Natural Hair Stories-Part Two

by Desire’ Jackson-Crosby and Cynthia Ntinunu

What is hair? Is it just a follicle on the top of one’s head? Or is it a piece of you that evokes certain feelings? The natural hair journey is a unique experience for anyone who goes through it. For some it’s a straightforward journey and for others there’s a lot to unpack.

This project allowed 11 people to relive and share their natural hair journeys-from their struggles to their triumphs. Below are the next three people for the natural hair stories series.

Yanni Cabrera

A Forever Phase

For senior Yanni Cabrera, natural hair is more than just a phase. It’s a part of her that has been straightened, cut, and growing alongside her while expanding her understanding of self. She refuses to change it to fit others’ standards of beauty. (Click the image above to read the full story)

Continue reading “Natural Hair Stories-Part Two”

India, Pakistan and ongoing tensions in the modern world

The Valley of Kashmir (Tony Gladvin George/Flickr)

By Isha Mahajan

Over the past 70 years, Kashmir – a snowy mountainous region occupied by military troops on the India-Pakistan border – has been the center of communal violence and displacement, affecting people living in and around this territory adversely. The impact was initially felt by the people living in Kashmir and has grown to affect the religious groups and foreign policies of these countries.

The attacks in Pulwama in February of this year led to the killing of nine, people including four soldiers and a policeman in a gun battle in Indian administered Kashmir. This event enabled Kashmir to dominate the headlines once again and highlighted the decades-old conflict between these neighboring countries.

Continue reading “India, Pakistan and ongoing tensions in the modern world”

Love is…

Love is when her mood affects your mood, It takes over your body
A feeling of no control,  though none is wanted
Love is the uncontrollable smile that comes across your face when she’s around,
It’s so genuine no way can you can have a frown
Love is being chest to chest, heart to heart 
Matching pound by pound 
Lovely synchronized with each passing moment 
and when the pounding of each others heart is apart, 
it stays consistent
Love is many wonderful things but one thing it is not is a One-Way street
Nor 50/50 more 100% from from both sides
So when Love like this comes along in your life don’t take it lightly because 
Love like that may only come around once in a LifeTime
 -ST


Lost All You
I want to feel ya warmth 
Tha feeling of your body touching mine
sparks a fire within me and I believe your fire merges with mine,
It’s crazy that I feel this because I thought this feeling was only one of a kind.I look up to stars for guidance but nothing can be seen inside the grey skies 
So instead I chose to look into your beautiful brown eyes, Falling deep into an abyss 
Where I found your warmth and I start to want it to be mine
My five senses tangle and I feel the opening of my third eye, 
Just the smell of you triggers me and I don’t know why 
and the thought you alone makes me want you to be mines
-ST

To the girl that couldn’t give my all too.

The first thing I want to say is that I never met someone as incredible as you. I mean your presence alone lefts my spirit and mind, Every time we are together you touch my heart and I hope this feeling is neutral. I mean honestly I never thought I’d smile when someone flips me off but when you do it I can’t help it

CEPA organizers ‘March on Whitmore,’ continuing to pressure administration to respond to student debt crisis

The 50 person crowd gathering by the ramp outside of Whitmore administration building (Brie Bristol/Rebirth Project)

By Brie Bristol

AMHERST, MA – It was apparent to the public that an overcast day at the University of Massachusetts Amherst would not stop organizers and allies of the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy from marching to the Whitmore administration building, who were advocating against student debt.

The Center for Education Policy & Advocacy, also known as CEPA, has been an agency on campus since 2007, “building grassroots power movements to expand the political consciousness of the campus.”

On Friday, April 12, CEPA as well as their student allies, marched to Whitmore from Goodell lawn. The organizers discussed with the 50 person crowd that they were there to address the UMass Amherst student debt crisis. “The university can’t drown out our voices any longer,” CEPA education & training coordinator Emma Kinney said, stirring up the audience.

Continue reading “CEPA organizers ‘March on Whitmore,’ continuing to pressure administration to respond to student debt crisis”

LGBTQIA+ Art Showcase and Performance Open Mic-A Space of Expression and Support

by Cynthia Ntinunu

On Tuesday Mar. 20, the Stonewall Center of the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted a LGBTQIA+ Art Showcase and Open Mic night. Held in Bartlett Hall, the event was broken up into two parts.

