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The Life of Winnie Mandela: An Overview by Khari Dawson (2018)

When we think of the name Mandela, the first thing that might come to our minds is Nelson Mandela, the president of South Africa and one of the most prominent social activists of all time. But Nelson wasn’t the only Mandela that wanted change and equality throughout the world. Winnie Mandela, who died today, on April 2, 2018 is also a highly prominent figure in the way of activism.

Winnie was born on September 26th, 1936 in a town called Bizana in South Africa. Her name at birth was Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela. Winnie Mandela began studying social worker at Jan H. Hofmeyr School of Social Work in Johannesburg and was a practicing social worker when she me rising attorney and activist Nelson Mandela. She and Nelson Mandela only got to enjoy marriage for 5 years before he was imprisoned for 38 years for his activism.

She became his spokesperson while his incarcerated and an activist in her own right while he was imprisoned. When he was released decades later, in 1990, they briefly reunited before she later divorced him in 1996. She continued her brand of activism upon their separation and was soon jailed and put into solitary confinement because of her association with the anti-apartheid movement. She wrote a book about it called 491 Days.

Some people began to deem Winnie Mandela as problematic and controversial because she was accused of the murder of men and children during 1980’s. But many people still supported her, naming her the “Mother of the Nation” due to her contributions to dismantling apartheid, along with her husband, Nelson Mandela.

An Analysis of Gordan Parks' Photo 'Untitled' by Khari Dawson (2018)



    Untitled is a color photograph shot by songwriter, musician, and photographer Gordon Parks in 1956. There can be many interpretations of what is taking place in the photo. The image is shot outside in the daytime from behind a fence invaded by ivy, of which three young children are standing behind, lined up next to each other. Two of the children, who are both black boys, are holding toy guns that are aimed in different directions at something out of frame. The lighter-skinned black boy in the middle looks like more of a leader. He holds his toy in his hand more like a real gun, unlike the darker boy to the left of him, who looks sort of bored with his toy. They both wear white tops and brown shorts, like it is an unofficial uniform of some sort. The other child, who is white, stares into the camera with a grin one would describe as unintentionally creepy. He doesn’t have a gun or a shirt, his hands are wrapped around some of the wiring on the fence. He appears as if  whatever the two black boys next to him are on the watch for won’t hurt him. There is rubble and a dirty white house behind them where someone is watching them from a window, maybe another child or maybe a guardian of some sort.

Gordon Parks uses the children in this photograph to illustrate racial tension in the fifties.

One can see how this depicts racial tension in the fifties when they look at the simple fact that the black boys are holding guns, on alert, while the white boy looks unaffected. Racism was alive and well during the time this picture was taken. Emmett Till had only been brutally murdered the year before. It makes perfect sense for blacks at the time to teach their kids how to defend themselves, whether it be with guns or with their bare hands. White kids however, were safe in their communities and didn’t have to worry about being randomly attacked due to their skin color.

The black kids are also fully clothed, which depicts a certain respectability within black communities that was expected, even in poverty. Again, this picture was taken at a time of racism, and black people were coming together in groups to fight it. The kids could be illustrating unity between blacks with their white shirts and brown shorts because it shows that they are both one and the same, and want the same thing for their race.

      Lastly the white boy in the picture is calm, and even has a smile on his face. This depicts how little whites had to worry in society in the fifties. The fact that he doesn’t have an outfit that matches the black kids’ shows the freedom to just be a kid without worry and judgment.  He also doesn’t have a gun, which symbolizes that whites weren’t in a position in which they had to protect themselves at all times, because they were always protected and often the aggressor due to Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation. The three could also be representative of kids just being able to play together without race impacting them in a bad way, before they realize their differences.

        With the combination of body language, clothing, and inanimate objects between the three children in the photograph Untitled, Gordon Parks sparks thought about the racial tension of the 1950’s in the United States.



Parks, Gordon. Untitled. 1956, HYPERALLERGIC,                                                          


Will Gun Laws Significantly Lower the Number of Mass Shootings in the United States? by Khari Dawson (2018)


     On Valentine’s day, Febuary 14, 2018, 19 year-old  Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 17 students in Florida at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and wounding 14 others. According to headlines around the world, this was the 18th school shooting in the United States since the beginning of 2018. Despite the frequency of gunfire on school campuses in this year alone, not one mass shooting in the history of the United States has inspired a change in gun laws. This fact begs the question: will gun laws significantly lower the number of mass shooting in the United States?

