Category Archives: fads

What Queen Latifah means to us

Queen Latifah

by Selena Williams

She’s big and bossy. And what we like most about her is how she knows how to relate to people — with her touch, her eyes, her music.

To all of us in West Oakland, she’s more than glitter, she’s real.

She speaks her mind. For instance, she supports gays and lesbians, and rode in a pride parade. In her hometown in New Jersey, she offers scholarships to minority students in honor of her brother who died in a motorcycle accident.

“She is like a song that never gets old, like Oprah,” said Janaya Andrews, a sophomore at McClymonds.

She’s been around a long time. Queen Latifah burst onto the scene in 1989, one of three hip-hop artists to receive an Academy Award nomination in an acting category.

From her rap origins, she evolved into an actress, jazz singer and icon of classic good taste, without ever losing her edge. “I’m not that into trends,” she says, for starters. “I do my thing.”

Unlike Wendy Williams and Oprah, she adds comedy and originality to her show.

She’s also a plus-size spokesperson for CoverGirl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear, Pizza Hut and Jenny Craig. She represents her own line of cosmetics for women of color with CoverGirl Queen Collection.  Latifah changed the game, becoming a role model  for Black girls in West Oakland.

For those of us who don’t look like Britney Spears or Madonna, Latifah was the artist to follow and relate to.  Black women were no longer  eye-candy in hip-hop or rap videos: they took control of the mic.  Few artists have had a bigger impact on West Oakland youth.

Now Queen Latifah returns to daytime television with a new talk show.

Co-produced by the hip Will Smith, through his production company Overbrook Entertainment, it features the  usual celebrity interviews, hot topics and pop culture tropes and top tier musical acts.

For me, Queen Latifah is an idol who shows me that you can be famous as a musician and successful as a businesswoman.

From President Obama to Miley Cyrus: selfies tell a story

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Valentine’s Day: cupcakes and kisses

valentinesby Nicole Funes, photo by Anthony Beron

When Genesis Johnson and Walter Nathaniel, two McClymonds 10th graders, celebrate Valentine’s Day on Friday, they won’t be exchanging balloons bought at school or hearing singing telegrams. They may just kiss quickly in the hallway. Or buy each other $1 homemade cupcakes.

By Monday afternoon, about 10 students had already filled out forms to deliver cupcakes to their valentines at school on Friday, said Colleen Piper, Spanish teacher who advises the student council and is baking cupcakes for Friday.

Daishawn Shannon, 11th grade, sent himself a message with the cupcake he bought. “I wasn’t going to buy any for anybody at this school. Nobody.” In his note, he wrote “I love myself.”

“We may have gotten a late start,” says Alexis Hill,11th grader and a member of the student council that organized the event. “But it’ll be a success.”

The money raised will be donated toward school events; for instance, for prom tickets and college T-shirts for students who work hard, said Piper.

“I’m glad that we’re doing something for school spirit,” said Johnson. Piper added, “Valentine’s offers us a day to make someone smile and share appreciation for others.”

YOLO event: gummie bears as roofies warn of party dangers

YOLOphoto

by Nicole Funes

Mock party. Juice instead of scotch. Gummie bears surreptitiously dropped into drinks, like roofies (rohyphnol, a “date rape” drug that renders victims unconscious)

Another creative YOLO event.

About two dozen students participated in the mock party Wednesday after school, organized by Youth Organizing Leadership Opportunities (YOLO).

“The kids wanted to do a party and everything we do has to have a message so we decide to do a (mock tale) party to talk about the negative effects on drugs and alcohol at a party,” said youth organizer  Kharyshi Wiginton.

“This event was a success because many people came and they were all engaged,” she added.

Take Erin Nicholson, a senior and YOLO leader. She was sipping a cup of juice and when she set it on the table, someone slipped a gummy bear in her cup. She noticed only when she got to the bottom of her drink. “The lesson was that students don’t have to go to parties to get turned up and there are other ways to have fun,” she said.

The activity was the second in a series to counter violence in West Oakland. In October, several students marched to DeFremery Park to Life is Living Festival with signs  to promote peace.

“We also planned this event to encourage people to break the cycle of drugs violence and dysfunction,” added Wiginton.

Ink of Art

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By Luckie Lovette

For most students at McClymonds, tattoos represent overcoming trauma or celebrating memory. The tattoos range from symbols like ankh to dates, names of loved ones or flowers.

Ask any student at McClymonds why he or she decided to get a tattoo and the responses range from remembering loved ones to celebrating newborns.

As for its legality, none of the students knew that in California, it is illegal for anyone under 18 (with or without parental permission) to get a tattoo. Most Mack students have had their tattoos done by friends or at tattoo parlors that cater to minors.

There’s nothing new about tattoos. Look at Japanese art and you’ll see warriors with tattoos of their battles or Polynesian tribes where the word tattoo derives from tatus.

Tattoos are trendy today, especially among teens.  With or without parental permission, some kids sneak out and get tattoos, hiding them with long sleeve shirts.  Or it could be a simple “ink hook up.”  In most cases, people preferred their name or that of their loved one to be inked on their body. People chose to get their arms, hands or shoulders designed in special cursive letters, graffiti letters, or fun letter and number fonts.

