Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

NEIU Celebrates its Phenomenal Women Leaders

Janean L. Watkins, Editor in Chief

March 5, 2012


Filed under Features

                                                                                          As the Editor in Chief of the paper, and founder of Seeds Literary Journal of NEIU, I understand what it takes to perform in leadership roles here at NEIU. That's why, for women's history month we decided that the best way to pay homage to the women leaders here at the university, was to create a spread that showcase the phenomenal, female student leaders of the NEIU community. When searching for women to honor, we ran across 18 women that are Presidents of the respective organizations. Through pregnancies, poverty, and various forms of adversity – these women has persevered. Not only are they mothers, wives, workers and scholars – these women are in positions of power. They are using what they've got, to make NEIU a better place for each and every student – one organization at a time. Follow them, as they tell you a bit about themselves, and what they do in their everyday lives. ~*~*~*~ Stephanie Gomez is a young Latina feminist raised in Chicago. She founded Latinas in Power (L.I.P.), a sisterhood that promotes academic success and a firm cultural identity for Latinas in college. Currently studying Sociology, she plans on graduating May 2012 and beginning a Master's Program in Latino and Latin American Studies in the fall. She is a Robert E. McNair Scholar and a nominee in "Who's Who Among Colleges and Universities". In addition to researching and organizing, she finds peace in writing and sharing her poetry. She is a true believer that there is power in our narratives and that healing takes place when we share our deepest fears with our comadres. VIVA LA MUJER! "Surround yourself with good people, people who appreciate your light. Don't let anyone dim your light!" – Stephanie Gomez **** *********************************** Hello, my name is Danait Araia and I am President of the Student Government Association. I am a senior here at NEIU and expect to graduate this Spring with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. My interest in government stems from my family's participation in Eritrea. My immediate family and I came to America as political refugees and although we are displaced we continue to fight against oppression in Eritrea. I have been heavily involved in many international and African non-profit organizations with this mission in mind for most of my life. Since joining the NEIU community I have participated in Model Illinois Government twice and SGA for two years. I started in SGA as a Representative in the Council of Clubs in fall 2010. Last year I decided to run for SGA leadership and campaigned for the Vice President position. This semester I was promoted to President and it has really been a great opportunity to refine my leadership skills and experiences before I graduate. I believe my participation in SGA will prepare me for the future and I strongly suggest students look into joining or participating before they leave NEIU.   *************************************** I'm Courtney Jennings-Hope, a 23 year old student who hails from Gurnee IL. I am a Junior, and a Political Science major with a minor in Philosophy. I am active in several clubs, which include my Presidency in the Politics club, membership in Model United Nations and Model Illinois Government; I'm also in the SGA as the IBHE-SAC Rep and was recently voted Secretary of the IBHE-SAC. Off campus I work at a local library and I am a tutor for adults working to read and write at an adult level, as well as, with at-risk teens who have ambitions to attend college. "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Don't be afraid to take initiative. Go for it!" – Courtney Jennings-Hope *************************************** I am Andrea M. Yetzer, Co-Chair of the NEIU Sociology Club. I am a Senior, and a double major in Psychology and Sociology. As a graduating senior, I spend most of my time on campus in the library, running the Sociology Club, and engaging in Psychological research, while simultaneously attempting to socialize with some of the amazing people I have met at NEIU along the way. Off campus I work full-time as a Behavior Detection Officer at O'Hare. I keep busy organizing group gatherings with friends and coworkers, along with training for and participating in obstacle racing. "Always challenge yourself, never assume you can't do something. Always go for it!" – Andrea Yetzer *************************************** Justice Studies major and President of the Amnesty International club at NEIU, Sharon J. Rehana is a first-generation Chicagoan who brings with her an Assyrian cultural upbringing, strong family roots and a passion for discovering more about the world she lives in. She is currently working on her second B.A., and looks forward to integrating her background as a journalist and teacher with overseas experience, towards promoting peace and compassion throughout the world. Sharon hopes that by drawing awareness through Amnesty International on campus, humanity can reach its highest peak.   "Stand up to what you believe in, use criticisms that come your way as a source of strength." - Sharon Rehana *************************************** "Hey everybody! I'm Nergal, the current acting President of the Feminist Collective. Much of my time on campus is divided between the club, classes, and my job as an FYE Peer Mentor. Occasionally, I can be found dragging my feet in an futile attempt to delay going to class. In my free time, I'm glued to my PS3, League of Legends, and general Pro-Choice ranting set to the tunes of my mother's favorite Assyrian artists. "Don't take any $#!+ ever! No one is going to speak for you. Don't be afraid to get emotional." – Nergal Malham *************************************** Marlene Julye is an OIF/OEF veteran, the president of NEIU's Student Veterans Club and a Senior in the NEIU Social Work bachelor's program. From 2004-2009 she served in the United States Navy as a MH-60s helicopter mechanic before returning to school. Along with being a full time student she regularly volunteers with Girl Scouts of America and interns with Albany Park Community Center in their veterans outreach program. This year, she was appointed to the National Leadership Committee for Student Veterans of America to serve as an advisor to student veterans as well as their organizations. After graduating in May 2012 Marlene will be pursuing her masters in Social Work and plans to work with veterans and their families. "If you think you're at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on! Just keep going!" – Marlene Julye *************************************** Lakeesha J. Harris is a graduate student of Political Science at NEIU seeking her Master's degree in comparative politics and international relations. In 2011 she graduated cum laude from NEIU with her B.A. in Women's Studies. She is also the 2011 Student Laureate of NEIU and a McNair Scholar. Currently, Lakeesha is the Editor In Chief of.:Seeds:. Literary Arts Journal of NEIU and the newly elected Student Trustee. As a Senior Staff Writer for the NEIU Independent she is dedicated to providing timely advice the NEIU community. Lakeesha is also a fierce advocate for education reform and women's and LGBTQ rights. She has been featured on WBEZ's Chicago Matters series, Chicago Tribune, and her essays and poems have appeared in several magazines and anthologies including Ebony (2010) and the upcoming anthology "Sex Crimes Against Black Girls." "See every opportunity as a learning experience; even the small ones, use your instincts and let them be your guide." – Lakeesha Harris *************************************** I am Nicole Maldonado. As a senior majoring in sociology, I have carved out a niche for myself in my three semesters at NEIU. I am Co-Chair of Sociology Club; where we promote critical thinking through academic discourse. I also tutor students in Sociology in the Learning Support Center. Off campus I volunteer for the Sex Workers Outreach Project and the All-Stars Network. I am anti-capitalist, vegan, feminist and dedicated to fighting inequality in all forms.   *************************************** Cathleen Schandelmeier-Bartels graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with her Bachelor's Degree in 1989. She is now a graduate student in the College of Education where she is working on her Master of Arts in Teaching degree with an expected graduation date of May 2012. As a leader, Cathleen has served as President for the NEIU Illinois Education Association (2009-2010), worked as a Senior Staff Writer for the NEIU Independent (2008-2011), and as Station Manager for WZRD Chicago, 88.3 FM - NEIU's freeform radio station where she is now a "wizard" (disc jockey).   *************************************** My name is LaMaria C. Howard; I am President of the Black Heritage Gospel Choir. My major is Interdisciplinary Studies, and I am a Senior with an expected graduation date of May 5th 2012. On campus, I am active with the choir and show support to various organizations. On & off campus, I am a mother of an energetic 2 year old daughter, Ariel. I work part time as an HR Recruiter and I volunteer at youth based non-profit organization. I believe that education is key! "Find a focus and make it your main goal!" – LaMaria Howard *************************************** Starr De Los Santos is a Puerto Rican and Dominican lesbian who grew up in Washington Heights, New York. She is currently a Senior at Northeastern Illinois University. She is majoring in Justice Studies with a double minor in Sociology and Philosophy and plans on graduating this upcoming May. She has previously worked as a peer mentor for the Dean of Students Office and since then has been very involved on campus. She has participated in many different clubs and organizations and has served on numerous committees on and off campus. She has worked in many different leadership positions and has also trained other individuals on leadership development. She is now the President of Northeastern Programming Board and has done an amazing job along with her colleagues in making NPB more visible on campus. NPB is in charge of planning different fun and educational events throughout the school year for NEIU students and the community to participate in. Starr plans to stay at Northeastern and obtain her Masters in Political Science; afterwards she would like to attend law school. She is striving to enter the political world in hopes to promote equality and justice throughout the nation.  ...

