Skin Deep

We just wanted you to know how much we love and appreciate you! Thank you for everything you do for us. -)

Story By: Madeline Baker

I’ve had acne for as long as I can remember. Seriously, the combination of my parents’ genes was just not conducive to clear skin. In kindergarten, one of my fellow classmates asked me why I had so many ant bites on my forehead. I was confused because 1) I definitely would know if ants had bitten me on my forehead and I could not recall this happening, and 2) what did she mean? What was wrong with my forehead? In kindergarten my skin wasn’t bad at all. I had a few really small blemishes but that was probably from running around and sweating all the time. I never washed my face either, so I couldn’t tell you how dirty my skin was at that point. It wasn’t until around 4th or 5th grade that my skin really became a problem. I had full on breakouts that covered my face. They weren’t deep or painful, and I wouldn’t say I had chronic acne, but it was obvious that they weren’t going to go away anytime soon. I was never really teased for my skin, but it certainly felt like I was the only one with this problem. I was washing my face with Neutrogena before I was wearing a sports bra. I bought my first tube of concealer, a color way too orange for my own skin tone, before I was even allowed to stay up past 10pm. I was embarrassed, and no one in my class could relate to the same struggle (or so I thought?).


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When Hollywood, trivia, fashion, and silly jokes go into martini shaker and produce a novel: an interview with Julia Clairborne Johnson

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Story By: Pinky Hossain

As I near the end of my fourth year, I am forced to contend with the repercussions of one of the most important decisions I have made thus far: being a creative writing major. Yes, it comes with its fair share of preconceived notions, like a future involving the barista, the cardboard box, the mother’s basement, and all the rest, but there is one thing that every writer will tell you: they are crazy about writing. That’s what I saw in Julia Clairborne Johnson, a UVA alumna who just published her new book, Be Frank with Me. She reaffirmed a lot of things about writing for me — how experience shapes your writing, how much toiling is involved in the writing process, and how money can’t be the reason that you write. As Julia put it, “Novelists don’t make a lot of money. Shocker, I know, glad you were sitting down.”


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The Black Column: Is Music All We Got?

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Story By: Taylor Lamb

So, recently for my “Black Power & the Bildungsroman” class, we’ve started watching Luke Cage. Yes, that is my homework for one of my classes. #Blessed.

I won’t spoil the show for you (although, if you haven’t seen it, I really think that should be your first priority) but I will tell you that in one of the first episodes, Luke is confronted with an important question. He has this incredible power, a gift you might call it. Is it his duty to use this gift for the betterment of his community? You may or may not know, but the community in Luke Cage is 99.9% black, and race is repeatedly addressed in the show. Me being the self-interested person I am, immediately made connections to my own life and the things I’m involved in. I’m an artist who does a lot of black art, and the question of “Do I owe it to my community to make art that helps black people?” is one that constantly comes up for me and my colleagues, partners, friends, people. Speaking for me personally, I say yes. I’ve written about this before, but I believe in the power of art to change the world, and that’s what I hope my art does. I would like to say that I think all black artists should be doing that. And I would say that almost all of the black art I consume does that. The books I read, the movies & TV shows I watch… they all help the community by addressing race issues, or giving a positive and necessary representation of black people in the media. But there is one exception I just can’t ignore. The music.


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The Black Column: Black Trans Women’s Lives Matter

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Story By: Taylor Lamb

Recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Nigerian author and feminist, said some pretty off base things about transgender women. I thought about addressing these comments, but I don’t think we need to give her any more attention. Besides, black trans women have already addressed them better than I ever could. Instead, I’d rather take the time to focus on the people who deserve it. Trans women. Specifically, black trans women, and the seven of them who were murdered in just the first three months of this year.

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Mesha Caldwell was a 41-year-old makeup artist living in Mississippi, beloved by her community. 2016 was the deadliest year on record for transgender people, with 26
known transgender people (the majority of them women of color) murdered. So when Mesha Caldwell was found after being shot to death onScreen Shot 2017-04-03 at 9.42.51 PM only the third day of the year, it was a very sad reminder of the terrible burdens trans women are forced to bear. Very well known in her community, Mesha “never met
a stranger” according to her neighbors. She was also known for her beauty and style. Community members admired that no matter what she put on, “It looked good on her.” Commenters on her Facebook page hope that she will “Rest in peace and power.” Mesha Caldwell was the first transgender woman to be murdered in 2017.

Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell. Mesha Caldwell.

Say her name.


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A Journey Through Meditation, by Pinky Hossain

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Story By: Pinky Hossain

There are four of us in the room including our meditation guide. He sits straight, a relaxed gleam in his eye. It’s not my first time meditating, but already I can tell that the session will be different. Not bad or good – just different. Earlier that day, we have a conversation about silence in one of my classes. We talk about silence as transcendence, silence as a reprieve, silence as a tool to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Before we begin the session, I can feel the silence pressing down on my ears, and I wonder if the silence is so outstandingly present that the Sufi masters had to look toward a greater being to escape such oppressiveness. Thankfully, the air conditioner whirs softly in the background. My heart thumps two beats faster than it had before, and I don’t know why.


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