A Fresh Take on the Stock Market

A Fresh Take on the Stock Market

by Emma Baumgartel

When people think about the stock market, they often picture the crooked brokers from The Wolf of Wall Street while the song “Jordan Belfort” starts playing in their head. The stereotype of a stockbroker generally does not conjure images of anyone less than 20 years old, and definitely not an 18-year-old in their childhood bedroom. And yet, in today’s digital society, buying and selling stock is incredibly accessible to young people. With online brokers such as Robinhood and Charles Schwab, a user can sign up and buy multiple shares in a single day. With the lockdowns last summer and the boredom that came with them, more young people decided to turn to retail investing, or non-professional trading of stock or bonds, to try to earn money—and, often, for entertainment.

Many professional investors would consider these young investors (Gen-Z and younger Millennials) to be amateurs. However, with access to investment education through websites like investopedia.com, online courses, and TikToks made by investing enthusiasts, younger people have started teaching themselves about the stock market. At the same time, they are learning the importance of generating long-term wealth. Unlike previous generations, many students are pushing past the intimidation of investing and are ignoring the false idea that investing is only for those who are well-established in their careers.

With the constant problem of mounting student debt, it is easy to see why students are wanting to become more financially literate. Many students understand that it is not easy to be saddled with debt once they graduate. College graduates are also heading into a workforce that looks much different from what their parents faced, and value work-life balance. According to a survey by Dynamic Signal, 39% of Gen-Z workers surveyed say they prioritize a work-life balance over any other job factor. As a result, young investors are turning to stocks as a passive income approach.

What’s more, there has been an increase in young women investors. In the past, the stock market was viewed by some women as male dominated—especially older, white males. Now, with the ease of investing as well as the wealth of information available on the topic, young women are becoming more comfortable with it. There has been an increase of Facebook groups for women investors, as well as financial companies geared toward helping women, such as Ellevest. On social channels like TikTok, women investors are able to learn from more experienced women and men who create oneminute educational videos.

With the digitization of the stock market, as well as social channels, young people are starting to view investing in stocks differently. It is becoming less scary and intimidating and, for many, a real possibility to start growing wealth. If you are a young person who feels intimidated by the stock market, don’t be—it is not only for business moguls. Like anything in life, it can be learned, no matter your age or gender.

About Emma Baumgartel

Emma Baumgartel is an incoming senior at Lake Forest College in Illinois, majoring in Psychology with a minor in English Writing. Baumgartel previously attended Richwoods High School. She has always enjoyed writing—especially about current events and psychology—and believes in advocating for the truth. At Lake Forest, Emma was a writing tutor as well as an editor for Inter-text, LF’s social science journal. Next semester, Baumgartel plans on joining the college newspaper to gain more writing experience. After graduation, Emma is planning on continuing to submit articles to online publications, as well as a blog on Medium.com. She also hopes to land a professional content writing or marketing role.

A Letter from the Future

A Letter from the Future

by Adeline Ferolo

With almost a year approaching since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, I have found myself reminiscing about the past. More specifically, all of the opportunities and small interactions I took for granted in a pre-pandemic world. The following letter is what I wished to receive on March 1, 2020—informing me of everything that is about to change.

Dear Reader,

I am from the future. More specifically, I am writing to you a year from now—Monday, March 1, 2021. Questions are probably sparking in your mind—Who I am? Am I a time traveler from the future? Why am I here… to warn you of a great danger looming ahead? Well, yes… but not exactly.

Before you dismiss this entire message as a hoax, I need you to hear me out. Think of this letter not exactly as a warning from the future, but simply a guiding message. Almost like a relic from the cinematic universe of Tenet directed by Christopher Nolan—Oh, wait. That movie hasn’t been released yet. (You’ll love it by the way!) Anyway, back to the purpose of this letter. There is no easy way to say this, but… a life-threatening virus is rapidly infecting people across the world, and as a result you will spend the next year of your life in lockdown.