President’s Pen

March 5, 2012


Filed under Letters of Leadership

Sandra E. Gonzalez Age: 23 Year: Senior Major: Social Work Position: President L.I.P has been an amazing outlet for me. It has taught me many different skills and has helped me build professional character. I believe that this organization is one that many women can benefit from. L.I.P has helped me find a connection with my roots and has taught me how to embrace who I am and my heritage. L.I.P has been a motivator and a reinforcement that I, as a Latina Woman, shouldn't settle for less. The stories and topics that this organization covers are inspirational to me. Being in this organization has opened doors for me and has been incredibly beneficial. We pride ourselves in being a collective organization, with everyone's thoughts, ideas, and creativity contributing to our success. We have been able to succeed as an organization and see ourselves grow. Nonetheless, L.I.P will continue to strive for excellence and we hope to have many more successful semesters in the future. Name: Kimberly Arabu Age: 21 Year: Junior Major: Psychology Minor: Women's Studies Position: Vice President Latinas In Power means everything to me. From what we believe in, to the strength we have as women in this organization. Before L.I.P. existed, I was very shy and would not speak up. I knew I needed something that was going to help me succeed in my college career. When Stephanie Gomez came to me with her idea about forming a group for empowering and educating Latinas, I was right on board and I thought to myself that this is exactly what NEIU needs because there was nothing on campus like this. I also knew that this was exactly what I personally was looking for. With hard work and dedication, L.I.P has blossomed and has shown NEIU that this is an organization that will forever grow. We support each other, help one another, and are there for every last one of our members. We have a strong foundation of friendship that brings us together and helps us get work done. This is really a true sisterhood of women – that in itself is very hard to find. Also, since education is the key to the future, we strive for excellence in academics, trying to raise the retention rate one Latina at a time. Community is important as well, we will continue to stay humble and know where our roots came from. Another thing that I love about L.I.P. is the diversity in the group. Learning from one another is a great tool, and L.I.P encourages us to share in each other's culture. Through interactions with L.I.P. I learned that I am a feminist, a leader, and an ambitious woman. L.I.P. has given me the chance to really find myself, my strengths and what I need to improve on. I feel as though L.I.P helped me attain true womanhood. I thank L.I.P. for giving me unconditional love and support. I wear L.I.P's signature red beret with pride. I believe that L.I.P. will continue to provide a platform for every woman that wants to succeed in life.   Isamarie Schiffin Age: 21 Year: Junior Major: Social Work Position: Secretary Latinas In Power is an organization that has impacted me in a positive way and I wouldn't give it up for the world! It has taught me that my education is very important and I should cherish every moment of it. As Latinas, we should set our sights and expectations high when it comes to our grades. It has helped me with my communication skills and with organizing my life. I have built an amazing bond with other Latinas that have faced difficult challenges; with each other's support we know we can get through anything. Most importantly, L.I.P has taught me to embrace my Latino heritage. L.I.P means the world to me because I am training to become a responsible, successful person and I believe the experiences I have with L.I.P will prepare me for the real world. It has made my college experience so much better to know that I have a group of sisters that will be there for each other through thick and thin. Latinas In Power will keep helping Latinas feel empowered, because that's what we do best. It will remain engraved in my heart forever! Name: Zio Gil Age: 21 Year: Senior Major: Sociology Minor: Psychology Position: Treasurer As a transfer student from Harper Community College, I did not know anyone on campus. As a result, I started looking for an opportunity to get involved. Little did I know, I would meet a group of women who would encourage me to do more, be more, and give more of myself for a greater purpose. L.I.P has given me the opportunity to develop my networks and to be more active on campus, which ultimately has allowed me to feel a greater connection to the university. L.I.P is more than just an organization that meets once a week; it has served as a support system not just in my academic endeavors, but also in my personal life. I have become more conscious about my identity and the responsibility I have to carry myself with dignity. It has also made me aware of the fact that I do not just represent myself or L.I.P, but Latinas everywhere. More than anything, I have been inspired to empower other young Latinas just as I have been empowered. How to join: Every semester during the Organization Fair we are looking for women that have a passion for their Latina roots, culture and history. In addition to that, we host a meet and greet. If you are interested in joining, please contact Sandra E. Gonzalez at [email protected] for more information.     Upcoming Events:   Kuumba Lynx Feb. 29 6:00pm NEIU Recital Hall $3.00 tickets in advance $5.00 at the door (All proceeds will be donated toKuumba Lynx)   Nuestros Labios March 9 6:00pm El Centro Campus Free   Vagina Monologues March 30 6:00pm El Centro Campus $5.00 (All proceeds will be donated to Porchlight Counseling Services)   By The Ladies of Latinas in Power...

MTVU For You, NEIU?