Gradually, tattoo lovers started exploring new ideas.

However, most students says they have been discriminated against and profiled because of their body art; adults think that a person who has a large tattoo must be affiliated with gangs and violence, which is not true for most people. Some argue that it’s just art, and not prison related.

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Monte Smith, a senior

Smith says his arm tattoos represent “Family, reminiscence, lost loved ones and prosperity.”

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Jermaine McCaints, a senior

Says his tattoos represent “Family”, with special colors of roses, which cost over $300 “Family is important to me because we all stick together as one,” said McCaints.

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Lavance Warren, a junior

His tattoo reads: “Rose.” He dedicated his art to his grandmother to remember her.  “I got my tattoo to remember my grandmother for making a big impact on my life,” said Warren.

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Luckie Lovette, a senior

His tattoo reads “1800”. Which is the block of 18th street and Linden.  “It’s home,” said Lovette.  Although the tattoo is designed in a style of a gang banger, it was transformed to remember his childhood home. “It give an appearance of an illusion to make people think twice what am I?” said Lovette.

DSCF2422Erin Nicholson, a senior

Her tattoo reads “De’miyah” which is the name of her niece.

“She’s my love, she’s my first niece, and she’s my little angel. I got her name tatted so I can remember her everyday,” said Nicholson.

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Jonae Scott, a senior

Has a tattoo of her niece’s name “Ja’dore.”

“It means I own my skin, and I love my niece, she means everything to me,” said Scott.

DSCF2421Shamiela Watkins, a senior

“It just simply means a symbol of life,” said Watkins .

“Some get tattoos for the heck of it but I got mine to enjoy the quality of a positive life,” said Watkins.

“It didn’t hurt as much, but it was worth the cost,” said Watkins.

Better, faster, livelier: why GTA 5 rules

gta-5by Jacob Miles

In Los Santos, 17-year-old Andre Price plays big dreamer Franklin, out-from-Witness-Protection Michael and hustler Trevor. He races a Rari at 110 mph, wields shotguns and manages to amass $600,000. Of course, that puts him in 1st place in the world of Grand Theft Auto V, the latest version of the popular video game.

It’s the talk at Mack, and at schools throughout the Bay. Released just a month ago, it has sold out in one week everywhere, making Rockstar Games, the creators of GTA, over $1 billion, according to press reports.

“To me Grand Theft Auto V is the best game I have played and keeps me on the action of the game for several hours,” said Randall Coleman, a senior. He says the game’s dialogue is so realistic that it takes you to another world. It’s also a game in which your character sweats through his clothes when he runs; crash barriers on freeway medians work; flip flops actually flip and flop.

But beware of downloading a version on your PC: it isn’t out yet and any version you can filth will come back to phish you, or infect you with a virus.

The Chicago Tribune reports that those downloading GTA for PC use from torrent sites are encountering malware.

There are also no breaks for transferring your skils: the game maker says that users who will repeat missions on the online version will only receive half of the reward money the second time around. Bummer.

Grand Theft Auto V, 15th title in the series,  was released last month with much buzz for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

The game is set mainly within the fictional state of San Andreas (based on Southern California) and lets the player roam the countryside and the fictional city of Los Santos (based on Los Angeles). The story is told through three player-controlled protagonists among whom the player switches and it follows their efforts to plan and execute six heists to accrue wealth.

It took Price most of the night to beat the game, but he says it was worth it.  “It takes the whole online experience of racing and having shootouts to a whole new level, a player’s paradise.”

Sneakerheads: the seductive appeal of Jordans

quaylin jordans

opinion piece

by Janaya Andrews

What’s the deal with Jordan shoes: these sneakers are taking over the world and  people will do anything to get them, even if  it  means selling them for money to get a new pair or stealing them when there are other shoes. Lots of other shoes.

You mostly see these shoes more than you see other shoes on people’s feet.

Why this obsession? There are sneakerheads and people are flipping AirJordans and  Foamposites at Sneaker Conventions. You must be kidding? Sneaker conventions?

I guess if they don’t have their designer sneakers,  then they  don’t  feel like they belong. Sad state of affairs, when your friends judge you on the brand of sneakers you wear.

Even sadder that people get shot waiting on line to buy those $1,500 Paranorman Foamposites or $185 AirJordan V Bel Airs. In Wilmington, Delaware and in  Las Vegas, guys camped out to wait for their release, only to be shot.

It doesn’t make you original, only an OG. You are just following  in someone’s footsteps just because you want to be popular or just fit in.

Teens say that they  buy Jordans because “they  look  nice  and  they’re popular,” in the words of freshman Quaylin Wesley.  “They’re expensive and the  main topic to talk about  in  school,” he added.

In West Oakland (and East), they add status. “It says something about how brave you are, how much clout you have, how much nerve you have,”says Yale sociologist Elijah Anderson about the street value of shoes.

But much of the real value is to Nike, and other big brands profiting from the sales of these shoes, turning athletic shoe market into a $21 billion a year industry.  New sneakers may sell for up to  $270 for a pair, all because Michael Jordan and other basketball stars put their name and logo on the shoes. 

Just DON’T do it. Just be you .