April 1, 2013 · 1 Comment
Photo Credit: Zoraida Lopez. Click any image to launch photo gallery.
BY ZORAIDA LOPEZ | GIRLS ISSUE | MARCH, 2013
Between 1998 and 2008, approximately one million acres of Colombian land was used for the cultivation of coca leaves, the main ingredient used to produce cocaine. The high production of Colombian cocaine has created a dangerous drug trafficking climate with the civilian population caught in the crossfire. This has led to a loss of land, forced displacement, kidnappings, massacres, and countless disappearances, which in turn has left thousands of children, including many girls, without homes or parents. The cocaine market has also produced the “mule,” a term to describe individuals at the lowest level of the drug trading hierarchy. These “mules” are often poor, young women and girls, who, because of their own desperation, carry out the jobs that no one else wants to do—transport drugs within or on their bodies.
In 2011, I travelled to Medellin, Colombia. For eight days, I lived in Pedregal, a maximum-security women’s prison where the vast majority of women I met were serving sentences for drug trafficking or drug related crimes. While there, I taught photography to twelve of the women who were incarcerated and later curated an exhibition of their work at both Pedregal and the Paul Bardwell Gallery in Medellin. Read more
November 7, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Yannick Lebrun. Photo by Andrew Eccles
By Grace Aneiza Ali
Yannick Lebrun’s story, of a twenty-four year old native of French Guiana turned world-traveling Alvin Ailey dancer, is rooted in humble beginnings. His leap from studying dance at the Adaclam School in Cayenne (capital city of French Guiana) to carving out a place for himself in the award-winning Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is not a path frequently travelled. “For those from French Guiana…the possibilities for dance are few and far between,” he says. When he starts talking about his journey, he exudes an admirable and effortless humility. However, that humility belies the success of his still-emerging career. Since officially moving to New York City in 2004, Lebrun’s tenure at Ailey has evolved from aspiring fellowship student, to rising dancer of Ailey II, the company’s ensemble of young talent, to one of the thirty professionals of the current Ailey troupe.
November 6, 2011 · 15 Comments
By Ingrid Griffith
The place I once escaped, the one I had sworn off for good, became the place I most needed to feel whole again.
My family hadn’t been back to Guyana in a long time, some of us for 30 years, some 20, and some 10. A reunion trip was scheduled during Easter because of the unique Easter Monday celebration.
Eight of us arrived at Cheddi Jagan International Airport early one April morning. It had just rained and the showers had washed the warm air clean. Cane fields still lined the road from the airport. As a child, I remember the scent of boiling sugar that made me dizzy whenever I went past the Diamond Estate sugar factory on the East Bank of the Demerara River.
As we headed for Hadfield Street, I couldn’t take my eyes off the moments of daily life. Youngsters on bicycles used sticks to steer goats and cows off the street and toward the pasture. Bare-chested, brown-skinned men leaned out windows. Women in house dresses and headwraps swept their yards with pointer brooms made from coconut tree branches.
February 13, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Mustafa Abdulaziz, Cowboy in Mountains, Patagonia Cowboy series. 2008
“The power of the photograph can shine a light of knowledge and inspiration into places where there was once only darkness,” says photographer Mustafa Abdulaziz. Coming from a Dutch/Afro-Caribbean heritage, Abdulaziz’s work centers on “people and cultures whose lives may not contain the drama of spot news or the visceral power of war and conflict, but whose daily struggles and ways of life are changing as our world moves into this new century.”