Matt Hansen, Contributing Writer

March 5, 2012


Filed under Television Review

MTVU is a channel that Viacom created to extend the reach of its artists and advertisers into the hearts and minds of college students. It is the Student Union's one and only choice for entertainment on four different 42" flat screen TVs in the downstairs cafeteria. It broadcasts throughout the day,...

Real Women Have Curves, and Brains to Boot

Lakeesha J. Harris, Senior Staff Writer

March 5, 2012


Filed under Movie Reviews

The opening scene of Real Women Have Curves depicts a diligent young Ana Garcia, played by actress America Ferrero, hard at work before school, washing her windows. We get views of Latino laborers loading trucks to leave for work and many of the Latinas doing the same while caring for young children. There is movement, there is vida (life,) and there is Ana working hard to navigate her existence as a brilliant young Latina seeking to break the shackles of an overbearing mother, Carmen. From the opening scene, the audience gets the notion that Ana's oppressors are intimate and all around her as Ana's entire family gathers in the cramped confines of Mrs. Garcia's room. Though the men act as subliminal oppressors throughout this movie, the women gossip, belittle, and guilt one another into stagnation. Throughout the movie, Mrs. Garcia tries her best to trap Ana into working at her sister's factory and stays immobile within the household and within her community. We even view Ana's sister, Estelle, still residing in the home after she has created her own business. Estelle dotes over her mother and lingers on her every word, while Ana tries to resist her confinement with the hopes of pursuing higher education. What I find most interesting about the movie is the caring manner in which the men are depicted. For instance Mr. Guzman, Ana's English teacher, played by actor George Lopez, is very supportive of Ana going off to college. Even when Ana doesn't recognize her chances of getting into a good university, it's Mr. Guzman who recognizes her brightness and aptitude, seeing the gem of a woman she can become. Even Ana's father and grandfather bear witness to her educational abilities and they both encourage her to find the gold in her life. I enjoyed watching this movie. There was something classic in the struggle among the women, yet liberating in the power and strength of the main character. One could look at the title and be fooled into believing that this movie is merely about one young woman growing to love her voluptuous figure, thus finding power in her physical form. However, I believe that the real story is the testament of triumph over adversity and accepting the responsibility to achieve greatness, no matter what curve balls life may throw your way. Real women have many oppressors, intimate and societal, during their journey through womanhood. The highway of life is full of curves and bumps in the road, but it is up to us as women to find our own path and direction in the world....

Mom’s Homemade Eggplant Marinara Gratin

Joseph Daddario, Staff Writer

March 5, 2012


Filed under Arts & Life

  Ingredients: Olive oil 2 medium eggplants, sliced and peeled ½ cup ricotta cheese 2 eggs ½ cup of half and half 1 Cup parmesan cheese Salt Pepper 1 cup marinara sauce,   Directions: 1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 2. While that is warming up, in a very large frying pan heat some olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking you can add slices of eggplant and let them cook. Be careful! They cook very fast and the oil is very, very hot, but once they are evenly browned you can place them on a paper towel covered plate to drain the oil away. 3. Once this is complete you can mix together the ricotta, eggs, half and half, ½ cup of Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a separate mixing bowl. 4. In a 9x13 Pyrex baking dish start layering eggplant in a deep baking pan, then add some parmesan cheese with salt and pepper, then marinara, then the ricotta mix. Repeat this layering until you fill the pan. 5. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 425, then lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or until the sauce sets and the top is browned. Serve warm and enjoy!   If you wish to make your OWN marinara sauce you will need:   Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 garlic cloves, chopped 1/2 onion, finely chopped 1 can diced tomatoes 1 can crushed tomatoes 1/4 cup chopped basil ¼ Parmesan cheese Salt Pepper   Direction: 1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan, add chopped garlic and onion. 2. Sauté on medium heat until onion is translucent. 3. Add diced and crushed tomatoes and chopped basil. Bring to boil. 4. Lower heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Add ¼ parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste....