The night started off with snacks and a gallery walk. The gallery featured over 15 artists with art pieces ranging from paintings, embroidery, photography, knitting, and more. People were able to walk through and admire the work that artists created as a rotation of chill music, like Solange’s latest album When I Get Home, played in the background.

Embroidery pieces by Antonia Lynch(Cynthia Ntinunu/Rebirth Project)
Continue reading “LGBTQIA+ Art Showcase and Performance Open Mic-A Space of Expression and Support”

The Veins that Stopped Growing

By Lucia Solorzano

I have dreams of my veins spreading out
like the vines on my garden wall

And my blood,  bringing life
like the ocean 20 miles south

My skin, the protector
like the air and the clouds

The hairs on my body to keep me warm
like the small spring grown sprouts

My braid that swings about
like the old moss licked tree
that grew with me

and it’s leaves that fell
like the trees that fell
like the chemicals that spewed and spilled
and the smog that clouded our judgement
and brought us downhill

and now the vines can’t grow
and the ocean can’t glow

with the life and the warmth
of the trees and the sprouts

and my garden wall
the vines stopped growing
and all we do is watch the leaves fall.

We Change the World!: A Celebration of International Women’s Day

By Brie Bristol

AMHERST – On Thursday, Mar. 7, the University of Massachusetts Amherst celebrated women around the world with an “International Women’s Day Celebration.” The event, coordinated by the Center for Women & Community, was held in New Africa House, with special food, speakers, and performances from 4 to 6 p.m.  

“It’s empowerment in a positive sense,” said Sarah Danforth, educator advocate for CWC, when discussing how the event brings connections between women through networking. She discussed that she’s attended the event to have first hand “meaningful work [to be] connected on this campus.”

Open to all, the event hosted around  60 persons, including women of all ethnicities, a few men, and even children – most took turns coloring in pictures of their favorite inspirational women, such as Frida Kahlo.

Continue reading “We Change the World!: A Celebration of International Women’s Day”

Comic book creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez talks about Afro-Latina superhero La Borinqueña and social change in Puerto Rico

By Steven Turner-Parker

On Friday, Mar. 1, the Latinx American Cultural Center hosted graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez for a talk about La Borinqueña, a comic book series he created that features one of the few Afro-Latina superheroes.

La Borinqueña stars Marisol Rios De La Luz, a Nuyorican (New York-born Puerto Rican) and Columbia University student who studies abroad for a semester at the University of Puerto Rico. While there, she explores the caves on the island and finds five crystals, all of which give La Luz individual powers such as superhuman strength, the power of flight, and control of the storms. With her newfound powers, La Luz adopts the superhero name La Borinquena, inspired by Puerto Rico’s national anthem, and works alongside the community to create social change.

As students walked into the LACC, they were greeted with a Puerto Rican flag and the alluring smell of Puerto Rican food prior to the talk. Later during his speech, Miranda-Rodriguez talked about the reasoning for hanging up the flag and serving food was to bring a home feeling to the event.

Continue reading “Comic book creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez talks about Afro-Latina superhero La Borinqueña and social change in Puerto Rico”

GIRLS: Yung Baby Tate’s Anthem for Every Woman

Image result for yung baby tate girls

By Lucia Solorzano

Yung Baby Tate is an impressive rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Her newest album, GIRLS (released on Feb. 5), celebrates the different angles of her own womanhood and self in an empowering, fun, and expressive way. In her self-produced album, Yung Baby Tate’s sound is unique and bouncy, matching her vibrant and impeccable fashion style. The album features other talented rappers and singers including Bbymutha, Killumanti, Mulatto, Kari Faux, and Baby Rose.

Her sound and style is reminiscent of 90s video games, mixed with a dreamy feeling and bouncy beats. It sounds like glitter is sprinkled through every song. Her playful flow adds to this feeling along with her synthy beeps. Each song is a completely different mood, but are all tied together with her fun style.

The album cover is Yung Baby Tate in a silver leotard with women behind her in pink leotards, all standing on bleachers with their hands above their heads and eyes closed, in a majestic stance. This image represents a squad of girls who are practicing to perform for homecoming (as exemplified through her short film for the album). Each has a different personality and name which coincide with the album song titles.

