In late August, applications opened up for The Opening Act HBCU Conference that would take place on October 6-7, 2016. Applications called for tech, business, and communications undergraduate students who have an interest in music. Approximately 1,000 individuals applied and 81 applicants were chosen in the end, and I was one of those 81. Spotify provided us an all expense paid trip to New York City, where we given the opportunity to stay in The Standard High Line Hotel. During the conference, we were given insight on the tech and media industry from black successful individuals in the field. Beyonce’s manager and head of Parkwood Entertainment, Steve Pamon spoke with us and gave insight on what it’s like to work for the greatest superstar in the world and how hard work brought him to that position. Troy Carter, the head of the Atom Factory, held an open conversation on what brought him to where he was and just being in the industry as well. In an industry, where black people only make up 3%, the Opening Act Conference is really a gem. The Conference was a really amazing experience and gave all of us the opportunity to experience New York City. There was a feeling inspiration and endless possibilities and I can’t wait to see my cohorts of the conference will do in the future. It is often, that HBCUs are looked down at as institutions because they are considered to lack diversity. Attending an HBCU and being at the conference, I see first hand the diversity among a people that is considered homogeneous and the beauty in that diversity. The conference gave us the opportunity to connect and I’m going to be eternally grateful to Spotify for that. I, now take pride in paying that $9.99 a month and see Spotify as more than just a streaming service.
Subscribe to our
In Louisiana and many other states, it is important to have a hurricane plan
With hurricane season, it's always best to be prepared for it. It means having a plan for your family and home. Everyone in Louisiana should know the basics of preparing for hurricane season.
Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the local hurricane evacuation route(s) to take and have a plan for where you can stay. Contact your local emergency management agency for more information.Put together a disaster supply kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, and copies of your critical information if you need to evacuate.If you are not in an area that is advised to evacuate and you decide to stay in your home, plan for adequate supplies in case you lose power and water for several days and you are not able to leave due to flooding or blocked roads. Make a family emergency communication plan. Many communities have text or email alerting systems for emergency notifications.To find out what alerts are available in your area, search the Internet with your town, city, or county name and the word “alerts.”
Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe. Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property. Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors. Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlets.Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.
Listen to local officials for updates and instructions. Check-in with family and friends by texting or using social media. Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe. Watch out for debris and downed power lines. Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away. Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away. Photograph the damage to your property in order to assist in filing an insurance claim. Do what you can to prevent further damage to your property, (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof), as insurance may not cover additional damage that occurs after the storm.
If you need any more information for preparing for a hurricane, please go to https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes for help. The website will tell you what to do.
A New Yorker's quick weekend in Atlanta.
On a weekend visit to Atlanta, I had to adjust to people being personable and congenial to me. Although I had lived in the South before, I had to get reacquainted with southern hospitality due to visiting from Brooklyn. Atlanta Uber drivers are very down to earth, offer snacks, and provide great genuine conversations. The opposite is the lay of the land from Brooklyn Uber drivers. The southern hospitality is provided not only from the Uber drivers, but restaurant servers, cashiers, or random people giving suggestions. Brooklyn is a dope and unique place to live, but short on the warmth more often than not.
I touched down on Friday night and visited the Clermont Lounge where Jack Black pulled up for some Pabst Blue Ribbon. The Clermont Lounge is the antithesis to the typical “Atlanta” strip club. You will not see Future or Gucci Mane in this spot like you would in Magic City. You are more likely to see Robert Deniro here. The crowd is an eclectic mix of bohemians, Patagonia wearers, professionals, and hipsters. The entertainers tend to be older. The inside of the venue had a country bar feel. Cameras are not allowed inside. On the outside of the establishment you can even grab a piece of barbecued deliciousness.
If brunch is your thing, Atlanta is the place. On Saturday I brunched at Buttermilk Kitchen in Buckhead. You can get some buttermilk pancakes or a buttermilk chicken biscuit with pepper jelly on the side. There may be a line before sitting down and feeding your face, but if you are into coffee grab a bottomless cup and wait before you show love to your taste buds.
