new non-discrimination protections are being fought for and passed all because of their constant effort and strength. 

Since then, New York City and its Pride parade has been a proven safe-haven for vulnerable and battered communities alike. It is a time for people to come together and celebrate themselves as phoenixes who have risen way above the ashes while also acknowledging the slashed history that they are eternally attached to. 

Just last year, New York City hosted world WorldPride and some 2 million people were in attendance. This in and of itself is a testament to the impact that the revolution has had, and continues to have, all over the world. Such ever-clear and unrelenting perseverance is nothing less of an inspiration. 

Today, as the coronavirus runs its raging course throughout the United States, New York City has been noticeably hit the hardest. With nearly 212,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths thus far in the City alone, New Yorkers are being urged to remain full of the hope and drive that makes us so thick-skinned in the first place. But, this is not an easy feat, especially given the turmoil that seems to be slowly encapsulating every bit of our daily lives. Once again, we have set out in a movement that looks to challenge history and change it for good. For the LGBTQIA+ community, that anxiety is heightened tremendously. 

The absence of the iconic Pride parade will certainly have a dramatic financial impact on the people and businesses that have come to rely on it. Not to mention the mental toll that will surely come along without a break from mobilizing, resource, or strategy efforts concerning the ongoing, and seemingly never-ending, fight for equal rights. It is certainly an all-hands-on-deck sort of thing. This fight is fought every single day, with the smallest actions sometimes making the most noise, and none of it should go unnoticed. 

The contributions that the LGBTQIA+ community has made to both the City and to the greater struggle for equality are undeniable. So, the decision to cancel Pride this year was not easy. But, it was definitely necessary. However, just because the pandemic prevents us from physically coming together this year, it does not mean that the spirit of Pride in New York City won’t be felt just the same.

An online Global Pride will be broadcasted for 24-hours straight on June 27, starting in the east and moving west. Each local or participating pride chapter is hoped to have an allotment of 15-minutes of airtime each, depending on individual time zones, for performances and speeches by grand marshals. This is a community that has always come together in the face of adversity and this year is no different. My wish is for this to be yet another example of the LGBTQIA+ communities resilience that should be honored and remembered, especially in a context of human rights.

USA LGBTQIA+ Gender Inequality

The fight continues as transgender issues make headlines

It’s not unusual for an issue to lose steam once it reaches peak visibility. If everyone is aware of an issue, it can be vague as to what the group is fighting for. When issues gain popularity, brands will often capitalize on the emotions of those who are fighting for their rights. While capitalism sinks its teeth into an issue, movements become accessories instead of rally cries. As transgender issues come to the forefront of the media, it’s important to remember that it’s still the time to fight. Now is not the time to ease the pressure.

In early September, the Marco Marco runway show during New York City Fashion Week featured a line of 34 unique transgender models. The models, both male and women, were of all races and showed the industry that transgender people have a place at the table.

Many people at the show were using the hashtag #TransisBeautiful, which was made popular several years ago by actress and activist Laverne Cox. Cox has become a representative of the transgender movement by using her platform on the show Orange is the New Black to drive visibility to trans issues and to call for inclusion in the media.

Since then, there’s been a firestorm of exposure. From Vanity Fair to Playboy, Hollywood has made it clear that they want their piece of the rich culture, personality, and experience that trans people have to offer.

However, the plight of transgender people has not improved with the increased exposure. In fact, 2018 may be the most deadly year for transgender people yet. In 2017, the Human Rights Campaign published that 29 transgender people were murdered.

As of September 2018, there have already been 22.

While Hollywood wants a piece of the trans-media prize, they have been relatively silent about the mounting death rates. Instead, as many outlets cry for more inclusion, and more acceptance, they try to minimize the cases of exclusion. Hollywood still regularly casts cisgender actors in transgender roles. The distance shows that while Hollywood is happy to allow trans people to have a seat at the table, they prefer it to be the kid’s table.

While there are many communities that are safe for transgender people, there are still many that aren’t. For every New York City Fashion Week, there is a town that is not safe for people to live their truth.

We have to ask what is the cause of trans violence, and what we can do to stop it.

In recent history, there have been several pieces of legislation passed that create unsafe spaces for trans people. In many cases, even going to the bathroom can be cause for conflict, and result in a trans person being outed.

