Posts tagged with "diversity"

Dr. Seuss illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

The Controversial Career of Dr. Seuss

By: Carly Cohen

The American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker, the brilliant Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss has been extremely well known ever since he started his books and films. The books and films are classics and bring joy and childhood memories.

Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, 1904, and released his first book in 1937 called And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. In total, he has written over 60 books and sold over 600 million copies throughout his career. In his early career, he attended Lincoln College at the University of Oxford for English literature, but left without receiving a degree and came back to the U.S. After moving back to the United States, Dr. Seuss began to send his work to different advertising agencies, magazines and publishers. In 1927, his first cartoon was published in The Saturday Evening Post.  His career was long, successful, and brilliant.

In the latest news, Dr. Seuss will stop being published due to “hurtful and wrong racist images.” In his books and cartoons, there has been ‘insensitive’ imagery that is causing this news. Dr. Seuss’s enterprise assured consumers that the books which are no longer being published are a part of the plan to “ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprise’s catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”  The decision of this issue most definitely was not easy for the Dr. Seuss organization. Since this is such a serious and sensitive issue, it required for the organization to think it through, bring in experts, and spend long hours deciding on what is best way to maintain Dr. Seuss’ name and be sensitive to all of his readers.

Not all of his books will stop being published, but they still will all be carefully inspected. The confirmed books that will no longer be available for purchase are McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, The Cat’s Quizzer, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and If I Ran the Zoo. The Cat In The Hat has also been under discussion concerning discontinuation, but will be fully examined before any decisions are made.

In The Cats Quizzer, the Japanese character has a bright yellow face and is standing on Mt. Fuji. If I Ran A Zoo shows examples of orientalism and white supremacy. Another issue with the Dr. Seuss books has been that a majority of the human characters are white, which makes it appear that Dr. Seuss focuses on white men and women.

A school in Virginia has already banned the copies of these Dr. Seuss books, and others are having similar discussions.

Even in death, Dr. Seuss receives backlash from his work along with many other brands such as Aunt Jemima pancake mix and Uncle Ben’s Eskimo Pies, which also had to change their branding due to racial issues. Brands from this point on need to pay close attention to their advertising to ensure that they’re being inclusive of all audiences.

Halsey Illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

HALSEY × ABOUT-FACE

Created by multimedia, award-winning artist and bestselling author Halsey, about-face is a multidimensional color beauty brand rooted in innovation, self-expression and high-performance with customer experience as its highest priority. Set to launch direct-to-consumer via www.aboutface.com on January 25, 2021, about-face celebrates the many facets and forms of expression that live in each person.

about-face provides the tools to create looks that highlight authenticity and uniqueness in every form, recognizing that there is no one version of us. Delivering a powerful promise to perform, the highly-pigmented, long-wear formulas meet bold individualism, elevating all faces and empowering everyone to share their voice and vision through makeup. Inspired by music, fashion and art, about-face honors inclusivity, acceptance, experimentation and the democratization of beauty for our multiple identities.

Halsey, a self-taught makeup artist, has always taken ownership of what makes her feel most beautiful, creating and applying her own looks for performances, editorials and music videos. A true makeup junkie, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of brands, application methods, and best-in-class products from drugstore heroes to luxury leaders. Perfecting her craft, she was often blending, cocktailing and color-correcting to achieve levels of vibrancy, pigment intensity and shine. From this extensive base knowledge of beauty, she created a brand rooted in performance-driven formulations that deliver the finish and quality in products that are hard-working over hype.

“Makeup is an art and art is about happy accidents, not any single idea of perfection,” said Halsey, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of about-face. “I always feel the freest when I am creating looks without following any rules. The beauty industry has norms, but I want to encourage people to challenge those standards and allow things to be imperfect and fun.”

The about-face launch collection embodies Halsey’s personal style and love of diverse beauty, initially with three distinct franchises – Light Lock, Matte, and Shadowstick. Light Lock, her signature face highlighter range with stratospheric shine, includes Stick, Powder, Fluid and Lip Gloss. The Matte range of velvety smooth, creaseless, high-intensity colors consists of Paint-It Matte Lip Colors, Matte Fix Lip Pencils and Matte Fluid Eye Paint, as well as a Set and Prime Spray with application sponge for the face. Shadowsticks are precise, multi-tasking cream eyeshadow crayons that feature soft pearly pastels, as well as a high-intensity matte velvet in white, teal blue and black for a range of looks for liner and lids. The launch consists of 10 product categories (inclusive of beauty tools and limited edition cosmetic bags) across a total of 40 SKUs. All about-face products are formulated to be vegan, clean, and cruelty-free. Prices range from $17.00 to $32.00.

about-face will be sold direct-to-consumer in the US, Canada, UK and Europe on www.aboutface.com, as well as via an exclusive year-long partnership with Ipsy, featured in the newly launched and limited edition Glam Bag X on www.ipsy.com. The next about-face drop will be Anti-Valentine’s Day, a limited-edition matte lip range launching in early February 2021.