Saturday night led me to The EARL. The EARL stands for East Atlanta Restaurant and Lounge. There I ran across the sounds of Athens, Georgia-based band Maserati. They are a based on instrumentals that remind me somewhat of Kraftwerk, Justice, and Daft Punk to a small extent.
Also on Saturday night within walking distance of The Earl is The Glenwood where I grabbed a beer and had some warm pecan pie. At this venue I took in the sights and sounds of a classic hip-hop night called “Boom Bap Saturday.” At the event one can partake in the classic hip-hop which ranges from The Roots, Fu-Schnickens, The Jungle Brothers, or even Ghostface Killah.
On Saturday evening I visited The Krog Street Market which is a great place to grab a Sweetwater beer, get a shot of whiskey, and watch your favorite college sports team battle it out on the gridiron. There are many brews on tap here and a very festive environment. I actually saw the club promoter from Episode 8 of Childish Gambino’s show “Atlanta.”
Not far from the Krog Street Market is the Atlanta Beltline which can connect one to many spots in the city of Atlanta which I visited also on Saturday evening. The Beltline is a great place to see views of “the city too busy to hate”, exercise, meet people, admire dope murals along the way and get to other places along the way. A location off the Atlanta Beltline is the Ponce City Market where you can grab a bite to eat, shop, sip your favorite brand of coffee, or have a festive social gathering. There are many eateries inside that can suit many different types of palates
Another brunch spot also in Buckhead called Another Broken Egg is where I patronized on a Sunday. There will be a line, but it is well worth the wait. You can feast here on an array of omelettes or eggs benedict. Personally, I got the savory shrimp and grits.
A Sunday stroll led me through Little Five Points where there are many unique boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, lounges, and music events going on. I had the pleasure of going to the Sevananda Natural Foods Market which is a co-op grocer that is community and consumer owned.
Aside from Beltline murals, there are also murals in Cabbagetown where I visited Sunday evening. There are many different murals inside the Krog Street tunnel. Around the corner from the tunnel are walls of murals by local artists. Shot out to the Instagram accounts of @thefairchild and @joekingatl who have art on these Cabbagetown walls.
On a cold fall day head to Taiyo Ramen where I had Sunday supper. You can get different types of ramen that range from kimchi beef to vegetable to duck. Add in your favorite flavor bomb for an extra kick.
After a good weekend, it was time to head back to Gotham. Although I felt tired I also appreciated the southern comfort I received from the “A.”
... in case you needed another excuse to eat empanadas and churros.
Like many of my wanderlust-ridden friends and family, I'll travel anywhere for the promise of good food. I once went to Thailand in pursuit of traditional massaman curry and Spain for authentic patatas bravas — neither of which let me down.
What usually ends up being the biggest letdown is coming home to miss the traditional, local cuisine. It may not have quite the same ambiance, but trying to cook authentic dishes at home can increase appreciation for the craft and culture behind them.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, making our favorite dishes from Hispanic countries has been top of mind — not to mention if you're anything like me, you've been looking for an excuse to eat more chilaquiles and arroz con maíz.
We could likely find hundreds of recipes online, but digging through the weeds to find one only to realize after you've bought the ingredients and cooked it to find out it's not turned well at all is one of the biggest culinary disappointments.
The recipes below are tried and true favorites from a blend of Hispanic countries, all paying homage to the culturally rich places they come from:
Naturally gluten-free, cheesy bread, think of it like Argentinian pizza.
The fried, stuffed, spicy dough can be easily adapted for vegan or vegetarian diets as a side or main dish with a variety of sauces.
Rice, fried plantain, and meat smothered in savory garlic and cumin.
Spicy beans stewed in a soothing blend of pumpkin, corn, and paprika make this the ultimate fall comfort food.
Cornflour-based pancakes fried and smothered in cheese make the perfect dinner party snack.