The virus is airborne, making it virtually impossible to be in the same space with a stranger without succumbing to an anxiety attack, wondering if they could be infected or a carrier. Hence, schools have shut down. There are no more sports practices or extracurricular meetings. It is ill-advised to travel and possibly fatal to eat inside a restaurant. Life as you currently live it will seem foreign a year from now. Even the smallest joys have become romanticized memories of the past. Remember the buzzing energy of a varsity volleyball game during warm-ups? Well, the pounding bass of music, nervous glances at teammates, and spirited pep-talks are now just moments from an unattainable past. This information may be shocking, even frustrating—I get it. From spending late Friday nights at the movie theatre surrounded by the smell of buttery popcorn and the laughter of friends, to cheering your classmates on during packed pep-assemblies in the gym—these experiences are the ones I miss the most. Now you understand why I am writing to you, right?

Now it may be overwhelming to learn about the whole worldwide pandemic thing, but take a deep breath! All I can say is enjoy life just a little bit more right now. In a few months, it might feel like everything has become uprooted and totally out of control, but life will go on. You will continue to learn, grow, and have fun, even though it doesn’t look like it used to. And by the end of it, you’ll be able to look at life with a head-on, “try-me” mentality.


Someone from the Future </3

P.S. I attached some proof for the non-believers in the back.

About Adeline Ferolo

Stories, arguably, are the most underrated form of currency that floods the digital world, through highlighted Instagram posts and viral YouTube videos. As a rising senior at Richwoods High School, Adeline Ferolo aims to express herself and the issues closest to her authentically through engaging, storytelling, and other mediums. She is a competitively academic student. Her interests range across many creative outlets—as an active writer for the Richwoods Shield, the monthly school newspaper, and as a contributor to the youth-led blog EnviroWrite, which explores rising environmental concerns. Recently she has discovered her passion for the medium of film after attending the National High School Institute summer program at Northwestern University, where she had previously studied creative-intensive subjects ranging from sustainable architecture to graphic design. Within the past year, she has focused her efforts on exploring the visual medium in both her academic and personal life, opting to create experimental videos for class projects and continuing to explore different aspects of the visual language.

Fixing a Broken System

Fixing a Broken System

by Trent Miles

It comes as a great shock to discover that the country to which you have pledged allegiance has not pledged allegiance to you. I say this because the United States Criminal Justice system is broken. According to the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics 2,203 Black men per 100,000 were held in state or federal prisons in the U.S. during 2019 after being sentenced—roughly one in 45. I choose to write this because, based on recent headlines, it seems that many do not understand how unfair our criminal justice system is—let alone how antithetical it has become to our core constitutional rights.

The storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 was a dark day in American history for many reasons. It also revealed a double-standard. How would this attack have been handled differently by police if had been carried out by African Americans instead of white right-wing insurrectionists? The world watched the 2020 Black Lives Matter demonstrations that began after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. When protesters hit the streets in Washington, the police and National Guard were out in force. In Washington D.C., Humvees occupied street corners and officers were mobilized to defend federal buildings. On January 6, not only did they not seem to be prepared—but a few officers were even later found to have helped.

In short, we have a massive double standard between the level of accountability that the government holds for themselves and for minority groups. Racism is built into the DNA of America—and as long as we turn a blind eye to the pain of those suffering under its oppression, we will never escape those origins. We cannot move on without realizing the harsh reality we are faced with. Real change can only be possible if we understand that there is a divide and take action to fix it.

It is not the work of any particular politician nor party to get America back together and restore what is damaged. All of us have to do our part to speak out, be heard, and to share and understand factual information that can benefit us all. Only then will we finally live in a country where equality is granted to all citizens regardless of skin color, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Take this time to sit down and have a conversation with children and young adults about what they can do to promote racial equality. In doing so, we will support our country’s need to unite and transform into a nation that reflects what truly matters: democracy, peace, equality, and love. I want to leave you with words from Cesar Chavez: “We are convinced that non-violence is more powerful than violence. If you use violence, you have to sell part of yourself for that violence. Then you are no longer a master of your own struggle.”

About Trent Miles

Trent Miles is a senior at Richwoods High School and has been working for Big Picture Initiative since May 2020. He is academically competitive and a well-rounded student. Trent is the founder of his school’s Climate Action Club, Vice President of the Minority Academic Advancement Project, and a contributing Op-Ed writer for The Shield (school newspaper). Outside of school, he is heavily involved in Jack and Jill of America, where he currently serves as the Chapter Legislative Chair. Trent is also a writing intern for the New York-based platform LORYN, where he manages the featured artist page, interviews artists, finds talent, and more. He has earned several writing and Presidential Community Service awards. Trent contributed more than 1,000 hours of community service through various service projects, including a winter wear drive, collecting toiletries, and helping at the Neighborhood House in Peoria, Illinois.

Represent Us Correctly

Represent Us Correctly

by Jenin Mannaa

The recent diversity portrayed in movies like Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians has been invigorating to people of color who crave representation in the media. However, as Naveed A. Khan declares in his poem Make Up Your Mind, “Diversity is not a flavor of coffee or a special pastry for you to pick and choose to your liking.” And recently, Netflix has been treating the representation of Muslim women as if it was an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.

The release of Netflix’s Cuties incited a wave of controversy that stemmed from the character arc of Amy, a West African Muslim girl that becomes fascinated with a free spirited dance crew. In an effort to liberate herself from the “oppressive clutches” of her religion, she removes her hijab and gives in to her desire to twerk with friends. In one scene in the film, she even watches twerking videos on a stolen cell phone during a prayer service. However, Amy Nicholson from Variety describes one of the most “powerful scenes” in the movie. When Amy’s aunt attempts to make Amy repent for her sins, Amy thrashes violently out of resentment. Nicholson observes, “The flailing girl looks like she’s suffering—and she also looks like she’s twerking.”

After reading this review, I had to laugh. Hollywood’s obsession with Muslim women removing their hijab and choosing sexual ethics over their faith is exasperating. It pushes the idea that Muslim women are oppressed, when liberation is characterized by the ability to choose what you want to wear or cover. Writers and directors are put in a position of influence, yet they persistently refuse to research the narratives of the people they are representing.

Commonly, non-Muslim people believe that women wear a hijab because it serves as a form of protection from the sexual wantonness of men. They believe that a woman wearing a hijab is akin to a pearl in an oyster, encouraging the notion that precious objects are meant to be hidden. On the contrary, wearing the hijab is indicative of a woman’s desire to be valued separately from her sexuality. That being said, sexual harassment can only ever be attributed to immorality and never to what an individual is wearing.

So, in an effort to debunk the media’s muddled perceptions of Islam, I will delineate the only real reason Muslim women choose to wear the hijab: to display that they are Muslim. To wear the hijab is to show belief in Allah (Allah is the Arabic word for God) and His prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslim women do not wear the hijab for the sake of their husbands, fathers, or brothers— or to abstain from joining dance groups with underaged girls. Hollywood continuously exploits the stereotypes circulating about Islam. While representation in the media is necessary, it is imperative to understand a religion before misconstruing its principles. For the sake of Muslim women around the world, and the young women wearing hijabis to come—represent us correctly.

About Jenin Mannaa

Jenin Mannaa is a rising senior at Dunlap High School. Her stellar academic performance has granted her entrance to the National Honors Society at her school. Jenin has expressed her love for advocacy through her involvement on the Dunlap Speech Team as Junior and Senior Captain. Within speech, her primary goal has been expressing her identity as a Muslim American woman. Jenin attended IHSA State for Oratorical Declamation her junior year of high school. Within her speech team, she was also awarded Sophomore and Junior MVP. Jenin’s passion for the arts is evident through her involvement in Stage 323, where she was inducted in the International Thespian Society. She has also been involved in Concert Choir, Women’s Chorale, and Show Choir throughout her high school career. Moreover, her devotion to garnering support for ethnic minorities motivated Jenin to create Dunlap’s UNICEF Club, which educates students about the tribulations of underprivileged individuals in impoverished countries. Within UNICEF, she leads fundraisers, and within the first few months of the club she raised approximately $500. During her summers, Jenin has spent over 200 hours volunteering at the Unity-Point Methodist Hospital within the daycare or shadowing various doctors within Peoria.