Being outed is a violation of privacy, but also a violation in the anonymity that many trans people use to keep themselves safe from transphobic rhetoric and violence.

Many transgender people of color also live in poverty, which reduces their access to shelter and proper identification. These are critical resources that can save a person’s life. When trans people lack identification with the correct gender, they can be outed in public. Further, without a safe place to retreat, they can become the focus of anti-LGBTQ+ violence.

The intersection of transgender issues and poverty underscores the fact that trans issues are human rights issues. If there are no proper resources for people to escape violence, it will undoubtedly continue.

Another aspect of rising trans violence lies in how the current administration rewards anti-transgender views.  The Trump administration has shown a pattern committed to erasing trans people from existence.

In October of this year, the New York Times reported that the Department of Health and Human Services is attempting to define gender in relation to sex, as either male or female, and unchangeable. This seeks to erase the concept of transgender people entirely and disenfranchise from the tapestry of America. The policy aims to change how sex is enforced under Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.

So far, this administration has already rolled back Title IX protections of trans people in schools, prisons, and homeless shelters.

This proposed definition would wipe out any hope for trans protection under the law. It would re-open an opportunity for discrimination, and only enable those who seek to erase trans people from the planet, not just in the definition.

If people of power who are responsible for the safety of trans people are not held accountable, then the trend of trans violence will continue to grow. We have to remember that while catwalks in New York City are a step in the right direction, this movement does not stop at the end of the runway.  It keeps marching until every town is safe.

Gender & Identity Life Interviews

9 questions with Aisha al-Adawiya, the revolutionary changing the world for Muslim women

In today’s social climate, it’s important for young girls and women to know that they have role models doing meaningful work in their communities. So, I sat down with one of my favorite lady leaders,  Aisha al-Adawiya to give you a glimpse into her work.

Aisha al-Adawiya, or Sister Aisha, as she’s fondly called by almost everyone who knows her, is a community powerhouse. For years, she has been a pillar of motivation and grace in the human rights movement. She is the founder and chair of Women in Islam Inc., a Muslim women’s human rights organization, based in New York City. She founded Women in Islam in response to the rape atrocities committed against Bosnian women, when she found Muslim women were not given a platform to participate in the discussion. Women in Islam Inc. empowers women spiritually and intellectually to be active members of civil society. Sister Aisha is also on staff at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a New York Public Library in Harlem, New York City.

Sister Aisha sat down with The Tempest to talk about her life, her work, and her motivations.

1- Can you remember the first time you recognized you had a different racial identity than the norm?

I think I felt that as a young girl, maybe entering my teens. I would begin to challenge things around me based on bigotry and felt compelled to speak to that, even as a young girl growing up in the South.

2- In one sentence, can you describe the impact of your work?

Hopefully, the impact of my work – which I hope touches many different aspects of my own life, who I am, and how I choose to navigate in the world – makes a difference, a positive difference, and really encourages, inspires, and even challenges young Muslim women to delve into the religious Islamic sciences so that they can become future leaders grounded in authentic knowledge about Islam.

3- Can you tell us about the necessity of your work?

The necessity of my work is that we need Muslim women – that I’ve just described – to have a platform so that they can carry out the work put before them. We provide a platform so they can do that.

4- What is your favorite song at the moment?

I’ve been listening to Alice Coltrane “Journey in Satchidananda,” which is amazing. I’ve also been listening to a man named Omar Sosa. Those are the two that are kind of resonating with me right now.

5- What about yourself are you most proud of?

Wow! That’s a very hard question, I don’t think I can answer that one because I’m not proud of myself – I like myself – [laughs], and I continue to strive to be the kind of person that I would like to be. But that’s an ongoing process and I don’t think that’s ever complete until the time that we die, so there is a striving always.

6- Where do you get your news? 

Various sources, because of the work that I do. I’m connected to a lot of different networks and I get information through those networks as well as social media. Occasionally, I watch the news on television, which is mostly entertainment, so I’ll go for the comics to see what they have distilled for the day. But basically, I rely on my networks and we discuss emerging challenges that are coming out every day and I tend to rely on that information more than others.

7- What is one book that has been particularly transformative in your lifetime?

Well, certainly the autobiography of Malcolm X. I would also say the Qur’an – I’d probably have to put that at the top of the list because that’s been a guiding force for me.

8- Can you describe yourself in one word?