Katrina Bell-Jordan – Inspiring Success

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts & Life Editor

March 5, 2012


Filed under Features

  Katrina Bell-Jordan is currently the Department Chair for the CMT department at NEIU. She has been at NEIU for almost 15 years and has taught numerous courses in the CMT department ranging from the 100 to 400 level. However, when asked about her career, Bell-Jordan will smile warmly and tell you that she didn't initially set out to become a teacher. Coming from a family of teachers, Bell-Jordan decided that she wanted to be different and received her B.S. in Journalism from the E.W. Scipps School of Journalism at Ohio University. She began writing for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the New York Daily News. In the midst of the headlines and deadlines, both her family and trusted colleagues advised her to continue her education while she could without losing her edge in the world of print. Bell-Jordan said that while she didn't expect a chance to complete her M.A. in Interpersonal Communication during her journalism career, it was "an opportunity too good to pass up." After completing her M.A. at Ohio University, Bell-Jordan went into a PhD program and worked as a graduate teaching associate. This academic experience exposed Bell-Jordan to the impact a teacher can make on the lives of students and instilled in her a desire to teach media and communications. In 1997, Bell-Jordan began teaching as an assistant professor of Communications at NEIU and became one of the strongest assets NEIU has to offer. As a teacher, the sincerity Bell-Jordan displays when teaching and her ability to connect and relate to students of all ages even after moving into a more administrative position has kept her classes in high demand and her department positively motivated to both serve and support students. Her academic peers hold her in equally high esteem. Dr. Adams, a CMT professor at NEIU, described Bell-Jordan as "unique, equitable, a hard worker, a visionary, and a compassionate leader." Dr. Mun, another CMT professor at NEIU said "She is a really professional person. As a human being." Dr. Mun went on to say "She's really friendly and when people ask for help she's really supportive and tries to understand their situation in their shoes. So I really like that." Dr. Mun's statement of Bell-Jordan definitely rings true in her classes as she brings to the class her experience, expertise and questions dealing with media. Her classes involve a very conversational style in which she brings up questions related to the class material, which allows her students to openly and critically think about the subject matter. In her classes, Bell-Jordan encourages students to think a little further into the matter and really connect what they learn to their daily lives. Aside from academics and publishing, Bell-Jordan also conducted research in the areas of race and representation in the media, Black popular culture, identity politics and comedic performance. When asked why she was interested in researching those topics she said that it was a "natural extension of who I am, and the kind of questions I asked about the media." She also added that "I am a consumer, I like pop culture like everybody else, and I think popular culture is such a reflection of who we are in terms of a nation, in terms of the west, and it was a way for me to express my social interests that were fun and interesting to me." When asked what she would like her students to take away from her classes, Bell-Jordan said the she wanted them to have the ability and tools to question and read everything in the spirit of learning. She would like her students to apply those tools to their lives and become more critical consumers. Bell-Jordan also expressed that the CMT department just went through a year-long program review, which assess how well the department is doing. She hopes the CMT department will "maintain the level of engagement that our students have in what they're doing in our classrooms, continue to see our curriculum grow, continue to attract really talented faculty, support the good work that is being done and to look for ways to serve our students even better."...

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

Lluvia Carrisoza, Visual Media Editor

February 26, 2012


Filed under Movie Reviews

  Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 00:02 When the word "mix tape" is used, the first thing that comes to mind are those mix music tapes people use to give each other back in the day. So I thought this documentary would be about music, based on the titled. In actuality the title refers to all the different clips, opinions and voices heard in this film. The visuals of this film were captured by Swedish reporters between 1967-1975. The aim of the Swedish reporters was to show America as it really was. Although the film can't be called an objective look at America as it actually was during those years, their footage gives us insight into a vastly different and invaluable aspect of the American experience from the point of view of the Black activists of the era. The film also comes with audio commentaries from people such as Erykah Badu, Angela Davis, John Forte, and Bobby Seale among many others. I learned a lot from this documentary, specifically more details about the Black Power movement and the importance of all the different rolls individuals such as Angela Davis and Stokely Carmicheal played. Talib Kweli said the footage Swedish reporters shot of Carmichael showed that "he just was a regular dude," showing a different side of him than the stoic pillar of leadership he was normally portrayed as. This documentary has become one of my favorites. The Black Power movement has always fascinated me, and I think there is much to learn from the achievements of that generation. It is also interesting because the footage was filmed by non-Americans and focused on different aspects of Americana as a result. The Swedish reporters showed a fresh vision of the United States and the Black Power Movement. The minorities of the world should look at the Black Power movement for inspiration and ideas, and this documentary can help them gain inspiration....