About Sophie Liu 

Sophie Liu is a senior at Dunlap High School who has won numerous art prizes such as the Scholastic Art and Writing Gold Key Award and several honorable mentions. As someone who also values academics, business, and volunteering, she has participated in and led many activities in her community. Her volunteering contribution has awarded her the Gold President’s Volunteer Service Award. She is one of the club leaders of her school’s Interact Volunteering Club. During her summers, Liu has participated in several business camps such as Kelley Business’s Young Women’s Institute, where she has gained knowledge and experience in her passion. She also runs her own online art business where she creates commissioned art pieces and gains firsthand business experience. Liu plans to continue her love of business, volunteering, and art in college, where she will major in either Marketing or Business Analytics and minor in art.

A History Observed

A History Observed

by Izaak Garcia

The scent of various spices and aromas travels around the room, filling your nostrils and turning the heads of family and friends. Someone says, “OH Lawd, have mercy! You got this kitchen smelling good, don’t you?” It’s one of the best things you could hear from your Black family right before Thanksgiving is served. You look around at all the ingredients that were used in this beautiful medley of food—from collard greens, chitterlings, and turkey, to peach cobbler and, of course, sweet potato pie. You look up again, away from the food, and see everyone’s faces. Some are smiling, the wrinkles creating maps across their faces. Some are laughing—a sound that could fill an entire stadium with love. And some are like you, looking around, just enjoying one another’s company. As you all gather around the dinner table, with everyone’s hands interlocked, there is no other place in the world you would rather be.

A couple thousand miles to the south, there is a house in Mexico. Outside the house, the air is hot, the sun beats down on the pavement, and every time a small lick of wind blows by it is a blessing. A few cars scatter the length of the street, and the houses stand stoically side by side, unyielding. You look across the street and there is an old man with a straw hat, sitting in a plastic chair on his porch, waving his hat and fanning the hot air onto his creased face. It is lonely. No one else is walking down the street, and not even a stray cat can be seen slinking between the shade of the houses. But, inside the house, the atmosphere changes instantly—you are greeted by aromas that you did not even know could exist. The bass of the reggaeton music beats relentlessly to the rhythm, and some family members are even dancing, laughing as they do so. Spanish words fly around the room. A member of the family tells someone else to do this or that— to add more salt to the soup, more spice to the tamales, or scolds the younger ones for creeping too close to the desert table, thinking they can get a small taste of the sweetness that is going to come.

These are interactions with my family and friends. This is my culture, my people, and my history. It isn’t the history of how they came to America, or their struggle for civil rights, or even their story of where they came from. It is the history that they are making right now and the memories that will stay with me and the other young children for a lifetime. All people of the world have their histories and stories of their ancestors. As the upcoming generation, understanding these histories will help us go farther than anyone before us. And all we need to do is share them with each other.

About Izaak Garcia

Izaak Garcia is currently a senior at Richwoods High School, enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program. After high school, Garcia plans to study Computer Science. He has played soccer with FC Peoria and Richwoods for over a decade combined. Garcia has also played tennis for 4 years, securing a spot on both junior varsity and varsity teams. Along with this, he has competed with the Richwoods Worldwide Youth Science and Engineering team for Biology and Computer Science for 2 years and earned multiple awards for the school. Garcia is also heavily involved with the arts. As a multi-instrumentalist, he has played the saxophone for 8 years and piano for 2 years. During his junior year of high school, he was involved in theater at Richwoods as stage crew and manager. He helped with two total productions and was being trained to be stage manager for senior year before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted school. Outside of school activities, Garcia is involved in Jack and Jill of America (an organization for young African American men and women to serve the community). He served as his chapter’s treasurer during his freshman year of high school. Along with Jack and Jill of America, he enjoys coding, learning new coding languages, and video games.

Keep the Ball Bouncing

Keep the Ball Bouncing

by Gabe Gross

Athletes all over the world are dealing with loss. Without organized sports, kids can fall into difficult situations. Athletics keeps teens occupied and in shape physically and mentally. Personally speaking, having played sports for nearly half my life, I am sad to miss out on chances to watch and play this year. Basketball is a very important activity in Peoria for players, coaches, and fans alike.

Typically, my winters are spent watching the Bradley Braves with friends and family. I miss many aspects of attending games, such as packing into Carver Arena, surrounded by a large crowd of fans decked out in red and white. As I think back on the experience, I instantly smell fresh popcorn, and recall greeting my grandparents as they walked down the aisle. And I think of Ja’Shon Henry and Ville Tahvaneainen, who play for Bradley, and how they are leaders on their team and real-life role models. I admire how the Bradley Braves are making the most of their season by giving it their all. They had a positive attitude and practiced hard individually during the quarantine.

On a personal level, my school teammates and I missed out on our entire 7th grade season. It is normally exhilarating to compete alongside them, and certainly more fun to practice basketball in a group. My teammates and I used to give each other high fives as we warmed up, and cheered one other on from the bench. Our coaches huddled us together giving advice, helping us become better players and people. During games, my family was very supportive. I heard them shout words of encouragement from the stands.

But like the Bradley Braves, players at every level can make themselves better—even in a pandemic. To gain a coaching perspective on what young players can do, I spoke to longtime local basketball coach Tim Wyman. He advises athletes to stay in shape and work on their development. “Build your body not just for basketball, but for health as an adult,” he observes. Coaches, like players, are also missing out this year. Coach Wyman notes, “I miss competing. I miss teaching the game and watching my players improve.” Area middle school coach Matt Gross says, “Players should be working on their individual skills and free throws. I am looking forward to getting back on the court next year, being a part of the team, and just being amongst people again.” Personally, I have been going to the gym to practice and keep my skills tight. Players that do not have access to a gym can dribble in their driveway or run to keep in shape.

Like many people, dear reader, you might find yourself longing for fun. Even though we cannot play competitively, it can be a learning year. We are preparing for the good that will eventually come. We need to set goals for what we want to strive for and achieve. Don’t give up—make yourself a better person and player. If we work hard now, then we will be able to come back strong.

About Gabe Gross 

Gabriel Gross is a 7th grader at St. Thomas Catholic School of Peoria where he serves as Student Council Secretary. He plays many sports, including basketball, baseball, tennis, and soccer. Gross enjoys drawing, creating comics, playing ping pong, hiking, video games, and traveling. He kept busy in 2020 outdoors with fellow artists and neighbors, filming a movie, and creating pop-up street art. In spare moments, he can be found playing fetch with neighborhood dogs. Gross plans to apply to the International Baccalaureate program at Richwoods High School. Some of his future interests are studying history, teaching, and coaching youth sports.



by Alayna Steward

Content Warning: This article discusses gender dysphoria and body image.

My body has always been different. Not just in the way that “all bodies are different and diverse,” because I know that. No, mine was different in another way. A way that set me apart from not only from my peers, but from my family.

I overcompensated in my presentation of myself throughout my school years. I wore cutesy dresses and frilly skirts, shoes that made my feet hurt, and over-styled my hair to the point where it was dry and damaged. I even wore makeup every day from the time I entered sixth grade to my junior year. Part of this presentation was due to the fact that I thought girls were just supposed to be that way—and part of it was pressure from my parents to look good. I remember the day my stepmother told me to “dress like every day is picture day.” I looked cute, but it was fake. All of it.

I was uncomfortable in my clothes and in my body. I looked in the mirror and told myself that I loved what I saw, but I was lying. I was bigger, taller, and curvier than most of my friends. I hated how wide my hips were, how broad my shoulders were. No matter how much I told myself that girls could look like this— that girls did look like this—I never felt better. But I loved looking at women whose bodies defied that standard… that “normality.” I loved them and their bodies.

So why couldn’t I love my body?

When I entered high school, I wanted to chop off my hair. I didn’t like how long it was. Yet I kept it long up until my last semester, because it would be hard to put it into a ponytail for cheerleading. I thought it would look weird with my body type. Because, according to my father, boys didn’t like girls with short hair.

I cut almost all of it off last summer.

The disconnect between me and my body continued into college. Nothing felt right. Everything was uncomfortable. I couldn’t look at my own reflection without feeling self-hatred. I felt like my mind was simply inhabiting my body, and not one with it.

Then my friend got me my first chest binder. I stared at myself in the mirror when I tried it on—pressing my hand against my chest, now flat, gaping at how much I looked like… myself.

Last summer, I realized I was nonbinary. I was not a girl. I was not a boy. That realization was like a puzzle piece that had been missing for nineteen years, and now that I had found it, the puzzle was complete. Everything clicked into place. It made sense. My body is nonbinary. I am nonbinary. And I love my body.

My experiences are not universal. This story will not apply to all trans people. But I hope it will help some.

Click here for a great resource to learn more about queer identities as well as how to support and protect trans and nonbinary folx.

About Alayna Steward

Alayna Steward is a sophomore at Bradley University majoring in Music Business. They have been invested in music and writing their entire life. They are involved in a few musical groups on campus, including Bradley Chorale. They like strawberries, the color yellow, and cats. As a queer disabled person, Steward understands the importance of creative and self expression and having your voice be heard. They hope that their work will not only inspire readers, but also give them a voice and let them know that they are not alone.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Aryanne “Ary” Westfall is a sophomore at Bradley University majoring in Animation and minoring in Theatre Arts. She is pursuing a career as a storyboard artist and enjoys creating graphic novels in her free time. As a member of the Digital Art Team, Westfall spends her time connecting with other artists and creating as much as she can.

Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet Diet

Intuitive Eating: The Anti-Diet Diet

by Elizabeth Setti

With the fitness and health industry continuously coming up with new fad diets, having a guilt-free approach to food might seem impossible. As a society we have segregated foods into “good” and “bad” categories, which has resulted in an unhealthy relationship with food. Therefore, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch coined the concept of “intuitive eating” in 1995 and published a book on the topic. The book helped people who suffered from eating disorders or struggled with their relationship to food. It introduced a new outlook on food that was opposite of any other common diet. The central idea of intuitive eating is noticing hunger and eating to satisfy it, but not overeating to the point of discomfort. To some the notion might seem elementary, however for some it is a difficult practice to implement.

In my personal experience of battling Anorexia and fighting to normalize my relationship with food, eating intuitively has been a challenge. Prior to my Anorexia, I never thought twice about what I was consuming. Simply, I ate food when I noticed hunger but stopped eating when I was full and satisfied. But those days of freedom are gone, and now it seems as if food is always on my mind. Even if someone does not have an eating disorder background, it is still good to acknowledge the signals that the body is sending and apply intuitive eating. Ignoring hunger can lead to metabolism issues, low energy, and many other negative biological and mental problems.

With intuitive eating, foods are perceived as neutral. Embracing this outlook will help with guilt that can ensue after honoring a craving. Eating a cookie does not mean failure—because it is just food, after all! Therefore, if you are craving a cookie, eat with enjoyment but stop once satisfaction is reached. Noticing your body’s reaction and practicing mindfulness is crucial—which means realizing that eating an entire box of cookies will not result in a good feeling.