9- Where are you going next?

Insha’Allah, I am now entering a phase of my life where I’m feeling more and more encouraged to write about my life experiences, my journey. So, that’s where I’m going now. I’m also looking very heavily at the transition to being the kind of leader of my organization to hand over those reins to young women like yourself.

So now I think I’m entering a phase where I’m not only feeling more encouraged to write, but I’m feeling more inclined.

This piece has been edited for length and clarity. Follow Sister Aisha al-Adawiya on Twitter.

Tips & Tricks Food & Drinks Life

6 badass women who are revolutionizing the wine world

So I’ll admit wine hasn’t exactly had a cool, feminist image but its time for that to change. There’s still a pervasive idea outside the wine and food world that being into wine is something reserved for crotchety old white men who collect ancient bottles of Bordeaux, but the culture of wine has changed rapidly and young women are at the forefront of that movement.

The same things that make the slow food movement appealing have allowed wine to have a resurgence. millennials are discovering wines that are handmade and sustainably farmed. These wines are the heirs to a long history of making a beverage that’s as delicious as it is steeped in tradition.  It’s time that the awe-inspiring stories of wine are made accessible to everyone. These women are paving the way as visible examples of women succeeding in the wine world, but also by democratizing wine education with accessible, hilarious and honest resources and by shaking up how great wine gets to the people who want to drink it.

1. Whitney Adams

[Image Description: Gif shows Whitney in a t-shirt that says “Champagne Campaign” drinking a glass of wine with a straw.]
Whitney Adams is an actor, podcast host and former sommelier based in L.A. Her first podcast, The Crush (which ended in 2013), is still one of the best resources for anyone interested in learning about the cool side of wine without the pretension of traditional wine media nor the patronizing tone of people who “cater” to the uninitiated. Even though I’ve had to say farewell to her podcast, she continues to make videos on her Youtube channel, pairing wine with everything from weed and Cheetos as well as going over the basics of varietals, wine labels and how she became a sommelier. You can keep up with Whitney on Instagram and Twitter.

2. Talia Baiocchi

[Image Description: A gif that shows Talia, a brown haired woman in glasses walking through shelves of wine.]
Talia Baiocchi is one of the most influential voices in wine today. She approaches wine and spirits journalism with intellectual curiosity instead of reverence and that has really set her apart from other writers.  She jumped into the wine world with no training immediately after college and has developed a voice that has inspired a generation of wine writers, myself included. She’s written books on Sherry and the classic Italian sparkling wine cocktail- Spritz. Talia is now editor-in-chief of the website Punch, a funny, informative source on all things wine and spirits. Check out Talia on Twitter and Instagram.

3. Marissa A. Ross

[Image Description: Gif shows Marissa and actress Mindy Kaling sitting on a couch examining glasses of red wine.]
Marissa A. Ross is the wine world’s version of your best friend’s very cool older sister. She has a way of talking about wine that just grabs you and makes you want a drink of the wine she’s talking about like, now. She’s wholly unconcerned with using the “insider” wine-tasting vocabulary that’s been trotted out through the ages, she uses language and references that are immediately understandable.  This pretty much sums up how Marissa talks about wine on her blog:

“Grolleau is only AOC approved to be used in rosé.  And you know what I have to say about that? LET GROLLEAU LIVE ITS GOD DAMN LIFE! I want to take Grolleau aside like a young girl, grab her shoulders and tell her that she doesn’t have to be a rosé just because some old French men say she has to. Grolleau has so much potential, and can be anything she wants to be– a red wine or even president!”

She also puts all wine she reviews through the “Ross test” which is a taste test drunk straight from the bottle.  It’s a wink and a nod to the breadth of ways we interact with wine from solo cups to crystal and yeah, sometimes standing in front of the fridge after a long day at work with a bottle of Beaujolais in one hand and a string cheese in the other. Marissa is a wine editor at Bon Appetit and her first book, “Wine. All the time.” is out now. Do yourself a favor and follow Marissa on Twitter and Instagram it’s a good time.

4. Sunaina Sethi

[Image Description: Gif shows Sunaina smelling a glass of white wine, looking up and smiling.]
Sunaina Sethi first discovered wine while working in finance in Frankfurt, Germany and after falling in love with German wines she left her career in finance and returned home to London to become involved in the restaurant and wine world. She’s since become a sommelier and is the wine buyer, owner and operations director for the JKS restaurant group which she runs with her brothers. JKS which includes some of London’s trendiest eateries including Trishna, Bubbledogs, Gymkhana, Lyles, and Bao.