These buttery shortbread cookies with a tangy lime twist are begging to be dunked in some warm milk or tea.
Deep-fried carbs fit any mood, but these in particular pair idyllically with a garlic parsley dip or some seasoned rice.
The soul-soothing potato-based soup tastes so good, your guests will have no idea how easy it was to make.
The indulgent, creamy pancakes have a basis of crunchy potatoes blended with cheese, then fried and dunked in a savory peanut sauce.
This fluffy, bean-stuffed masa cake topped with fermented vegetables tastes so good, you won't believe it's actually super healthy, too.
These deep-fried sweet peppers stuffed with your choice of filling are made even more indulgent with the creamy tomato sauce you'll drizzle on top. Pair with some seasoned rice to make it a complete meal.
A fluffy, cookie-like pastry made from corn flour, rosquillas are a naturally gluten-free sweet-salty snack lover's dream.
These dough, fluffy balls are a coconut lover's dream
The beloved Mexican breakfast dish has been replicated many times over, but this recipe, in particular, is super authentic, right down to the seasonings and Mexican cream.
Creamy, tangy, and rich, this soup has an incredible depth of flavors with just a handful of ingredients you probably already have at home.
A traditional rice and beans dish eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Nicaragua, it's all about the seasonings with this one, often paired with eggs or steak and topped with cotija or a drizzle of tangy crema.
Soft potatoes smothered in a luxuriously creamy yet spicy cheese sauce, topped with an egg, you'd be crazy not to lick the plate — plus, you'll find yourself pairing the addictive sauce with nearly everything that comes out of your kitchen.
Probably everyone's go-to tapas dish at any Spanish restaurant or bar, this recipe, in particular, has a spicy brava sauce so good, you may want to double that part of the recipe.
The crispy, fried dough is so dangerously easy to whip in a couple of minutes, once you learn the recipe, you'll have to physically restrain yourself from making it all the time.
The preparation and ingredients of tamales vary in every region — Venezuelan hallacas are renowned for their tender filling, filled with a plethora of spices from cumin to cooking red wine served on fragrant plantain leaves.
Iranian women go hijab-less in public protests
Launched by Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad in 2014, My Stealthy Freedom is a commendable campaign that shows women going against the strict hijab restrictions in Iran. This movement has recently gained a lot of momentum on their Facebook page and is currently even gaining support from tourists in Iran. Ms. Alinejad shares photos of men in hijabs and women inside Iran who have taken part in a moment of 'stealthy freedom' by removing their hijabs to the outside world.
In regards to the men posting photos in hijabs to the campaign, she describes, “Most of these men are living inside Iran and they have witnessed how their female relatives have been suffering at the hands of the morality police and humiliation of enforced hijab." Men in Iran have uploaded photos on social media in hijab to fight against women being forced to cover their hair in public. Hijabs have been heavily enforced in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Women who choose to go without a headscarf, as well as women dressed 'bad hijab' by having hair show face punishments from the so-called 'morality police' ranging from fines to imprisonment.
Men and women are continuing to stand against regulations that impose women to wear hijab in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign.
This man [above] sent in a picture wearing his cousin's headscarf. In the caption, he writes, "I think that one should not talk about freedom if she/he supports the idea of restricting other people's freedom. If only hijab were the only problem in our country, as the authorities would like us to believe. It is as if they have hypnotised our brains with a black piece of cloth and they only want us to believe that hijab is the most important issue in our country." For millions of Iranian women, this compulsory hijab is an insult to their freedom of expression.
In the picture above, the caption wrote, "Does this photo shock you? A group of grown-up men wearing hijabs. Do you find it funny? Does it make any sense? To be frank, you might be tempted to think that it's strange, or even unnatural to see a man in hijab. However, for the past 38 years, women have been forced to wear compulsory hijab, without having a say. Some of these women find the veil on themselves to be unnatural as well as it does not represent their true selves." As an expression of faith, the point of the hijab is that it should be a choice for women to decide.
