Sister, by Madeline Baker

My junior prom was pretty run of the mill: I wore an atrocious dress and put on way more makeup than necessary for any 17-year-old girl. Twelve hours before that night I didn’t even have a dress, and in my mind it might as well have been the apocalypse. My sister, Julia, home from college, drove me to the mall at 10am the morning of prom and helped me pick out the only dress I could find given I had to be ready in 6 hours. I hated that dress. It was salmon pink with a one-shoulder strap and white beads that looked like it could be worn by a beauty pageant participant. Once I had finished my makeup and gotten my hair done, I slipped on the dress and started to cry. Julia looked at me and, without a shred of sympathy in her expression, told me to wipe my tears because my date would be picking me up at any minute. I told her that I didn’t feel pretty at all and that this wasn’t how I pictured my first prom. Julia raised her eyebrows and said, “Junior prom might be the most insignificant part of high school, and there is absolutely no reason to be crying over a dance. Besides, it’s not the dress, it’s the person in the dress.”

Although these words were perhaps cliché, it was exactly what I needed to hear in the moment. My sister wasn’t going to feign understanding or sadness for my situation; I was being a brat and needed to hear it. That’s how Julia has always been: honest and never willing to take my shit. Julia has been my sister for all my life, but we joke that we have only been friends for about 5 years. We rarely got along when we were growing up, and we couldn’t go more that 2 hours before finding ourselves in a screaming match about whose clothes were whose, or what board game we were going to spend the afternoon playing. It wasn’t until she had left for college when I was a sophomore in high school that we really started to become close. The distance between us made me realize how I had taken for granted having an older sister who was way smarter than I could ever be.  She was there for me throughout high school, always listening when I had to rant about our mother, my friends, or boys. I listened to her as well, and I found her to be the only person whose opinion I really valued and took to heart. I had friends in high school, but they weren’t crazy about listening to what I had to say, and that was ok because at the end of the day I would just vent to Julia about it.

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Where are women on Grounds??

Story By: Pinky Hossain

The art we use to decorate our spaces says a lot about us. My dentist, for example, has simple, minimalist paintings and sculptures from local artists ornamenting her office walls. She likes to support local efforts and has modest taste. Really, it’s her values that adorn the room. Now I wonder what it would look like if she almost exclusively adorned her office with paintings and sculptures commemorating the old white men that have given her the money to fund her dentist endeavors, what kind of vibe that might set off in the room, and how her clients might react to the art installations of old white men. Let’s add, just as a thought experiment, some historical context to the office itself. Say that the space was built by a group of people that were oppressed by those same old white men. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t particularly comfortable with waiting for my teeth to be cleaned in a room like that.

The University of Virginia is a bit bigger and more complicated than a dentist’s office, but the same ideas apply. The art in our spaces around Grounds say a lot about the values that we hold, and it tells me that UVa does not revere women or people of color (it goes without saying that women of color are especially underrepresented) because the majority of the visuals that occupy the most important areas around Grounds, namely the ones that we study in, that we think in, that we process in, that we learn in, that we reflect in, are of old white men. What is more, we can’t have a conversation about old white men dominating the art sphere here without discussing who physically made this university: slaves. Although there are areas memorializing slaves at UVa, like Gibbons dorm which is named after William and Isabella Gibbons who were enslaved by professors here, we lack visual art (sculptors, statues, paintings, etc) commemorating them.

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THE BLACK COLUMN: Music is All We Got


Story By: Taylor Lamb

“…never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never seen even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture. In music they are more generally gifted than the whites, with accurate ears for tune and time… Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved.” -Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

You know those weeks when everything just seems super connected?

In my AAS class, we were reading The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois. This is one of the most important texts in African American Literature, and I’d say it’s required reading. (It’s only $2 at the book-store, get you one.) We discussed how he employs ethnomusicology in his work. He speaks of Negro Spirituals and tells us how you can listen to them to understand the people. The music tells of their lives, their struggles, their hopes, etc. The music is the story.  

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The Bachelorette, Texas Style: Or, How I Reconciled Being a Debutante With Being a Feminist

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Story By: Madeline Baker

This past December, I came out to Corpus Christi society as an eligible bachelorette.

Now if you are completely confused or utterly repulsed by this sentence, let me break it down for you. For centuries, young women have been presented as debutantes to their respective societies with the goal of securing a suitable husband with whom to “settle down.” A huge ball is thrown, and fathers present their daughters as the newest debutantes of the season, which is usually a year in length. So there I was in December. My brother strutted me around a ballroom as members of my family watched seven other girls and I make our formal debut in my hometown of Corpus Christi, TX. No, I’m not looking to get married anytime soon, and I certainly don’t see myself as being any more eligible as a woman than the next girl. I did, however, feel like this event was totally out of character for me. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was an object capable of being picked up by any guy who had his eyes on me. I certainly wasn’t forced by my mother into participating in this event, but prior to the presentation I felt as though I was losing myself in the process. Was this what I thought femininity was, or could I find a way to be a debutante and a feminist at the same time?

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So You’re Looking for an Internship…?

Story By: Madeline Baker

It’s spring semester at UVA, and it seems everyone has one thing on his or her mind: internships. Whether an internship is paid, unpaid, summer or year round, it’s a great way to get real world experience. If you know anything about internships, though, you know that these positions are limited and really competitive. You could have a stellar GPA, awesome references, and hold a number of leadership roles on Grounds and still find yourself in intense competition for any internship. With internships this intense, why would anyone accept one that wasn’t crazy fun with super rewarding opportunities? If this criteria is describes what you are looking for, then search no further and check out the Women’s Center internship program! These year-long internships are a chance to take part in real social change on Grounds and provide participants with valuable opportunities to get involved at UVA. If you still aren’t convinced, here are 5 reasons to apply to the Women’s Center internship program for the 2017-2018 school year.

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