Practicing intuitive eating can be daunting because there may be a fear of weight gain, or the perception that you are not eating healthily. But as a society we should focus more on living for experience rather than the appearance of our bodies. Anorexia caused me to miss out on a plethora of social and family events because I was afraid of the food I might encounter. Intuitive eating has helped me start my journey to find food freedom and not bully myself for nourishing my body with what it deserves. Implementing intuitive eating instead of forcing another harmful diet allows for the focus to shift from appearance to experience.

To learn more about intuitive eating please visit intuitiveeating.org.

About Elizabeth Setti

Elizabeth Setti is a junior at Richwoods High School in the International Baccalaureate program. Setti plays volleyball for both Richwoods and Central Illinois Elite Volleyball Club, where she has the opportunity to travel throughout the Midwest and compete at high levels. She is the editor (and previously a writer) for the sports section of “Richwoods Shield,” her school’s newspaper. Setti serves on the student leadership team and Noble Knights, and is a member of her school’s science club. She was recently diagnosed with Anorexia-Nervosa, which she developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She feels it is important to share her story and spread awareness about eating disorders. As such, Setti created a blog called “A Hidden Addiction,” where she tells her story and her journey to recovery.

About Adrien Vozenilek

Adrien Vozenilek is a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School. Currently, their focus is portraying family history and their Italian heritage through 2D works centered around heirlooms. Adrien will be a freshman at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and plans to become an art therapist for LGBTQ+ youth.

Love Black Women’s Hair

Love Black Women’s Hair

by Kianna Goss

Black women’s use of hairstyles is a form of self-expression. Our hair shows who we are and the evolution of Black women’s culture. The breadth of Black hair culture ranges from fros to braids, natural curls to weaves, and more. Therefore, when Black women feel that their hair is not properly cared for, it takes away a part of their identity.

The cases of Black women’s hair being neglected in Hollywood is no secret, especially as many actresses have come forward in the media. On January 26, Insider did an interview with former Disney channel star Monique Coleman, where she opened up about her reasons for wearing headbands in the film High School Musical for the celebration of the movie’s 15th anniversary. Speaking about the Taylor McKessie character she portrayed, Coleman revealed: “But the truth is, that they had done my hair, and they had done it very poorly in the front.”

In 2017, actress Gabrielle Union wrote an essay for Glamour where she mentioned that when she first started in Hollywood, many hairstylists were not qualified to do her hair. This resulted in hair loss after being styled. After these experiences, she began to get her hair done somewhere else before coming on set.

In another example, Candice Patton—known for her famous role as Iris West on the television series The Flash—opened up about beauty representation at a SXSW panel in 2019. Patton mentioned that after being styled and having her makeup done, she did not feel beautiful because the stylist did not know how to work with her hair or skin.

Although more Black women are being cast in Hollywood productions, these hair styling issues persist. As a young woman of color, when we see other women of color, we want accurate beauty representations. When a Black actress is cast in a lead role, they often have straightened hair—but this does not represent Black women’s culture. The styling of a Black woman’s hair should make her feel powerful, not uncomfortable.

Felicia Leatherwood, a hair stylist for Issa Rae on the television show Insecure, has broken the barrier for Black women. In an interview with Nylon in 2020, Leatherwood mentions that she loves to represent the natural hair community. “The fact that I get to work on clients that absolutely love their natural hair and want to showcase that on the red carpet and on the big screen gives me so much joy,” she proclaims.

We as a society have to start breaking apart barriers. When we watch a show or movie with someone who looks like us and there is a false representation, we should call for action. Social media is a strong platform to use your voice against the neglect of Black women’s hair in Hollywood.

Black women need to be loved and protected, and that includes our hair. In a society that ignores the artistry of Black women’s hair, we need to love it—because it is beautiful.