RACE at the Goodman

Shantez Tolbut, Senior Staff Writer

February 26, 2012


Filed under Theatre Reviews

  While waiting for the play to be- gin at the famous Goodman Theatre, it's hard to know what to expect from a play called RACE with a picture of a red sequined dress on the front of the playbill. I made a note not to look at the synopsis beforehand because I wanted to be thoroughly surprised. Was I surprised? I was half a mile past shocked! The playwright David Mamet is a new force in the theatre world because of his intelligent dialogue, witty lines, opposing characters, and the realistic but touchy content of his plays. The plot lies in an upscale law office with two high profile lawyers: one white, one black, who take the case of a rich white man, Patrick Clear as Charles Strickland, accused of raping a black woman. "You want to tell me about black folks?" says Henry, played by Geoffrey Owens starting off a lengthy conversation with his know it all partner Jack played by Mark Grapey. The play puts forth stereotypes and underlying prejudices that no one likes to talk about. These realizations are disturbing, complex, and frank. By the end of the play, you never do find out if the client is guilty, but instead you find that the junior lawyer, a black woman named Susan, played by Tamberla Perry, gets the upper hand on them all. The complexity was as compelling as it is thought provoking. RACE was directed by theatre veteran Chuck Smith in an up close and personal examination of how we treat the subject of race in our lives. It reveals the corruption of law, the morality and naivety of the general public and how individual perceptions of others influence injustices and discrimination. RACE runs 90 minutes with one 15 min intermission from January 14th to Feb 19th at the Goodman Theatre at 7:30pm.   Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 00:02...

Play “Unveils” Post 9/11 Experience of Muslim Women in America

Amena Ahmed, Staff Writer

February 26, 2012


Filed under Theatre Reviews

  Unveiled, a dramatization of the Muslim woman's experience after 9/11 was performed to a full house at the NEIU auditorium on Friday, Feb. 10. Written and performed by Rohina Malik, Unveiled aims to bring out the spirit and strength of Muslim women and answer many of the buzzing questions surrounding Muslims and Islam: What does it mean to be Muslim? What is the life of a Muslim woman? Are they really forced to cover? As the lights dimmed, the audience was taken up close into the living rooms, offices, and restaurants of five women. An intimate monologue ensued as each character lifted spirits with an ethnic tea and told her story. A Karachi-born fashion designer brewed chocolate chai as she recounted her best friend's wedding and an unexpected verbal assault. A lawyer entertained a client with mint tea as she told of her first love, and the tumbling chain of events that ended in a hate crime that left her assaulted and her husband dead. These women told of being harassed for being Muslim after 9/11. They spoke of finding strength in standing up to abuse, responding to hate with love, and overcoming tragedy. Laylah, a Middle Eastern restaurant owner, shared the story of the tragic day when she prayed to God that the first plane in the building she saw on TV was just a "mistake." As the day continued, she realized it was not a mistake; on that day she lost her brother and her fellow citizens turned against her. The women spoke of empowerment, especially in their decisions to wear what they chose. "Deal with my mind, not my body," said young British rapper Shabana regarding her decision to don the hijab, the Muslim head covering for women. She overcomes her mother's opposition, who says it is "ugly" and "dangerous" to look like that in modern society. Each of Malik's characters was well crafted and distinct. The performance was equally skillful. The stories raised universal issues, the biggest of which was society's tendency to stereotype and scapegoat. "It addressed universal themes of human rights and freedom. It spoke to the tendency of people to have assumptions about a group of people. These are issues for everybody," said audience member and former NEIU grad school student Cynthia Chernoff. The stories traveled from character to character in fluid and powerful language, drawing a strong response from the crowd. The audience broke into applause in mid-performance as Shabana ended her last rap line. The narratives strung at sentimental notes as the women told of loss and depression. Hearty laughter was heard as Inez, an African American woman from the Deep South said, "I'm a strong woman. When I was born, my mamma told me, ‘You better hold your head up high ‘cuz you born with two strikes against you: you're black, and you're a woman!' When at nineteen, I told [her] of my conversion to Al-Islaam she just looked at me and said, ‘Strike three!'" The show was accentuated with enough non-English words, costumes, and traditional style to bring a real taste of the East. The audience was pulled into the Muslim experience as characters made references to Quranic verses and prophetic sayings, as well as tasteful selections of poems from historical Eastern poets, Rumi and Sa'di. Brought to the forefront at moments of climatic sorrow, the theme of strength from God also carried steadily throughout the show. In the dialogue and dinner after the show, audience members were given the opportunity to speak with Malik. Asked about her inspiration for this show, she said, "It was a terrifying time [after 9/11], and I noticed that all the women I knew had a story to tell." So did all the characters represent real people? Malik said that although the characters were fictional, each story was based on true events. And what about the burning question of women's hijab? Malik spoke of her own decision to cover and how her family wasn't thrilled. She says however, there are some places in the world where some women are forced into it. "With so many women I know, who chose to wear the veil, I see that their families opposed it. I find that to be more common." Malik says there is power and freedom in a woman being able to dress the way she chooses. "I consider myself a feminist in my hijab," she said. How important was it to bring it to NEIU? Yasmin Ranney, director of the Pedroso Center, says it was essential in giving students and staff a better understanding of the post 9/11 backlash. "For the majority of women, the veil is an expression of free will and free choice, and this is a concept that needs to be digested and understood." The theme of the performance echoed most clearly as the last character, Laylah, pulled the show to a close with Sa'di's poem: "Human beings are parts of the same body. We are one family. If one part of the body hurts, all the parts are in pain. If you are not concerned about the suffering of others, then you are not worthy to be called human."   Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012 01:03...