Initially looking through the song names and album cover, one may assume it is solely about different types of girls: “New Girl,” “That Girl,” “Pretty Girl,” “Cozy Girl.” However, they simultaneously represent different girls and herself. The different girls and personalities are represented visually, through different models embodying the personalities on her Instagram posts and short film, while lyrically Yung Baby Tate is speaking in the first person throughout the album. The fluidity between and within women’s experiences is tied through this double representation.

This expression shows the different facets of her womanhood and experiences, including vulnerability, confidence, hurt, feeling herself, and being cozy. This is what really draws the listener in, because rather than expressing one consistent persona, it gives a glimpse into her layered personality, but is still easily relatable and empowering to others. The narrative of the album seems to represent not only herself, but collective experiences and moods that women (or anyone) can have.

As stated before, each song represents a different persona. They are confident, or confidently vulnerable, but each one embraces a different set of emotions. Discussing the different moods is empowering because Yung Baby Tate is not afraid to express emotions that many women get shamed for, such as being “too sexual” or being “too cocky”. She describes the different personas within the following Twitter thread:

This album is important because not only does it empower the cocky, confident, sexual, and vulnerable sides of Yung Baby Tate’s womanhood, it is also easily relatable for a wide variety of audience. The whole album is extremely emotive and evokes a feeling of walking on a cloud of confidence.

The album GIRLS by Yung Baby Tate is available on all streaming services

Abolition in the Valley: The legacy of African Americans in Florence, MA

The Sojourner Truth memorial statue, designed by sculptor Thomas Jay Warren in 2001. The statue is located at the corner of Pine and Park Streets in Florence, Mass. Sojourner Truth called Florence home for about 13 years. (Ethan Bakuli/Rebirth Project)

By Ethan Bakuli

Outside of the Greater Boston area or gateways cities, such as Springfield or Pittsfield, few may expect to find large numbers of black people in Massachusetts. It’s surprising, then, to hear that Florence, Mass., a village tucked in the northwest corner of the city of Northampton, had 10 percent black residents in 1850, higher than major hubs like New Bedford and Boston.

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, in light of Black History Month and in partnership with the David Ruggles Center for History and Education, the Malcolm X Cultural Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst hosted a two-part event on the impact of slavery in the Pioneer Valley.

Ruggles Center director Steve Scrimer was invited to speak at the MXCC, presenting the history of African Americans that arrived to Florence in the middle 19th century via the Underground Railroad, and quickly made the mill town their home and site of radical organizing.

Continue reading “Abolition in the Valley: The legacy of African Americans in Florence, MA”

Sita Haran – A dance drama presented by the Indian Classical Arts Society (photos) 

By Isha Mahajan

The Indian Classical Arts Society at the University of Massachusetts Amherst performed “Sita Haran” at Bezanson Hall on Saturday, Feb. 23. The show was about retelling an epic story from the ancient Hindu text, Ramayana, about the abduction of Sita by the king of Lanka, Ravana.

The show was a compilation of acts performed in various Indian dance forms—Kathak, Odissi and Bharatanatyam—and music forms that were adapted from different parts of North and South India. The dancers were accompanied by live musicians from UMass Amherst and the Greater Boston area.

Ilina Shah, president of the Indian Classical Arts Society, said, “Sita Haran was a perfect story for this show because it was a short enough excerpt from the Hindu epic Ramayana which has been interpreted by dancers from many Indian classical dance and music forms. Each dancer and musician could develop their own unique take on the character they were playing.”

All of the artists have been trained in their music and dance styles for over five years. The acts that were performed through the evening were self-choreographed and took inspiration from set compositions that have been established in these varied dance forms. The use of live music and different facial expressions helped bring out the story and showed the creativity the artists used to execute the story. Sita Haran represented the diversity and relevance of mythology this is prevalent in Indian society.

Continue reading “Sita Haran – A dance drama presented by the Indian Classical Arts Society (photos) ”

¿Cómo se Dice? How Do You Say it? – A space to express yourself through Spanish

By Cynthia Ntinunu

The flyer for ¿Cómo se Dice? How Do You Say it?, which is held biweekly. (CMASS website)

On Wednesday Feb. 20, five Latinx students sat at a table in the Latinx American Cultural Center admiring how fast El Alfa rapped in Spanish in his music video “Mi Mami” at the first ¿Cómo se Dice? How Do You Say it? event of the semester.