About Kianna Goss

Kianna Goss is a junior at Bradley University, majoring in journalism with a double minor in sociology and advertising with public relations. Community involvement requires the use of one’s voice; in Goss’s case, her voice, which she expresses through writing, is one of the strongest platforms she has. Being a Black woman, Goss often writes to give a voice to the Black community. In doing so, she gains control over a media narrative that portrays the Black community in a negative way. As a writer who expresses herself through many different forms expressions, she has written poetry, blogs, newspaper articles, and opinion pieces. She is always looking for more opportunities to grow as a writer and personally. Goss is involved in many organizations at Bradley University. She is currently the marketing/ communications director for Bradley’s Communication Agency, a peer mentor for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, a writer for the student newspaper The Bradley Scout, and a caller at the Bradley Fund. Being able to explore her creativity is what Goss loves most about Bradley. The Communications department is molding her into the journalist she aspire to be.

21st Century Rosie the Riveter

21st Century Rosie the Riveter

by Kratika Tandon

“The best protection any woman can have is courage,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said. She was a suffragist, social activist, abolitionist, and leading figure of the early women’s rights movement. Women’s rights advocates promote a position of legal and social equality for women. March is Women’s History Month, so let’s take a glimpse back in time to reveal how diligently women have fought for equal rights—from the suffragists movement, to the feminist crusade of the 1970s, and today.

The term “suffrage” refers to the right to vote in an election. A century ago, most white men had the right to vote, regardless of how much property or money they had. Our modern women’s rights movement began with a convention held in Seneca Falls, New York. Activists Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the meeting. The two were heavily involved with the abolitionist movement, and this is where they were first introduced to activist Susan B. Anthony. As the article “Women’s Suffrage Movement” from History.com explains, Stanton and Anthony immediately hit it off, and eventually created the Women’s National Loyal League in 1863. This organization worked towards abolishing slavery and campaigning for full citizenship for women and Black Americans. When women finally achieved the right to vote in 1920, it only applied to white women. It took nearly half a century longer for the Voting Rights Act to pass, which granted minority groups the right to vote.

The next substantial event in the history of women’s rights was the feminist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. Esther Peterson was the director of the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor in 1960, and she believed it was the government’s responsibility to address issues of discrimination. Swayed by Peterson, President Kennedy summoned a Commission on the Status of Women. The group uncovered discrimination against women in every single aspect of American life (Eisenberg, Bonnie and Ruthsdotter, Mary). For many, this was a call to action, resulting in the creation of laws against sex-discrimination— including the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Women began marching and protesting for their rights in a movement that is known as Second Wave Feminism. New groups started informing society about sexism and gender inequality.

But decades later, in 2021, women are still not afforded equal rights or treatment. Women are still paid approximately 80% of what men make (U.S. Census Bureau). Based on recent statistics, the pay gap will not close up until the year 2152 (Miller). As we look back, we must continue to recognize the strong women who dared to speak up. Women are currently allowed to vote, work, enroll in the armed forces, and more because of their brave actions. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done—for instance, the Equal Rights Amendment still has yet to pass. We must continue to fight so that one day we can have a society in which the lines of gender segregation are gone once and for all.

About Kratika Tandon

Kratika Tandon is an incoming freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is majoring in biology and graduating with a minor in environmental economics and policy. She graduated from Dunlap High School as class valedictorian. Tandon is incredibly passionate about sustainability. As such, she is interested in many different career paths that involve helping the environment. She is most interested in writing about the subjects of environmental issues, social justice, life during a pandemic, and racial equity. She is proficient in informative and expository writing as well as public speaking. Tandon was a part of her high school’s speech team for four years. This past season, she competed in two events at the state championship tournament: original oratory and informative speaking. She wrote and perfected these speeches on her own, both tackling specific topics dealing with the environment. Tandon was also the president of her school’s local Interact Club. She possesses great leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. She is participating with Giving Voice because she wants to use her voice and writing to inspire others and facilitate change.

About Cailyn Talamonti 

Cailyn Talamonti (Manhattan, IL) is a senior at Bradley University. In May 2021, Talamonti will be graduating with a major in Animation and a minor in Graphic Design. She currently works as a freelance artist and designer, creating content for local bands, companies, and others. One day, she wants to be a webcomic artist. Her work is available at cailyntalamonti.com.