NEIU to Celebrate Bicentennial Birthday Of Composer And Pianist Franz Liszt

Miranda Scott, Staff Writer

February 26, 2012


Filed under Arts & Life

Renowned musicologist Alan Walker, Ph.D., will be presenting a lecture as part of Northeastern Illinois University's (NEIU) Presidential Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 23. The lecture is titled "Franz Liszt: The Cultural Ambassador of the 19th Century." Walker's presentation is a part of NEIU's Year of Liszt celebration in observance of the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt's birth. Edgebrook, Ill., resident and NEIU music professor Elyse Mach, Ph.D., said, "Dr. Alan Walker is the definitive authority on Franz Liszt, who was probably the greatest pianist that ever lived." Walker and Mach have both been awarded the American Liszt Society Medal for their scholarship and advocacy of the music and ideals of composer and virtuoso pianist Franz Liszt. Like Walker, Mach is a distinguished Liszt scholar, author and guest lecturer. In addition to her faculty position at Northeastern, she has performed all over Europe and the United States, and has even been invited to guest teach at St. Catherine's College, Oxford, Northwestern University, Yale University; and the Juilliard School. Her textbook "Contemporary Class Piano," which was written especially for NEIU students, is in its seventh edition and is the most widely used class piano text in the country. Mach uses her own style of teaching and focuses on diversity of style and repertoire, as well as creativity through various methods of improvisation. Mach also shares a strong connection with as part of a legacy of students and teachers descended from Liszt. She was taught by Louis Crowder, who was taught by Eugen D'Albert, who was taught by Franz Liszt. This line of Liszt students has continued at NEIU and strengthened an ever-growing legacy. Franz Liszt was born Oct. 22, 1811, in Raiding, Hungary. He began composing at age eight and completed around 1,400 works by his death on July 31, 1886. In addition to being a successful composer and teacher, Liszt was well-known for his dazzling skills as a pianist. The theatrics of modern piano recitals, as seen by musicians like Elton John, were first displayed by Liszt in the mid-19th century. Mach added, "He was the first ‘superstar' performer." According to Mach, Liszt was the first to give complete solo concerts, perform music from memory and coin the term "recital." The most popular of Liszt's works include La Campanella, Liebestraume No. 3, Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and Un Sosprio. Liszt also invented the symphonic poem, an orchestral composition based on literature or folk tales, and thematic transformation. Best known as a biographer and Liszt scholar, Alan Walker completed a three-volume biography on Liszt over the course of 25 years. The English-Canadian musicologist has been awarded several honors, including Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; the Pro Cultura Hungaria Medal, presented to him by the President of Hungary; the Hungarian Liszt Society Medal; and the American Liszt Society Medal. He was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Book Award in 1998 for his three-volume biography on Liszt. Walker's most recent honor was presented to him on Jan. 17, 2012. At the Hungarian Embassy in Ottawa, Ontario, Walker received the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. Hungarian ambassador László Pordány presented Walker with the medal. The Knight's Cross is usually reserved for military decoration; however, Walker's research on Liszt and dedication to the topic led to his nomination in the civil division. The Washington Post selected the biography as a Book of the Year and said it is "unquestionably a landmark" and "meticulously detailed, passionately argued, and sometimes wrenchingly moving." TIME Magazine said Walker discusses Liszt's works with "greater understanding and clarity than any previous biographer." Walker has also published works on Robert Schumann and Frédéric Chopin, and presents lectures on these composers around Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Walker is a professor emeritus of music at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Walker's lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the NEIU Fine Arts Center Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.   Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2012 01:02...