Sunaina is total behind the scenes wine #bosslady.

5. Madeline Puckette

[Image Description: Gif shows Madeline swirling a glass of wine, then opening her mouth in a playfully mimicking shouting.]
Madeline Puckette is the co-founder and author of the indispensable wine reference, Wine Folly.  She combined her training as a graphic designer with her love for wine to produce infographics that break down wine regions, tasting notes and history. Madeline is opposite to the dense, unapproachable culture of wine that has dominated for past decades.

Her book and website of infographics are a perfect quick reference so you can learn your stuff and get back to enjoying your wine. Follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

6. Ruth Spivey

[Image Description: Gif shows Ruth swirling a glass of wine and gesturing as she speaks.]
Ruth Spivey is a sommelier who’s shaking up the way people buy wine. The reality is that as much as seasoned wine enthusiasts trust and love their local wine shops, they can be intimidating. Ruth is tackling that with the Wine Car Boot sale in which debuted in 2013 and is similar to a flea market where people sell out of the back of their cars, but with wine selections from independent shops instead. The informality helps break down the intimidation factor that can keep newcomers from entering a wine shop. This year, Ruth will be a judge at the Decanter World Wine Awards. Check out her Instagram and Twitter and follow @winecarboot for updates.

What astounds me as I write this is that there are just so many incredible women who are smashing the status quo in wine. Choosing just a few was tough. Women-run wine shops, wine bars, and wine media abound and that wasn’t the case until fairly recently. I believe in the power of this representation and openness and I’m confident that the future of the industry will be more inclusive, diverse, younger and more femme than it’s ever been before.

TV Shows Pop Culture

“Broad City” is everything New York City is – and you’ll never find anything better

I had a bit of a rough summer. Graduating from college and trying to find my first legit journalism job is already hard but doing it in New York City is exceptionally tough. However, Broad City was always there for me because it gave me something to look forward to all summer.

After binge-watching all three seasons on Hulu without realizing it, one theme immediately struck me.

Colorful broad city logo.

I moved to New York City from Texas about four years ago to attend school. I’m aware that in “New Yorker years,” this is not long. But I still feel a strong connection to NYC. Living here made me realize just how inaccurate sitcom portrayals of New York City really are.

Just to name a few: Friends, How I Met Your Mother, and ugh last but not least, The Great Gatsby. I cannot stand how these shows romanticize New York like Scott Fitzgerald clones.

First of all, why does everyone always live in Manhattan? Literally always in the same neighborhood, or within walking distance! There are FIVE boroughs. Plus, most people who work in New York City commute from somewhere else in the Tri-State area. Just dropping some knowledge on you sitcom writers.

broad city ilana

On top of that, all these characters not only manage to afford rent in Manhattan but also have insanely nice apartments while claiming to be “broke.”  Meanwhile, my Upper West Side-dwelling is on the fifth floor with no elevator in sight. No doorman or security of any kind other than the front door buzzer. My street is loud at all hours of the night. My living room, dining room, laundry room, and kitchen are all the same room. My bedroom can only fit a twin sized bed and surprise, I still can only barely afford it.

And I love it.

Because that is the NYC lifestyle I crave to live, as crazy as it may sound. This is the real New York, grimy and cramped. I feel like I need to pay my dues here in order to be successful, as so many have before me.

broad city

This is the New York I always see in Broad City. Of course, it is cultured, amazing, even magical at times. But it is also gross. Trash is everywhere, which means rats are everywhere.

Random people puke near you, on you, really pretty much anywhere.

Roommates are awful, but a necessity to afford rent. Someone will definitely try to steal your bike if you leave it unattended – even if you have a lock on it. Performers will dance on subway poles and eventually,  you will get kicked. Speaking from experience.

The show also addresses the gentrification that has ravaged certain areas since the start of the century.

(You know the neighborhood is toast when you see a Whole Foods pop up).

Ilana Glazur in Broad City.

As I kept watching, I noticed a similar observation can be applied to the leading ladies – best friends Abbi and Ilana. I find both stunning, but not in a conventional way.

Like New York, they are a little dirty. We see them puke from drinking too much, struggle to scrounge up cash for rent, and awkwardly stumble through conversations with their crushes. We even see them Skyping each other on the toilet. They talk about things like pooping and getting hair stuck in your butt crack with no shame. This is how women act when they are comfortable with each other. But rarely do you see them behave this way on TV.

broad city season 4

Just as the show accurately portrays the griminess of the city, it allows their female leads to be unapologetically nasty as well.

So cheers to another successful season of keeping it real with, Broad City.

Science Now + Beyond

Period products you need in your life to have better cycles

If you’re anything like me, you don’t exactly relish having your period. My period and I haven’t always been on the best terms but I’ve come to appreciate that time of month as a time to slow down and reevaluate. However, my life has gotten so much better because of the changes I have made regarding the products I use during my period and to help with my own menstrual health.

Because there are more women in science who are researching science that actually affects women, we are reaching a new point in menstrual health where we are actually talking about what happens every month. Instead of sweeping it under the rug and pretending we aren’t menstruating, we are embracing a natural, healthy part of being a healthy woman in the 21st century. And also, living in the 21st century means we have more access to better period and menstrual health products than any other generation before us.

So, what do we do with this knowledge? How do we help create better periods for ourselves? Here are a couple different advances that you may or may not know about that are changing the game when it comes to period and menstrual health.

1. Reusable Period Underwear

If you are on the internet, you’ve heard of THINX underwear. They are reusable, absorbent underwear that you wear in lieu of a pad or a tampon during your period. They took the world by storm with their ad campaign battle in New York City. The ads featured models wearing the product, but also different objects like eggs or fruit, much in the vein of a Georgia O’Keefe painting, if you know what I mean. But overall the science holds up to the claim. The underwear, which is not the only kind on the market, with another brand being Dear Kate, is made with different layers of material. Essentially, there is an absorbent layer, a moisture-wicking layer, and a layer to prevent leaks.

These are a great alternative for using pads or tampons. They are reusable, and can be used for about five years or more given proper care. That makes them good for the planet, as you reduce your waste instead of using single-use products. They are also good for your health because you are not putting bleached cotton right next to your vagina, which is one of the most absorbent areas of tissue in the body.

Another option, as opposed to reusable period underwear, are reusable cloth pads. One option is Lunapads. Lunapads are a reusable cotton pad that you can wash and reuse time and time again. Like THINX or Dear Kate, they are so much better for the planet, and for your vaginal health. If you’re wondering what it’s like using them, you can check that out here.

THINX underwear sells six different styles of underwear, along with training shorts, and bodysuits. Dear Kate sells 3 styles of underwear, as well as activewear like yoga pants, dance wear, and an entire collection for plus-sized women.

2. Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups have been around for almost 40 years, but only just recently have they started making a resurgence. As the proud owner of a menstrual cup myself, I can say at first it sounds very unappealing. I was never one to wear tampons. To me, they were just uncomfortable. So when I first started looking into menstrual cups, I found myself scratching my head asking how would that fit up there? But the thing about menstrual cups is that they are designed with women in mind. The vagina can stretch a lot (it was designed to handle giving birth, remember!) and the cup sits nicely under the cervix to collect your period.

Made with either medical grade silicone or a component called TPE (thermoplastic elastomer), these cups can be used for up to ten years with proper care. Once you place them in, you don’t have to think about them for about 12 hours, depending on your flow. It’s the ultimate low maintenance solution. There is also no threat of Toxic Shock Syndrome because of the materials used. Again, like reusable period underwear, menstrual cups are also good for the planet because of you can reuse them for years.

Not only that, but a new cup – LOONCUP – could completely change the menstrual cup market. Made with the same medical-grade silicone that most menstrual cups are, the LOONCUP also would come equipped with a bluetooth device that connects to an app you would download onto your phone. Through the app, the cup would be able to tell you different facts about your period, like how much fluid you are producing, and when you should change your cup. Unfortunately, this cup is only good for six months, which makes it less environmentally friendly and long-lasting as the other options on the market, but it’s an incredibly cool idea!

Here is a list of the different menstrual cups on the market today, rated by users. Most are available online to be shipped, but some, like the Diva Cup, can be bought in the USA in drugstores like CVS, or even Walmart.

3. Clue, the Period Tracker App

There are dozens of period tracker apps on the market, but none quite like Clue. Clue, designed by a Berlin-based menstrual health company by the same name, is designed to be the best tracker on the market. It isn’t pink, it is’t frilly. There are no euphemisms here for what is happening in your body. The app tracks the different signs of fertility, and also a myriad of other options, from hair to mood to cravings, all things that are affected by your period. There is more to the app then just putting in the days you’re bleeding each month, and having the extra tracking options helps the algorithm – and you – learn more about the science of your menstrual cycle.

The way the algorithm works is it follows what you track, every day, and the more you put in the more it learns. By using the app every day you can better predict when your next cycle will begin, when you are due to ovulate (though the app is not entirely accurate there; you cannot use Clue as the main tracker if you are using the Fertility Awareness Method, only as a supplement to it), when PMS should start, and other parts of your cycle. By tracking different aspects of your life, you can start to realize how so many different systems in your body are interconnected. And isn’t learning more about your body a beautiful thing?

Clue can be downloaded for both iOS and Android.

4. Electromagnetic Pulse Therapy Machines

Having menstrual cramps along with your period sucks. For a lot of people it’s debilitating, and not everyone wants to be taking painkillers every day of their cycle. A lot of people tend to use heat to deal with menstrual cramping. However, there is another way.

Electromagnetic pulse therapy machines like the Livia use low-frequency pulse to keep the nerves “busy.” The pain signals can’t pass through because of that, and you can go about your day, pain free. Livia was backed in a very successful indiegogo fund, and is now available for purchase. However, just because it comes in pretty colors and with fun pads to stick onto your skin doesn’t mean that you can’t find a cheaper alternative. The Livia is essentially a tens unit, which have been used in electromagnetic pulse therapy for years, and are proven to help with menstrual cramping. You can purchase a tens unit for fairly cheap online. The idea is the same – pulses disrupt the pain signals, and you go about your life pain free. That sounds like a much better way to spend a period.

Your period can be awesome. You can make it awesome. You can track to find out when you’re going to get it, wear reusable period gear to help with your menstrual health, and even get rid of cramps. It doesn’t have to be some mysterious part of your life that you learn nothing about. The science is in – the 21st century is the time for periods to shine!

TV Shows Pop Culture

I thought the show “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” would make light of police brutality, until I saw this

As someone who cherishes and takes her free time very seriously, I am particular about the shows I choose to indulge in. After a long work week, I love to lose myself in television shows that are a perfect mix of comedy and drama. So, when a friend suggested I watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I was hesitant.

Television is my method to escape the horrors and stress of the real world. As a Black woman, I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable watching a show I thought was about a bunch of cops making light of the harsh realities of police brutality.

I started the show back in 2015. I watched about two episodes and then quickly abandoned it.

It wasn’t until this past winter when my seasonal depression began hitting me hard that I tried again in earnest. 

This time, it stuck. 

I watched all of the past seasons and caught up in about a month and a half. I’ve been preaching the wonders of Brooklyn Nine-Nine ever since.

One of my favorite things about this show is how diverse the cast is. Nowadays, networks and compacts love to throw the term “diversity” around like an empty buzzword. 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine actually follows through. The main cast is compromised people from different ethnicities, religions, and sexualities. It is honestly refreshing to behold.

This leads directly to my second favorite thing about the show: Captain Ray Holt. Holt is a gay Black man and he is the most powerful person in the show. Even though Holt is a queer person of color, that isn’t the be all, end all of his personality or character development. In many shows, characters from a marginalized group aren’t allowed to simply exist. Instead, they must embody and become a representation of the entire group. 

All of their storylines and plot points are all created in relation to their identity as a member of group X.

However, this isn’t to say that Brooklyn Nine-Nine completely ignores and attempts to sanitize Captain Holt’s history as the only openly gay police officer in his precinct, prior to his becoming captain. The show does a great job at highlighting his experiences without reducing him to solely these experiences.

Through my watching of the series, I found myself constantly impressed at how incredibly self-aware it was. My initial reservations soon melted away, because the show’s characters were consistently on-point in addressing the tension between the police force and civilians. 

In the season three episode, “Boyle’s Hunch,” when Officer Amy Santiago’s subway posters get vandalized, the characters are forced to acknowledge why the members of their community felt outraged enough to carry out this act. The officers manage to discuss ways to better serve, in turn, creating an open dialogue with the people they are hired to protect. In real-life Brooklyn, I don’t think it’s always as easy to come to resolutions like this, but I appreciated the show offering a way to remedy the situation – rather than pretending that New York City was some sort of utopia.

My love of Brooklyn Nine-Nine truly cemented during a more recent episode. 

In a season four episode entitled “Moo Moo”, Office Terry Jeffords, second in command and a Black man, is racially profiled in his own neighborhood. He is stopped and questioned by a white police officer, who is extremely aggressive and does not allow Terry to get a word in edgewise.

What follows is an extremely powerful scene, where Amy and Jake, two officers under Terry’s command, must sit his twin daughters down and explain the situation. The girls immediately want to know if Terry was targeted because he was black. 

This is never an easy answer to give any Black child, but Amy and Jake do a really awesome job at answering their questions honestly, while also making them feel safe.

This episode was eye-opening and drove home the point that even if a person is “blue” some of the time, they are Black all of the time. 

Which, unfortunately within society today, comes with an unavoidable level of suspicion and discrimination.

There’s no such thing as perfect and unproblematic media. 

If I stopped watching a show every time it didn’t completely line up with my own politics, I would have zero shows to watch and my days off would be a lot more boring. That being said, I appreciate Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s attempts to tackle important issues. The show’s ability to balance comedy, drama, and current events, without ever feeling callous or overdone, is a feat to behold.

 It’s quickly managed to become one of my all-time favorites and I’m so glad I decided to give it a second chance.

Tech The World Now + Beyond

The tech industry is forcing gentrification in major US cities- what can we do to fix this?

Gentrification is a term used to describe what happens to an urban area when wealthier people starting flowing in and renovating the city to meet their standards. This typically results in the displacement of the people who lived in these communities as prices become too expensive for them to stay there. Gentrification became a hot debate in the 90’s when rich white people began moving in to the NYC boroughs to live closer to their Manhattan finance jobs.

The process has repeated in the 2000’s in Brooklyn with the invasion of the hipsters. In both surges of gentrification, the residents of the communities, mostly people of color, were forced out of their homes to make room for new development or because rents were too high for them to stay.

In the past twenty years, the tech industry has exploded. It went from being a niche industry to the most profitable industry in the country in 2016. This boom has led to the creation of millions of jobs. Many of these jobs have been centered around specific geographic locations, like Silicon Valley in California. The area around the San Francisco Bay that encompasses San Jose, San Mateo, and Palo Alto, was nicknamed Silicon Valley because so many tech giants, most notably Google, opened their headquarters there.

Of course, adding so many jobs in one particular area meant that a lot of people moved to the area. And adding so many jobs in the tech industry meant that a very specific type of person was moving to the Silicon Valley area: highly educated, highly skilled, wealthy people, or at least people who were looking to be wealthy.

So, the tech boom has led to a huge influx of the upper middle class in the San Francisco Bay Area. And if you’ve been following the story, you can guess that this led to some major gentrification. There was huge demand for housing within commuting distance of Silicon Valley, so property managers found they could jack up rents. The current residents who couldn’t afford the housing were forced to move. Residents of some neighborhoods were even offered money to leave their homes so that they could be demolished to make way for new high rise apartment buildings.

The ones who could afford to stay soon found that the price for everything else in their neighborhood went up as well. Business owners found that they could charge more for goods and services because there were so many more people with disposable income. So, they did. Soon, locally owned businesses even began to suffer as higher end businesses move in to capitalize on the market, or as tech companies seek to buy out their buildings for office space.

The problem isn’t just happening in San Francisco either. Other areas where high tech companies have set up shop, like Boston, Seattle, and Austin are experiencing gentrification as well.

Today, these towns barely resemble the urban landscapes they did twenty years ago. Techies have recreated the area in their own image, driving out the locals and their culture. Economically, the areas have thrived from the entrance of the tech industry, but as always, the working class people have suffered at the hands of the middle and upper middle classes. Gentrification also ends up being a racial issue because the majority of the people being driven out by rising prices are people of color.

Tech companies aren’t entirely responsible for gentrification in cities all over America. Look at Brooklyn. Sometimes the youth just decide that a certain urban city is gritty and cool, and they decide to take it over and remake it to their liking. There’s a whole discussion about privilege to be had there, but we’ll save that for another time.

However, socially-conscious tech companies should be willing to take some of the responsibility for the gentrification they’ve created and work to put fixes in place. They could start by putting money back in to the communities where their employees have driven out working class people. They could also consider funding affordable housing so that people can afford to stay in their own communities. The ideas are endless. What they do need to do is take a long hard look at the way they’re promoting inequality and commit themselves to improving.

Books Pop Culture

5 women of color authors you have to start reading this year

Everyone has heard about Gloria Naylor, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker.  But I want to focus on recent novels that feature women of color as the main point of view, written by incredible women themselves.

Every one of the authors listed below have novels that were published within the last three years and are absolutely slaying the patriarchy by focusing on their personal experiences as a female during this era.

1. Roxane Gay

Related image

Gay writes for film and television as well as stories.  She is a featured contributor to the  and an editor for PANK.   She also just recently wrote a script for Marvel. Gay is a beautiful example of a WOC author displaying honest and real women in her short stories and other works.

Her most recent novel, “Difficult Women” came out in 2017 and is already a hit.  This book is a collection of stories that show women and the complexities of their lives.  Her novels tend to be ferocious and hard-hitting about feminism.  This novel involves a mother attempting to avenge her child’s death through non-traditional ways.  Gay attempts to write about what is in the world around her, and explores the truth of that world even if it may be harsh.

Image result for difficult women

2. Pheobe Robinson

Robinson lives in Brooklyn and is an actress, writer and comedian.  She has been on tons of shows like MTV’s Girl Code and Comedy Central’s Broad City. She is well known for her podcasts, Sooo Many White Guys and 2 Dope Queens.  She has also written for “Last Comic Standing” and “White Guy Talk Show.”

Image result for "You Can't Touch My Hair"

Her novel, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain is an incredible collection of essays about all different kinds of issues in today’s world.  She tackles race, gender and pop culture.  She mostly focuses on being a black woman in the United States.

While in college, she was the only black person in the class and noted that when slavery came up everyone looked to her.  She has incredibly strong opinions on issues like femininity and body issues and provides a great voice through her book.

3. Han Kang

Related image

Han Kang was born in South Korea and lives there still today.  She has won awards for her two popular novels, The Vegetarian and Human ActsThe Vegetarian was her first novel to be translated into English and has since changed her readers through her incredible novels.

Image result for the vegetarian

Kang tells the story of two sisters through three sections in The Vegetarian. The story gets interesting when one sister decides to divert from religious norms and become a vegetarian.  The relationship between the two sisters becomes increasingly tough and stressful for them both with different twists and turns. She explores violence and the consequences of imperialism in Korea.

Writers who can be honest and present a story like this of two sisters struggling through life together but apart is powerful and should be spread to many more languages still. She tells the story through two men and then her sister, which gives the audience an intense look on the view of women in this culture and society as well as from the eyes of her sister.

4. Margo Jefferson

Image result for Margo Jefferson

Margo Jefferson is currently a professor at Columbia University.  She is well-known for being a critic, but she has also worked as a writer and written screenplays.  She was a critic for years with the New York Times and also worked as an editor at Newsweek.  She won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995.

Image result for negroland book margo jefferson

Her recent novel, Negroland: a Memoir is the story of her life growing up in Chicago in an affluent black family during the ’50s and ’60s.  She uses this book to jump around times in memories and struggles to convey the tragic and difficult memories that she copes with.

Jefferson’s memoir is an important look into America’s past and includes the need for and strength that can be found in retracing one’s footsteps.  She shows a complex look into growing up black in Chicago, but also remaining a member of the privileged class.

5. Sara Farizan

Image result for sara farizan

Faizan is the daughter of Iranian immigrants who grew up in Boston, but now lives in San Francisco.  She is known specifically for her queer young adult literature.  She is fascinating because of her unique outlook on the world from immigrant parents and growing up to realize that she is a lesbian.  She is known for writing about women who are discovering themselves in unusual settings.

Image result for tell me again how a crush should feel by sara farizan

Her most recent novel, “Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel” is illuminating.  The story revolves around a girl who is growing up in Boston and attending a private school, much like Farizan herself.  It is important for individuals growing up, whether they are struggling to integrate because of their parent’s immigration, or their sexual identity or gender identity and so on, for them to understand that they are not alone.