“I want to speak Spanish like him,” Yanni Cabrera, English major, said as she and the four other attendees watched the video.

Held every spring semester, ¿Cómo se Dice? How Do You Say it? is a biweekly event hosted by the LACC to give a space for Latinx students and all people to come speak in Spanish. No matter what skill level of Spanish you are at, the doors are open for you.

Continue reading “¿Cómo se Dice? How Do You Say it? – A space to express yourself through Spanish”

“A Celebration of Black Art” open mic (photos)

By Sifa Kasongo

On Friday, Feb. 22, the Black Student Union and the
University of Massachusetts Amherst chapter of the NAACP gave students of color a space to celebrate Black art. The event, “Celebration of Black Art” was held in the New Africa House Theatre from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“It’s a chance to have people celebrate themselves,” said Marquise Laforest, president of BSU.

At this event, students of color had the opportunity to share their art — whether through poetry, rap lyrics, or singing.

Ashley Lopez Dishmey recites one of her own poems (Sifa Kasongo/Rebirth Project)
Continue reading ““A Celebration of Black Art” open mic (photos)”

UMass printmaking professor uses her art and teaching to showcase her journey as an Afro-Cuban migrant growing up in America

By Isha Mahajan

Juana Valdes, printmaking professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, acknowledges that students and faculty of color deserve a platform and a community that makes them comfortable and creates a space where students can get together to share ideas and beliefs.

“Often times, there is not enough importance put to these situations and these issues are not addressed as quickly as they need to be addressed,” Valdes said.

Valdes recalls gravitating towards making art as a junior in high school, when she was put in various creative classes. She now sees it as an opportunity to express her perception of the world.

“As a woman, as a woman of color and as an immigrant, I feel that I’m at an intersection of a lot of discriminations and push-backs of my ideas and beliefs, so I have decided to use my work as a vehicle to communicate what it’s likes to be in my position.”

Continue reading “UMass printmaking professor uses her art and teaching to showcase her journey as an Afro-Cuban migrant growing up in America”

Letter: SGA president Timmy Sullivan: A candidate for racial justice

To the editor:

Timmy Sullivan may fit the same physical appearance as almost all of our past U.S. presidents (by physical appearance I mean the fact that he is clearly a white male), but through one single interaction with him I was able to realize his true dedication to advocating for racial justice, even on a local scale.

Continue reading “Letter: SGA president Timmy Sullivan: A candidate for racial justice”

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah concert (photos)

From left to right: Lawrence Fields, piano; Luques Curtis, bass; Logan Richardson, saxophone; Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, trumpet; Weedie Braimah, percussion; Corey Fonville, drums. (Ethan Bakuli/Rebirth Project)

By Ethan Bakuli

This Valentine’s day, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center was welcome to a special performance by New Orleans trumpeter and composer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah and his quintet.

Performing in the Bowker Auditorium, Adjuah’s Feb. 14 concert came at the end of a week-long tour across the Pioneer Valley through the Billy Taylor Endowment for Jazz Residencies, teaching and working with local high school and Five College students in masterclass workshops and one-on-one student critiques.

Continue reading “Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah concert (photos)”

Culinary historian and chef Michael W. Twitty traces his roots—and America’s—through food

Author, chef and food historian Michael W. Twitty. (Cynthia Ntinunu/Rebirth Project)

By Ethan Bakuli

Community members, faculty and students were in attendance for a talk by culinary historian and memoirist Michael W. Twitty. The talk, held Wednesday evening in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall, was based off of Twitty’s 2017 personal memoir, “The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South.”

For well over a decade, Twitty has worked with living history museums to recreate the cooking practices of black people, dating back to the Transatlantic slave trade. What began as his love of culinary history and cooking grew into a desire to learn and teach others the ways enslaved people raised, harvested and cultivated their crops during the 18th and 19th century.

Continue reading “Culinary historian and chef Michael W. Twitty traces his roots—and America’s—through food”

“If Beale Street Could Talk” film review: A “radical project of black love”

By Ethan Bakuli

(Warning: Light spoilers ahead)

University of Massachusetts Amherst faculty, students and community members were in full attendance Sunday evening for a special film screening of If Beale Street Could Talk, hosted by the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies in partnership with local movie theater Amherst Cinema.

Afro-American Studies department chair Stephanie Shonekan introduced the evening’s screening, anticipating that Barry Jenkins’s (director of Moonlight and Medicine for Melancholy) film adaptation of the 1974 novel by James Baldwin would allow present-day audiences to “pause and think about what messages [Baldwin] is still sending us decades later.”

Continue reading ““If Beale Street Could Talk” film review: A “radical project of black love””

New Yorker writer and Columbia Journalism professor Jelani Cobb speaks on free speech and polarization on college campuses

Author, writer and educator Jelani Cobb discusses “Speech On and Off Campus” with Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Anna Branch. (Rebirth Project/Brie Bristol)

By Ethan Bakuli and Brie Bristol

On Tuesday Feb. 5, University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Office of Equity and Inclusion presented  “Understanding the Forces that Drive Us Apart: A Symposium on Polarization” as an daylong event allowing participants “to understand the history and dynamics of social polarization.”

The symposium, hosted in the Campus Center Auditorium, featured a conversation between Jelani Cobb, New Yorker staff writer and Ira A. Lipman Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, and UMass Associate Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Enobong (Anna) Branch discussing freedom of speech on college campuses.

Continue reading “New Yorker writer and Columbia Journalism professor Jelani Cobb speaks on free speech and polarization on college campuses”

CEPA organizers ‘extend an olive branch’ to Board of Trustees, push for student debt relief

CEPA organizers Blythe White and Erick Plowden speak in front of the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees (Ethan Bakuli/Rebirth Project)

By Ethan Bakuli

On a particularly cold Thursday morning, a group of University Of Massachusetts student organizers bared frigid temperatures as they waited to enter the Old Chapel. The group, comprised of members from the Center for Education Policy & Advocacy, were in attendance for the Dec. 13 meeting of the UMass Board of Trustees, planning to push the board members to address rising tuition and mandatory fees that have priced out university students.

The Board of Trustees meeting began with a call to order by chairman Robert Manning, who quickly highlighted UMass Amherst as an “anomaly” compared to other universities in the “industry of higher education”. Nationally, he cited a declining trend in enrollment and graduation rates that could lead several private and public colleges to “go out of business” within the next five years.

Continue reading “CEPA organizers ‘extend an olive branch’ to Board of Trustees, push for student debt relief”

UMass Amherst students ‘March Against Racism & White Supremacy,’ bring list of demands to administration

A mixed crowd of undergraduate and graduate students gathered in front of the Student Union (Photo: Brie Bristol/Rebirth Project)

By Brie Bristol

A usual day around one in the afternoon at the University of Massachusetts Amherst consists of students in class, eating in the dining halls, studying at the library, or working out at the recreation center. On Thursday Dec. 6, it was different than the norm. About 200 people marched together to “denounce the acts of hate and cowardice plaguing our campus in recent months”, such as written threats and racial profiling.

In the past three months, UMass Amherst has experienced various racist incidents. A Whitmore employee had campus police called on him, the Melville residence hall had three racially targeted issues in a row and white supremacy flyers were found around campus. While this is not the first time these incidents have happened on the campus, their frequency over the fall semester has made it a deep concern for the UMass community.

Continue reading “UMass Amherst students ‘March Against Racism & White Supremacy,’ bring list of demands to administration”

Eyewitness Account: Solidarity with the Migrant Caravan

Embed from Getty Images

By Sifa Kasongo

On Wednesday, Nov. 28, students and faculty from the University of Massachusetts Amherst joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO) at 6:30 p.m. in the Campus Center to hear a firsthand account of the struggles of the migrant caravan and how people can show solidarity and support.

The firsthand account came from Fermin Valle, a queer South American activist, an ISO member and a doctoral student in higher education at UMass.

Valle discussed his experience traveling down to Mexico City, where he met some of the migrants, asylum seekers and people who are a part of the caravan.

Continue reading “Eyewitness Account: Solidarity with the Migrant Caravan”