Ms. Jackie Taylor – Founder of Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center

Janean L. Watkins, Editor in Chief

February 26, 2012


Filed under Arts & Life

                    "For the black community, what we first need to realize is that we're still a chained people. You don't go through 300 years of slavery, and then you're alright. We need to stop trying to forget it. We need to understand where we are in the process of healing. Our scars and our wounds are very fresh… We have to realize that we are infected and start doing for ourselves what's necessary to heal which means to love, and support, and protect one another and try to free ourselves of the bondage that we still put ourselves in." – Jackie Taylor Behind a desk littered with theater reviews, expense reports, and other items related to the successful operation of a business, Jackie Taylor, the founder of the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center works diligently for what any visitor can see is her life's work. Taylor has successfully owned and operated the theater since 1976, becoming the first African American in modern Chicago to create a theater with such a grandiose mission. "I decided to start a theater that would reflect the greatness of who we are as African American people, and the purpose of the theater would be to eliminate racism," Ms. Taylor explained. After making her first motion picture, "Cooley High", she didn't like the opportunities afforded to African American actors. Because she'd graduated from Loyola University with a B.A. in theater, Taylor decided to create a space for Black actors that respected their craft, and equally as important – their race. Taylor explained why she decided to create the theater by saying, "this was during the time of Black Exploitation films…the scripts were horrible, they were just degrading. They were anti-African American, anti-woman, and anti-human as far as I was concerned." Taylor attributes the inspiration to create a theater to predecessors such as legendary Black theater companies like The Negro Ensemble in New York. She was also inspired by Chicago's rich Black Shakespearean theater outlets of the 19th century. Jackie Taylor was born in Chicago, and raised in the notorious Cabrini Green housing projects. She never forgot her roots, and works hard to furnish other children from similar circumstances with an opportunity to find their way out of Chicago's less fortunate communities. Her various programs serve over 8000 Chicago children per year. She has also taught in Chicago Public Schools, and is currently the President of the African American Arts Alliance, which began in Chicago in 1997. She maintains the theater alongside all of her other endeavors making her a true powerhouse in the industry of entertainment and education. Programs such as Plays with a Purpose, teach self-respect and self-confidence. They also work to help youth hone their skills in focusing, listening, and memory. Taylor makes it a point to work with disenfranchised youth, wards of the state, and at-risk youth, "so that we can turn those children around," said Taylor, "I don't believe in labels, especially our children, we have really been pushed into labels. Sometimes when you're pushed into a label – you begin to believe it yourself… Our programs for children destroy those labels and help them to understand what their real purpose in life is." Applying to join the troupe is relatively simple. There are open auditions for artists at any time, for any show. Technicians apply for positions, like they would in most instances. Playwrights   must meet specific criteria, and if they're accepted, they become a part of the Black Playwrights Initiative. There are also volunteer opportunities for youth and college students to hone their skills in any area of professional performing arts. Jackie Taylor's first production in 1976, took place in a theater at 1429 N. Wells Street in Old Town. The production was of one of her first plays, "The Other Cinderella". Since that time, Taylor's theater has grown exponentially – and so has her credibility. In order to make the move to her current location at 4450 N. Clark Street in Andersonville possible, Taylor received numerous donations. Taylor thanks the many contributors in the playbill whom she's coined as "Capital Campaign Donors," entities who have donated as much as $250, 000. Such groups include the city of Chicago, the Pritzker Foundation, the State of Illinois, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In March of 2009, Governor Pat Quinn declared March 27 Jackie Taylor Day. Five to ten years from now, Taylor has a simple, yet prolific dream, "I hope to be five years older, and ten years wiser." Even further into the future she dreamed, "it won't happen in my lifetime, but the board of directors will be sitting in this building, in the room we call Jackie's Suite, and say, ‘you know--Ms. Taylor built this company with the mission of eradicating racism. But we're living in a society where that has no meaning. There is no racism, so – what is our purpose, why are we doing this and how do we make ourselves relevant for today?'"     Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012 Updated: Saturday, March 3, 2012 18:03...

Leadership Workshop With Dr. Frank Ross: Leadership Lessons From Starbucks

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts & Life Editor

February 26, 2012


Filed under Arts & Life

On Wednesday, January 18, 2012 L.E.A.D. NEIU welcomed many student leaders from different organizations on campus to Leadership 101 with the gift of Starbucks. Dr. Frank Ross, who is the Vice President for Student Life at NEIU, as well as an avid Starbucks lover, was the speaker and motivator for this...