ABOUT about-face

Make-u(p) without rules. Made for the many versions of you, about-face is multidimensional makeup for everyone, everywhere created by Halsey and built on the truth that no one is just one thing and humans are weird, complex and imperfectly beautiful beings. Everyone has their own messy, mad, and personal method to becoming their greatest version of themselves, so we make products that are hardworking over hype, designed to celebrate the journey to become every version of us – the ones we end up being, and all of the experimental versions along the way.

ABOUT HALSEY

GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi-platinum singer/songwriter Halsey burst onto the scene in 2015 with her first studio album, Badlands, which has been RIAA certified 2x platinum. Her second release, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, claimed the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 200 chart upon its debut. Since then, Halsey has continued her success with her 7x Platinum “Without Me,” which made Halsey the first and only female artist to have at least three songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100 for 50 weeks each.

Halsey continues to push creative boundaries, expanding her influence and impact beyond music. In 2019, she was awarded the Hal David Starlight Award, presented by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, to honor her songwriting. In 2020, Halsey released her latest album, Manic, to rave reviews. The album has already attained RIAA Platinum status as did the single “Graveyard” from the album. Most recently, it was announced that she will executive produce and star in “The Players Table” alongside Sydney Sweeney and in November of 2020, she debuted her first original poetry book, I Would Leave Me If I Could, which made her a NY Times bestselling author.

For more information please visit www.aboutface.com
@aboutfacebeauty

Acobie the Model Headshot

The Model Acobie

360 Magazine sat down with up and coming model Acobie Inniss, to find out how he got started with modeling and where he plans to go next. The young, Barbadian model has a unique look that is sure to gain attention as his modeling career takes off.

Included below is also information about Rhaj Paul a designer that works with Acobie and Graham Edwards, Acobie’s agent. Working together, the team has created an amazing shoot featuring Acobie as the star.

When did you decide to begin modeling and how did you get started? 

I was approached by Graham from GADAL Model Management at the end of 2018 and I didn’t take it too seriously at the time. A year later we had another chance encounter meeting and this time I decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a try; so I officially started at the end of 2019. 

What was it like growing up in Barbados?  

Growing up in Barbados is great! I loved that a nice beach would always be right around the corner; I was definitely a beach person, like in the summer I would be at the beach every day. I loved riding around on my bike and playing football and many other sports with my friends.  

Do you think you will eventually become a full-time model? Why or why not? 

Yes! I’m hoping to become a full-time model; but I know life can have twists and turns so I remain open to it happening or not happening, where ever life takes me I guess. 

Where do you aspire to be five years from now and do you have plans to get there? 

Five years from now I’d like to have my own home and to be traveling the world with my girlfriend- who I hope will be my wife at that time. I also want to be in a financial position to invest in Real Estate and be able to help the needy. Things don’t always go according to plan, but it’s still good to have one in place. I plan to keep an open mind and open heart to whatever opportunities come my way. 

Are your family and friends supportive of your modeling career? 

My mother and my close friends are supportive. 

What has been your favorite part of modeling so far? 

So far, my favorite part is meeting new people; trying new experiences and exercising my confidence and communication skills. 

Some of your hobbies include stunt-riding and photography, do you hope to progress these talents further in the future?  

Yes, I hope to progress further in these hobbies. For example the stunt riding; I’d love to build a community (of riders) where we ride for a cause…hopefully raise some funds as well and donate to different charities while having fun riding (smile). 

What makes you unique from other up and coming models? 

Well, I think everyone is unique in their own way; for me, I’m not sure, some people say it’s my hair or maybe my eyes. Lol. 

Do you have any collaborations coming up that you’re excited about? 

I’m definitely hoping to have some collaborations! I know my agency is working on stuff…don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. I like to only speak about things after they are done. 

Are there any other models you would like to work with in the future?  

I’d like to work with everyone! I’m new to this industry so I want to learn as much as I can from everyone. 

About Acobie Inniss

Acobie is a newly discovered Barbadian model who describes himself as a “regular guy” who loves stunt riding and going for long rides on his Haro mountain bike. He says, he also likes researching things on the internet and learning new things.  

One look at Acobie however, and you’ll see he’s anything but “regular”; the 6’ 2”, 21-year-old is an eclectic ethnic blend of Black; White and Indian- with a negro structured face and nose; light skin; freckles; pink lips; hair that can change color ranging from dark brown to blonde; perfect jaw-lines and hazel eyes with an intense gaze, that causes you too, to also gaze intensely. Anything but “regular!” 

Acobie is not just another pretty face though, he is also talented practically with his hands. He’s a certified electrician and PV (photovoltaic) installer and sees the latter as “the future” because it’s “environmentally sustainable; good for the planet and clean energy”. 

He also has a passion for photography (which he’s teaching himself); because he likes how you can “capture a moment forever.” All the knowledge he has on various topics such as his stunt-riding and photography he eagerly shares on his YouTube channel another one of his hobbies. 

He loves the artist Saint Jhn (who’s originally from Guyana) and appreciates his music; success and Caribbean roots. Acobie is also into Kendrick Lamar and Arianna Grande. His favorite fashion brands he’d love to work with are Polo Ralph Lauren; Gucci and Prada. 

About Rhaj Paul 

Rhaj Paul is a conscious artist, whose objective is to use the medium of fashion and design to grow positivity, creativity and connection, particularly in the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora.  

From the emergence of his eponymous cut ‘n’ sewn menswear label – Rhaj Paul Montaazh (pron. ‘montage’) in 2000 to the trendsetting soft apparel Brand Evolve in 2010, and the first-ever Barbadian beard brand – The Beard Island Gang in 2014, the name Rhaj Paul has been synonymous with top-quality craftsmanship, unique style and innovative fashion marketing in Barbados.  

His work encompasses bespoke tailoring and design, fashion styling, graphic design and motivational public speaking. 

Rhaj has worked with various organizations, entertainers, artists, videographers and photographers and has also starred in several local movies  

Passionate, inspired, skilled and committed to raising an attitude of excellence and a genuine love for authentic self-expression, Rhaj Paul represents the Ministry Of Style Creative Alliance in its mandate to grow creative entrepreneurship in the Caribbean region and beyond. 

Welcome, Minister of Style Rhaj Paul Whitehead!  

Rhaj Paul Photograph

About Khali Goodman

Khalil Goodman is a photographer, digital strategist and writer.  When he’s not art-directing or shooting a new set of images, Khalil spends too much time reading comic books and listening to all the wrong music at the right volume. 

Khalil Goodman Portrait

About Graham Edwards

Graham Edwards is a Model Agent and the founder and owner of GADAL Model Management Inc., a Barbadian based mother agency and model management company specializing in the scouting, training and placement of primarily black models internationally.   

The name “GADAL” is a Hebrew verb for: “to grow; become great; become important; promote; make powerful; praise; magnify; do great things; to increase; to exceed; to excel; to promote; to become like a great tree or tower.”  

It’s a personification of all that he wants to do for black models worldwide. He describes his job as, “doing my part to ensure a more level playing field in the fashion industry for models of color; long before Black Lives Matter appeared- I always knew black models mattered!”  

Nothing makes him more satisfied than to see models of color succeed and to see them on the runways worldwide and in the pages of major international magazines.  

Models scouted and placed internationally by GADAL Model Management Inc. through Graham, have appeared in Beyoncé’s music video: Get In Formation; Tinchy Stryder’s In My System; Avicii’s I Could Be The One; in shoots with Selita Banks; appeared in major fashion publications: L’Officiel Hommes; Men’s Health UK; Men’s Health Portugal; Cosmopolitan; Essence Magazine; Prestige Hong Kong; Cole Magazine; ESTE 2 and walked for international labels and designers: Givenchy; Calvin Klein; Moncler; Marcelo Burlon; Granted London; Sibling London; OTHER UK; Fausto Puglisi; Dockers and represented international brands such as: Nike; Coca Cola; Levi Jeans; Addidas; Asics and Equinox Gym. 

The company has signed the models it represents into several international fashion markets and placed them with larger model agencies in: Germany; Italy; Mexico; South Africa; Spain, UK and the USA. Graham loves his job; still, actively scouts for models and is excited about every ‘new face’ he discovers and helping them achieve their fullest potential! 

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Acobie the Model Headshot

Netflix's Bridgerton illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Bridgerton, Netflix’s Take on a Period Piece

By Dana Feeney

“Bridgerton,” a dramatic and sexually charged period piece, is the first show of Shonda Rhimes‘ highly anticipated slate of content from her $150 million deal with Netflix. The showrunner Chris Van Dusen‘s adaptation of Julia Quinn’s “Bridgerton” novels takes classic period piece tropes and turns them on their head. The show maintains the formality of 1800s Regency age England with courtship, elegant, bejeweled costuming, and a heavy emphasis on the value of a young woman’s modesty while contrasting it with sexual tension so thick one could cut it with a knife. The eight-episode series premiered on Netflix on December 25, 2020, and has remained in the Top 10 in the United States, currently at number two.

The first season focuses on the love story of Daphne Bridgerton, played by Phoebe Dynevor, and Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, played by Regé-Jean Page. The characters spend their season enduring taunts from the anonymous Lady Whistledown, voiced by Julie Andrews, who reports the scathingly hot tea on anyone who slips up. Due to her brother’s actions, her competition, and Lady Whitstledown’s rumor mill, Daphne finds herself alone and without any viable options for an amicable marriage. These circumstances lead to the juiciest part of the story– Daphne and the Duke. The pair conspire to fake courtship and trick Lady Whistledown into reporting their love so Daphne can find a husband and the Duke can avoid all of the mothers trying to arrange his marriage with their daughters. What starts as a mutually advantageous deal for both quickly grows into a torrid love affair.

Unlike most period pieces, the producers chose to honor talent and diversity over historical accuracy. The series portrays many people of color in high places of authority, as well as mixed into the Royal Court and as tradespeople, despite the white-washed reality of 1800s British royalty. Queen Charlotte, played by Golda Rosheuvel, was of mixed descent, the daughter of an African woman and Alphonso III of Portugal. In this story, her union with King George III leads to the inclusion of other races in proper London society. Other notable characters of color are the Lady Danbury, played by Adjoa Andoh, a widowed woman of high social status, the Duke of Hastings, one of the most eligible bachelors despite being unwilling to marry, and Marina Thompson, played by Ruby Barker, who’s beauty rivals that of the main character.

Shonda Rhimes has become one of the most successful showrunners in the game and uses this position to celebrate diversity and interracial relationships on television. Her older content approaches race in a far more color-blind fashion, unlike her more recent work with both ABC and Netflix. “Bridgerton” comes with the recognition that the characters’ social standings come with their racial identities, instead of creating a theoretically color-blind world.

Shondaland, as a production company, has a deep portfolio when it comes to diversity and inclusion. More specifically, they highlight black women across all of their content; including Miranda Bailey, Maggie Pierce, and Catherine Fox in “Grey’s Anatomy,” Annalise Keating, and Michaela Pratt in “How to Get Away with Murder,” Victoria Hughes in “Station 19,” and Olivia Pope in “Scandal.” “Bridgerton” is no different as three black women are prominent characters: The Queen, Lady Danbury, and Marina Thompson.

At first, their love story seems predictable, but in true Shonda Rhimes fashion, every obstacle that could stand in the way of a character’s happiness absolutely will. As with the other shows she has helmed, Shonda Rhimes pulls every heartstring she can find while giving the audience just enough of what they want to keep them on the edge of their seats. Throughout the series, Lady Danbury carefully plays matchmaker to help bring Simon and Daphne together again and again throughout the ups and downs of their relationship.

Simon also receives counsel from his close friend Will Mondrich, a black boxer, played by Martins Imhangbe, and his wife Alice Mondrich, played by Emma Naomi. As a couple, they are the antithesis of the Duke because they are poor and lack class status but are rich in love and family. In the eight episodes, Van Dusen and Rhimes create three-dimensional characters whose conflicts span complex issues such as love versus duty, race, class, sexuality, and childhood trauma. At times the flashbacks used to force character development feel rushed, but overall, it does create a deeper understanding of the characters’ inner worlds.

“Bridgerton” dives wholeheartedly into the social, emotional, and sexual lives of its characters. Any viewer familiar with other Shondaland shows knows they do not shy away from passionate scenes or sensitive topics, but all of their prior content was limited by network television decency standards. The genre tends to be chaste and formal, but this series allows its characters drugs, alcohol, passionate sex, explosive arguments, and an attempted rape scene. Instead of maintaining eloquent composure shown in shows like “The Crown” (another Netflix Original), the flirtation and frustration between characters are all too familiar to real life as not even the Queen is above gossip, manipulation, and meddling.

The soundtrack and editing lend heavily to the tension development in scenes that will make your heart ache throughout the series. The soundtrack is another well done modern inclusion that defies the period piece genre with instrumental versions of songs by Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, and more. The eloquent juxtaposition of the classic string instruments and modern pop songs creates a familiarity that draws the viewer deeper into the world.The ballroom scene scored with a Vitamin String Quartet cover of Shawn Mendes’ song “In My Blood” hits every musical and emotional beat as the camera cuts closer and closer, the background blurs, and the music swells. Expertly, tension builds with inside jokes, the brush of hands, and the change of attention from the world around to only seeing each other.

For anyone seeking binge-worthy entertainment during these quarantine days, “Bridgerton” is on Netflix here, and its soundtrack is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and iTunes, find it here. The next season is not yet confirmed by Netflix, but it is rumored to be in development according to What’s On Netflix. Shondaland’s next project with Netflix is a documentary drama series called “Inventing Anna,” which is set to release early 2021.

Business woman article illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 Magazine

Isn’t it Time to Smash the Myths of Women in Business?

By Andi Simon, Ph.D.

How many times have you heard something said about women that was just not “true?”  The myths seem to be everywhere, even as women penetrate areas that seemed out of bounds in the past.

What do we hear? Women aren’t great leaders. They aren’t decisive or they are too collaborative or too caring. Then you watch Angela Merkel or Kamala Harris, or all the other women today who are leading the way forward in challenging times.

Maybe you are a young woman dreaming of becoming a surgeon, like my granddaughter wants to be, and your teacher suggests you might consider being a pediatrician instead. They might tell you that women don’t make great surgeons, except on “Grey’s Anatomy.” 
 
Maybe you just have great ideas about the fashion industry like so many of those women graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology—and the graduates are almost all women. Those women look around wondering how to smash the ceilings holding them back when they see men running most of the major fashion companies. Women don’t run the companies as well as men do, or so you are told. Women do the work, create great fashion designs, while the men run the companies.

You aren’t even sure that becoming an attorney is the right career for you when you see that 40% of the lawyers are women today but only 19% of equity partners are women and women are less likely to get to the first level of partnership than their male counterparts. You aren’t sure why being a lady lawyer is going to be so tough for you. It is much the same in accounting firms where women are more than 61% of all accountants and auditors, yet less than a third are partners and principals.  

As a woman you feel your boldness emerging. You see the dreams that are becoming realities. You feel a sea change in public and private stories that are being told about what women can do and are doing. But you realize that we are not there yet. We still have a lot of myth-smashing to go before people expect women to be those leaders, surgeons, and great CEOs.

I bet that all you heard from others through much of your life is that your dreams “will never, or might never, happen.” In reply, you might have asked, “Why?” Well, they would tell you something like “that’s not what women do” or “women are meant to have and raise the children, not start their own business.”  You might have been encouraged to study IT, only to find that the world of coding is filled with men who are not particularly encouraging to you and your dreams. You find that, indeed, most surgeons are men, and women are discouraged from going into surgery, are rarely welcome, and often are held  to a higher standard than the men are. 

In the entrepreneurial arena, 40% of the businesses in the U.S. before the COVID-19 pandemic were owned and run by women. Yet less than 3% of the venture-capital investments were in women-owned businesses. The women were going to start and grow their businesses, and hope to succeed, by relying on family, friends, and revenue to underwrite their growth. If we dug deeper, we would find that their markets, often controlled by men, were not particularly supportive of those women-owned businesses, and neither bought from them nor helped them build their businesses. 

The gap between the achievements of women and the culture in which they are trying to succeed reflects the myths that men have created over centuries and reluctantly modified in more recent times. What is a myth? Think about the stories that we tell each other, our children, our friends, about what we believe to be those “sacred ways we do things” in our societies. 

As people, the secret of our success is in those imagined realities that we create to give meaning to our daily lives. Our cultural myths have driven how we believe our lives should be lived. Once we give these stories, these mythical “truths,” almost “godlike” power, these myths become what we believe are immutable realities. Are they “real”? Yes and no. They are what the stories in our minds believe to be our “reality.” But they can change, if we collaborate with our minds, change our stories, and share those new ones so our shared stories can change as well. This is not a solo act, even though it might feel that way.

These are myths that need to be smashed if we are going to change how men and women relate to each other, how women can succeed, and how organizations of all sizes and in all industries can find greatness in the women with whom they work and live. 

None of this is happening to diminish the value or importance of men. Many men are great mentors and coaches to their women employees.  It is just time for men to shift over and enable, encourage and empower women so both men and women can create better societies, businesses, schools, hospitals, and everything that is so important in our lives. Let’s change those men’s clubs enough to let women in without the men fleeing them. 

It is time to get past the gender fatigue that men are feeling about having to actually address the inclusion, equity and need for diversity in their workplaces, in their organizations, and in our government. The times demand it. Women are ready for it. And the shift is happening, despite the brick walls, the glass ceilings, the enduring men’s clubs. These are important times to rethink our myths about what women can do and what men will allow them to achieve. It is time for men and women to rewrite these myths so women can thrive, and our society can become the best that it can be. 

Andi Simon, Ph.D., author of the new book Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, is a corporate anthropologist and founder of Simon Associates Management Consultants. A trained practitioner in Blue Ocean Strategy®, Simon has conducted several hundred workshops and speeches on the topic as well as consulted with a wide range of clients across the globe. She also is the author of the award-winning book On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights. Simon has a successful podcast, On the Brink with Andi Simon, that has more than 125,000 monthly listeners, and is ranked among the top 20 Futurist podcasts and top 200 business podcasts. In addition, Global Advisory Experts named Simons’ firm the Corporate Anthropology Consultancy Firm of the Year in New York – 2020. She has been on Good Morning, America and Bloomberg, and is widely published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, Business Week, Becker’s, and American Banker, among others. She has been a guest blogger for Forbes.com, Huffington Post, and Fierce Health.

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Rita Azar illustrates fashion article for 360 MAGAZINE

Tips For Supporting Ethical Fashion 

There is no time like right now to make the switch to ethical fashion, with the report Future of Consumer Demand showing that the vast majority of Americans place a high importance on buying goods that are ethically produced. When it comes to fashion, the exact definition of ‘ethics’ is difficult to provide, since it extends to a wide array of issues – including fair working conditions, sustainability, support for upcoming creators, animal welfare, and fair trade. A recent Futerra survey showed that around 90% of consumers in the U.S. and the U.K. want to make a positive difference with each purchase they make. They feel that their actions can be part of a big wave that reduces pressing problems such as global warming. If you are ready to start supporting companies that are ‘giving back’, what qualities should you look for in your chosen brands?

Ethical Working Conditions

If you are drafting a list of fashion and accessory companies you would like to start supporting, spend time getting to know their policy on working conditions. For instance, if you are buying luxury gems such as diamonds, ensuring they are conflict-free and ethically sourced is key. More than 99% of accessible diamonds meet Kimberley certificate standards. However, this certificate is a logistic document that states a rough diamond was exported from a specific country under the stipulations of the Kimberley process. It does not tell you if the mine a specific diamond was obtained from provides local jobs or funds opportunities for diverse groups such as women. Therefore, inquiring about these matters can help you make a decision when considering various brands or jewelry houses.

A Passion For Sustainability
It is very easy to see which brands are 100% committed to lowering their carbon footprint. Truly green brands such as Stella McCartney have been raising the bar in terms of the use of organic, recycled and upcycled materials practically since their launch. Brands should do more than release the odd sustainable collection. They should have published policies regarding energy use, water saving, ethical sourcing of materials (i.e. materials should not hail from endangered forests), and the establishment of strict quality and sustainability standards. They should also commit to reducing oil-based synthetics during the manufacturing process.

Supporting Innovation

Check out the efforts made by each brand to support the Planet. Some have come up with innovative ways to put an end to problems such as plastics. Pangaia, famed for its über-chic tracksuits, use material obtained from recycled bottles. The fabric obtained is then colored with natural botanical dyes, and ‘freshened up’ with natural peppermint, which battles bacteria. Reformation (which manufactures swimwear) also creates items made with recycled plastic, while Isbjörn of Sweden uses fish trap to create resilient items that are also 100% PFC-free and bluesign certified.

Design For Life

Ethical fashion should also aim to be used by several owners so as to prolong the life cycle of every item and reduce the amount of waste that is overburdening landfills. Essén is one such label; it produces all collections in small batches, moving away from the idea of short-term trends and seasonality. The aim is for every single item to be used throughout the year, with minimalist looks holding sway in the summer and layering being embraced to stay warm and cosy during the winter. Another interesting minimalist brand is Working Title. In order to reduce its carbon footprint, this company only sells made-to-order items, meaning that every single outfit they make is fully desired and cherished. When purchasing items for a new season, go with items you think will stand the test of time. Ensure you have wardrobe essentials such as a ‘little black dress’, a white tailored top, black trousers, and a good coat you can dress up or down. You can still stay in trend, buying a couple of ‘in’ clothing items and accessories but mainly sticking to items you know will look good just as good next year as they do this year.

Choosing Durable Items

Genuinely sustainable items should be able to withstand plenty of wear and tear if it is to stand the test of time and be worn a lifetime or passed down to various users before being thrown away. Isbjörn, mentioned above owing to its innovative spirit, also has a big focus on durability. All items are made with materials built to last, and have sewn-in labels with space for three kids’ names (the aim being that every piece should be used by at least three people). The company goes a step further, offering to replace any items that are broken. Why buy a new coat when your favorite comfy coat can be repaired and look as good as new? Companies should ideally offer customers tips to increase the lifespan of clothing. These can include information on how to repair and wash items. They can also include suggestions on where to donate clothes once customers are done with them. The brand Vaude, for instance, has a free online platform called iFixit, which provides instructions on how to fix various products.

Embracing Diversity

Sustainable companies that truly desire to make a difference should take other ethical considerations into account, one of which involves embracing diversity. The 21st century is arguably the first to embrace different races, body types, and ages in advertising and fashion. Brands should do more than simply market themselves as ethical; they should also put their money where their mouth is, releasing collections in sizes that reflect the diversity of their customer base. Just a few brands that have already done so include Adidas, Apiece Apart, and Diane von Furstenberg. The latter’s iconic wrap dresses are now available in sizes 14 to 24, thanks to its recent partnership with Honoré.

If you are ready to make more eco-conscious fashion choices, a good place to start is by checking out the sustainability policies of your favorite brands. Those that do value ethical working conditions, the environment, and other issues such as animal welfare, will usually share their values with you via their website and social media channels. Be vigilant about shopping for jewelry as well, since truly ethically sourced diamonds have more to them than simply complying with the Kimberley certificate standards. When choosing a brand to support, also think about the extent to which they are truly making an effort to effect change. Efforts can range from choosing innovative materials right through to improving durability and educating customers on how to increase a product’s lifespan. Finally, this millennium is one that is firmly focused on diversity. Ethical companies should support the idea that all human beings have a right to look and feel like their best selves through the clothes they wear. Companies can show their commitment to diversity by employing models with varying ages, races, and body types. They can also make collections in various sizes so that their garments can be worn by a truly representative group of people. One of the best ways to find out more about fashion brands is to check out their websites. If they are truly serious about sustainability and ethics, they will most likely have a sustainability section in which they list the many steps they are taking to change the superficial reputation that fashion can sometimes have.

Miss America Diverstiy, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force Selected

Miss America DEI

During this time of national protest and unrest, many participants and volunteers within our organization have reached out to MAO to express their thoughts and feelings regarding the ongoing conversation around racial justice and MAO’s role in it. We have heard you and we are committed to further action.

As many of you know, a few years ago MAO formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) task force led by Miss America 1990 Debbye Turner Bell. A few weeks ago, the Miss America Organization put out the ask to Current Titleholders, Forever Miss Americas, Miss America State Titleholder Association, Executive Directors, and Volunteers to gauge their willingness to form a new committee with renewed focus. We are grateful that 68 women and men from across the country expressed interest in being a part of the forward movement of Miss America.

Given the current makeup of the Miss America Board of Directors and staff, we felt that it was appropriate to have an outside Selection Committee take on this important task. Below are the professionals who volunteered their time and energy to MAO:

Samantha M. Fennell

Samantha is the founder of HONE, a New York-based business development consultancy that helps purpose-driven organizations in three key areas: revenue growth, strategy, D&I sales talent, and strategic partnerships. Her clients include media enterprises, advertising agencies, B Corps, and e-commerce platforms who share her passion for driving societal transformation through corporate action and social change.

Samantha has held senior-level and management positions at both major media companies and start-up ventures. From a nearly decade-long stint at Condé Nast where she rose to become the first African American Advertising Director of Vogue, to growing an international advertising agency and building a digital division from the ground up, Samantha has achieved many “firsts” in her 20+ year career and continues to push boundaries.

Samantha launched an online publication this year- A Blessing of Unicorns- a repository of inclusive insights that seeks to dispel the myth of scarcity of outstanding BIPOC and change the world for the next generation.

Brian Vaught

Brian has over 14 years of experience in the advertising, marketing, and media industries. In his current role, Brian leads Publicis Media’s US Talent Inclusion practice across its six brands – Starcom, Zenith, Spark Foundry, Blue449, Digitas, and Performics. Brian leads internal inclusion programs including the Publicis Media Multicultural Talent Pipeline and the agency’s Inclusion Council. He also serves as a mentor and coach to the company’s business resource groups (BRGs) and drives awareness of professional development experiences.

He is a member of Publicis Groupe’s Talent Engagement & Inclusion Council, a board member for the American Association of Advertising Agencies Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, Do The WeRQ, and the T Howard Foundation. He is a recipient of the 2018 Leadership Excellence Award by the Tri-State National Diversity Council

Jason Bryant

Jason Bryan is an Associate Clinical Professor in Educational Leadership at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama for the past 4 years, and is now serving as the director of the Truman Peirce Institute with the College of Education at Auburn. Jason spent 17 years in public K-12 schools serving as a science teacher, high school assistant principal, middle school principal, and high school principal.

Linda Karbo

Linda Karbo serves as Marketing Brand Manager for Residence Education and Housing Services (REHS) at Michigan State University where she is responsible for strategic marketing initiatives & brand oversight of both REHS and the MSU Union. She is proud to be part of the task force that has advanced the “Hate Has No Home Here” and “You Have a Home Here” initiatives at MSU, which pledge and promise to foster a diverse, inclusive, equitable, and safe environment for all within the Spartan community.

Prior to joining the REHS team, Linda served as Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and Special Events for the MSU College of Arts and Letters for six years and the Assistant Director of Development for the MSU College of Music for three years.

Linda is passionate about relationship building, empathetic listening, mentoring, bridging connections, and the art of the written word. She always has her eye out for a quality life hack or budding trend, and sincerely appreciates good manners and a can-do attitude. Linda describes herself as a realist with a very real layer of imagination mixed in and believes that integrity with a side of empathy is key.

Jennifer Munger

Jennifer Munger is a former elementary school principal and special education teacher. Jennifer’s experiences showed her the importance of every child having an effective teacher, especially students struggling academically and/or engaging in challenging behavior impacting their learning.  She is currently an instructor in the area of special education at Dakota State University.  Jennifer helps preservice teachers and strives to teach effectiveness by developing awareness and understanding of the students that will be entering their classrooms, leading them to better research-based instructional and behavioral tools and strategies.

Abby Charles

Abby Charles is a Program Director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), The public health institute for Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia. At IPHI she provides leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives and provides oversight to a network of Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the Institute for Public Health Innovation addresses cross-jurisdictional policymaking and information sharing, program refinement, policy, research, training, implementation, evaluation, and technical assistance.

Abby is one of IPHI’s lead trainers and provides technical assistance to organizations regionally and nationally on health and racial equity, collaboration & partnership development, community health workers, health in all policies, women’s health, gender-based violence, and HIV.

Abby is an Adjunct Instructor of Clinical Research and Leadership at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. She is also a graduate of the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health Promotion. She presently serves on the board of The Well Project, the Bishop Anstey High School Alumnae Association of Washington, DC and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, DC.

Justice illustration

Global Though Leader on Ending Racism

George Floyd’s murder ignited a wave of national and global protests demanding justice and change, including police reform and reparations for Black Americans. Structural Racism is not exclusive to the United States. Racism is clearly a global problem.

In a new interview with C.M. Rubin, Michael Baran, the Co-Author of Subtle Acts of Exclusion, says communities “need to work to address structural inequalities in societies in health, wealth, education, and criminal injustice.” Baran believes that it is important to start talking about bias with preschool children. “If we don’t teach them about this, they will learn passively through all the subtle messages in our culture, which leads to unconscious biases.” Baran additionally advocates for more focus on training teachers to be inclusive, “as teachers can have unconscious biases as well.”

Michael Baran is the Senior Partner & Digital Solutions Lead in InQUEST. He is also the Co-Author of Subtle Acts of Exclusion: How to Understand, Identify, and Stop Microaggressions. As an Author, Speaker, and also a Strategist for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Baran has been committed to conducting and organizing ethnographic research for varies social issues, including race and identity, racial disparities in education, violence against children, healthy housing, environmental health, human services, criminal justice reform, immigration reform, climate change, and early childhood development. CMRubinWorld’s award-winning series, The Global Search for Education, brings together distinguished thought leaders in education and innovation from around the world to explore the key learning issues faced by most nations. The series has become a highly visible platform for global discourse on 21st-century learning, offering a diverse range of innovative ideas which are presented by the series founder, C. M. Rubin, together with the world’s leading thinkers.

City of Seattle Diversity Trainings

By Eamonn Burke

The City of Seattle recently held a training about “Interrupting Internalized Racial Superiority” for their white employees. Traits of internalized racism, according to the diversity trainers that led the session, include individualism, objectivity, and intellectualization.

The training included an extensive list of offenses that white people can commit against their co-workers, as well as a guideline for being allies to minorities. The also city encourages self affirmation in one’s contribution to the persistence of racism, with a goal of “undoing whiteness”. A visual aid of the racist “cycle” was included in the training. Another handout read: “racism is not our fault but we are responsible.”

A major focus of the training was that white people had to “give up” certain privileged liberties to truly purge themselves of internalized racism. These include comfort as well as social status and control. Lastly, they gave examples of achieving the status of a “white ally” to describe the goal of the training.

The goal, as described by the city in an email, is for “city employees who identify as white to join this training to learn, reflect, challenge ourselves, and build skills and relationships that help us show up more fully as allies and accomplices for racial justice.”