A compulsory hijab is an insult to both genders. This photo writes, "When the hijab is compulsory, it is not just an insult to women, it is also an insult to men too. Dear men: when the government decrees that the hijab should be mandatory, that automatically means that they see you as unclean, easily provoked and weak. They think that men must be really weak to get excited after seeing just a few strands of loose hair. If you remain silent when women are forced to wear the hijab or when they insult our freedom, then you allow yourselves to be insulted too. Many Iranian men are already supporting us and are fighting shoulder to shoulder with us for women's rights, but we definitely need more of you." Women can't do this alone. It is up to the men to the support women fighting against the practice of compulsory hijab. Hijab is punishing women for men's inability to control themselves, when really, men should just be held accountable for their actions - not women.
While the Iranian men and women involved in the My Stealthy Freedom campaign may seem radical to people in Iran, they are brave and also understand that women deserve to be seen and not hidden. They deserve to be able to dance, sing solo, hold hands with someone they love, and let their hair down, but millions of women in Iran are not free to do these things. Masih Alinejad says, "Women in Iran are breaking the law every day just to be ourselves." In this video, she describes the laws that women have to break just to live. Alinejad says, “I’m a master criminal because the government thinks I have too much hair, too much voice, and I am too much of a woman.” This is exactly the kind of attitude she is inspiring to women in Iran through her My Stealthy Freedom campaign. Removing compulsory hijabs is the first step towards reaching equality and ending the suffering that women have endured in Iran.
Be careful what you do and post
Going to Las Vegas for the weekend is practically a sacramental right of passage in college. It’s so crucial to our early adulthood development that Snapchat even made a filter that says “Vegas for the Weekend.” Damn Snapchat, you really do get it.
But a weekend in Vegas isn’t just about having a 200-second snapstory that annoys all the sober people who watch it. It’s also about other substantial endeavors, such as drinking a lot of expensive liquor, pretending to like EDM music, and pissing off old men.
The best part about Las Vegas is that the entire weekend is practically free, unless you’re a boy of course. For girls, all you have to do is alert somewhat creepy club promoters that your posse is in their city. When they tell you that they’ll get you on the VIP list and give your group free bottle service at their nightclub, they are actually not lying. The only catch is that they might not be in it for your personality. Happens.
Once you’ve lined up half a dozen club promoters to dote on your group all weekend, take in your surroundings. All the glitz and glam and tack and supersized-ness will make you feel like Barbie in her Dream Castle. Plus, open containers are legal, which basically lets you relive your semester abroad. If drinking a Bud Light Lime in front of the fake Eiffel Tower doesn’t get you cultured, I don’t know what will.
When the desert sun has fallen and the Strip is lit up like Scott Disick’s eyes when Kourtney is out of town, it’s time to hit the clubs. The promoters will probably say in order to get free bottle service you have to show up at 10. This is when the games begin. Text all the promoters the lie that “XS’s promoter is offering bottle service AND we don’t have to get to there until midnight.” Next minute, every single one of them will be offering you free late entry and an extra bottle of Patron.
Once you've got them all in the palm of your hands and pick the best deal out of your bargaining, the real Las Vegas will come to life. In reality, you don’t actually have the table the promoter promised you — you just have it until the actual reservation shows up, and you’ll probably feel like an objectified pump-up girl for the duration you’re at the table. Remind yourself that Grey Goose doesn’t see you that way.
You might get lucky and your table won’t get rented out at all, allowing you and your ladies to bring in the sunrise on top of it. However, if you’re sitting at the best spot in Hakkasan and Calvin Harris is performing, expect middle-aged business men to book it out around 1 a.m. Likely, they’ll be overjoyed that a bunch of college chicks are swarming it and invite you all to stay. As tempting as it may be to party with these losers all night, get the F out of there before some 45-year-old housewife starts harassing you on Facebook for being tagged in the same club photo as her dearly beloved.
These days, what happens in Vegas doesn't stay there; it gets posted on SpyOnVegas.com. Be warned.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign