AFH Photo//Esther Bobo
I never really thought about my race. Of course, I was aware that there were different races, but when I was younger, I simply identified my race as Hispanic without a second thought. 
However, as I began to think more about race, my identity became confused. Although my mother is light-skinned and my father is dark-skinned, they’re both from the Dominican Republic.They had three children and none of us look alike. My parents pointed out the difference between my second oldest brother and me through the nicknames “morenito” and “blanquita.” It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that colorism fueled these nicknames and plagues the Dominican Republic. 
Growing up in the DR was confusing. To understand where I’m coming from, you must understand what colorism is. According to an article in Time called “The Difference Between Racism and Colorism,” colorism is “the prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their color.”
Colorism is your mom straightening your hair because “it looks more presentable.” Colorism is your dad not letting you to go out to play when the sun’s out because “you’ll get darker.” Colorism is not identifying yourself as black because you’re too proud to be Dominican to be anything else. This thinking has poisoned Dominican society; people who live on the island have a rigid, preconceived idea of what it means to “look Dominican.”
Some Dominicans praise my European features, like my light skin and curly hair, but don’t think I look “Dominican enough”—AKA black enough—because my skin isn’t sun-kissed like theirs. I struggled to accept myself the way I am. How can I say I’m black if my skin says something different? I don’t identify as black because I don’t look black. I want to accept my roots, but I a constantly shut down because I don’t fit the mold. 
My mother, my grandmother, my great-grandmother and I were all born in the DR. We are by definition and by history “black.” But if I told strangers that, I would get odd looks. Why? Because although my lineage is black, I do not go through the same struggles as my dark-skinned older brother. By sight, I am not identifiable as black, so I don’t face the same prejudices darker-skinned people do. 
I think that to be Dominican is to accept all of the cultures that influenced the DR. Spanish, Taino and African are all important races that have contributed to the shaping of Dominican language, art and culture. Accepting that can clear the debate of what a Dominican is supposed to look like. The term Hispanic is a melting pot. Hispanics come in all shapes and colors. 

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Would you listen to your pores if they spoke? Our skin is exposed to bacteria, sun, weather and dust every day, so I’ve decided to take care of it. I have oily skin. The first thirty minutes after washing it is the time span of my experience with “normal skin” (neither too oily or too dry). After that, my pores start their machines and my skin becomes oily again. Blotting sheets are my best friend; these little packs of grease absorbers are the best squares of paper you’ll need. Heads up: Oily skin reacts weirdly during the winter—dry in the morning, oily the rest of the day.  
Moisturizing is the best thing that can happen to skin. You’re feeding the skin and smoothing the lines. The skin on your face is thinner and more sensitive than the rest of the body, so the products you use for the rest of the body will be too harsh for the face. During spring and summer I use a liquid based moisturizer, but during the colder seasons I pull out the balms and thicker creams. During the winter season, I don’t feel like my best self having dry, reptile skin. Out in the cold the skin on my face becomes tight, and with every gesture and expression it feels like it cracking and peeling.  
Winter feels so solemn, like a time of mourning. Applying lotion and inhaling its fragrance is a short five-minute trip back to summer. The relaxation of putting on a face mask once or twice a week feels like the first breath of air after surfacing from the pool. Tapping on toner, smearing on serum, and staring in the mirror gives a sense of self-assurance, a period of meditation.  
Sumeya Ali, an 18-year-old O’Bryant student, says she needs to moisturize more heavily  during the winter season. She replaces tea tree oil with shea butter. She finds it’s easier to care for her skin during the summer than winter. During the summer she picked up the habit of drinking more water, and getting more sleep.  
Another student at the O’Bryant, 16-year-old Cypress Wilson, also notices that his skin gets drier during the winter season. To prevent this, he washes with African black soap, and moisturizes with cocoa butter. Everybody has different skin textures and conditions, so speaking to a dermatologist will help you figure out the skincare routine that matches you.  
After getting the opinion of numerous students, it seems there is a consensus that heavier moisturizing is preferred during the winter season and that skincare becomes more complicated. The sun isn’t blessing us the way it does during the summer. You will definitely catch me stocking up on lip oils and oil serums. Anything with the word serum on it will definitely be gold for the skin. I’ll be glowing so brightly that you might mistake the season for summer.   
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On Saturday, October 16, CNN News reported “The YPG women’s unit takes back the city of Raqqa from ISIS.”  
The YPG women’s unit (often abbreviated as the YPJ) is the all-female brigade of the YPG, also known as the People’s Protection Unit. The YPJ fight for the rights of citizens in Syria, where a violent civil war has been raging for five years. According to Maxim, the YPJ has had several victories over ISIS over the years, the greatest being when they regained control of the Syrian city of Kobani from the jihadist group in 2015. Sarya Mahmoud, a YPJ trainer and commander who was featured in Reuters, said, “Female fighters give hope to women in the towns they liberate, because we’re going to free them and give them the volition they lost years ago, not just from Daesh, but from the male mentality and the government mentality.”  
The women of the YPJ decided to fight for the rights of Syrian citizens even if it meant putting their lives on the line. These women fighters know that, if captured, they will likely be raped and killed; therefore they fight knowing they must succeed in battle.According to the New York Times,ISIS fears the YPJ because they are “ashamed” to be killed by a woman.  
When Asya Abdullah, a politician who advocates for the YPJ, was featured in the Independent, she said “The hallmark of a free and democratic life is a free woman. ISIS would like to reduce women to slaves. We show them they are wrong and we can do anything.” She also emphasizes the creation of the YPJ is a fascinating development in a region where women’s rights are often repressed. 
Although the YPJ are a unique phenomenon in the Middle East, they receive relatively little media coverage, as does the plight of Syrian women in general. However the YPJ women stand to defend themselves. The Kurdish Project wrote, “Thanks to their role in liberating Kobani in Syria, the YPJ have captured the attention of both socialist and non-socialist feminists around the world.”  
Sidebar: Reporter’s Reflection 
The women of the YPJ represent what feminism should look like in the 21st century. Women should be given equal opportunities in society when it comes to jobs and political positions. Teenage girls should know they can contribute a lot to society; they can fight for their rights when they are degraded. Every girl has the right to an education. Girls should grow into brave and courageous women who are not afraid to take on any task, just like the YPJ women are not afraid to speak and fight for the rights of all women. Like the YPJ, we as young girls should continually fight for our presence in society—but the war we face is sexism in our everyday lives. 
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the only thing 
stopping us 
from achieving  
the american dream, 
is our own  
confining minds; 
we set 
we say 
but the only  
thing needed 
is to stop. 
and let ourselves 
be free 

is like 
with the warmth 
of companionship, 
and secret 
far away, 
when you 
get too close 
and see through  
the flames, 
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Summer rain, 
She lost her words as she rapidly stormed in her thoughts 
Her sweet big brown eyes drizzled with loss 
Fixed her plumped lips and  
Her soft voice roared like a lion in agony. 
Summer rain, 
Her blooming rose which grew on its own 
Soft and fragile but she knows 
Each petal and catastrophe the wind blows. 
Summer rain, 
 Chants of forbidding droplets 
 Every drop that landed, hard as comets  
     Hold on to your roots, for the growth that was promised. 
Summer rain, 
  Her blooming rose reclaiming its ego 
 All tender and shy, your wasted beauty that once was sowed 
  Regrets and shame, with nothing to blame 
 Keep flying around in hopes to grow. 
Summer rain, 
 She wants to hold your hand in hers 
        The love that was placed internally, shockingly ached 
            She will teach them to see, all this wasted beauty as she escapes her thoughts 
A silent background, with just few remains. 
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