Many activists for gun restrictions believe restricting access to guns will stop school shootings as they refer to Australia’s actions to restrict gun access in 1996 and 2002. In Australia on April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant shot up a tourist spot in Port Arthur, killing 35 people and injuring 18.   The government took this tragedy seriously, and recognized that they had the power to stop mass shootings that might happen in the future. The federal government encouraged Australians to give up their assault weapons through a Medicare Tax funded gun buyback program, and the prime minister banned semi-automatics and other military styled weapons of that nature. There is yet to be a mass shooting of that magnitude in Australia 22 years later since.

In 2002, although this attack was a lot smaller and less severe, the Australian government took it just as seriously when shooter Huan Yun Xiang fired shots at a college in Melbourne, killing two people. Lawmakers created a National Handgun Agreement, a redeveloped gun trafficking policy, and another buyback act after this incident. This significantly lowered gun violence in general there.

Australia’s response to gun violence illustrates that banning guns will not only halt mass shootings, but gun crime in general.  So what is stopping the United States from following Australia’s lead? A safe, gun violence free America is at the our fingertips. All that needs to be done is enforcing Australia-like gun laws.




Leaf, Clifton. How Australia All But Ended Gun Violence. 2018, FORTUNE,

Farber, Madeline. Florida School Shooting Timeline. 2018, Fox News,


Photo by Khari Dawson

How to Respectfully and Morally Stan by Khari Dawson (2018)


Not many individuals understand the art of stanning. Many find it sad, desperate, and unnecessarily intense. And in most cases, that is the truth! Stanning can bring out the worst in people, especially when it is not gone into with morals set in place. One may be asking themselves right now “what is this stanning that you speak of?”

Well, the Urban Dictionary definition reads “the act of being overly obsessed with an artist/person/character/etc.” The definition gives the example of Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan”, which is about a man who writes hysteric and frightening letters to Eminem, of which he thinks he doesn’t read. Although this definition is mostly accurate, many people have redefined the term, and have added their own set of morals and respect to the art of stanning.


The first step in learning how to respectfully stan is choosing who to stan! This step usually isn’t done with conscious effort, but it can be! One should think about the things that they enjoy. For instance, if one enjoys music, they should think about stanning a musical artist like Ariana Grande, or even a group of musical artists like Fifth Harmony. If one enjoys books or television series’, they should think about stanning a character from one of them, or the book or show as a whole. Choosing who to stan should never be forced. Why would one force themselves to love something they didn’t? Always choose something/someone that you are drawn to and enjoy.


Step two is learning about the person being stanned. This step is another reason why one should always choose someone that they love to stan, because one is more likely to want to learn about them if they do. Learning about the person being stanned just entails finding out the background and the beginning of them/it. If one is stanning a band, they should find out how the band was formed, and where all the individual members are from. With a show or book, learn about the author or producers. The best way to do this is through interviews. Going into Youtube and searching the person being stanned’s name and “interview” will greatly help one get a better understanding of them.


Step three is pointing out boundaries. This step is more so for those who stan real people. Many stans are under the delusion that their favorites are supposed to share everything going on in their personal lives. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Buying the person being stanned’s music or books doesn’t come with a key to what they are doing and what is going on with them at all times. They are humans, which can’t be stressed enough. Snooping into their personal business and telling others that stan them is highly inappropriate. Something else to steer clear of is bullying their significant others. If the person being stanned is dating someone, it is childish and disgusting to go out of one’s way to express the disdain that they have for them.


In conclusion, with the combination of choosing someone to stan,  gaining knowledge of that person, and pointing out boundaries with them, you are guaranteed to respectfully stan a person, a group of people, a show, or a book.


About Khari Dawson


Khari Isabel Soleil (pronounced So-Lay) Dawson is an emerging writer and trained performance artist serving as current production intern at Liberated Muse Arts Group. In 2015, at the age of 11, she was cast in the Live Garra Theatre Company play A Matter of Worth which debuted in the inaugural Women's Voices Theater Festival in the Washington DC metropolitan area.  She has served as technical director and assistant director on several Liberated Muse Arts Group productions, including the debut of When We Were Goddesses at ARTSCAPE festival and Miss Trudy's Birthday which debuted at the Kennedy Center. A graduate of Benjamin D. Foulois Performing Arts Academy, she currently is home-schooled and enrolled in classes at Prince George's Community College. 

Her work has been featured in The Baltimore City Paper and Reflections Literary & Arts Magazine. You can check out some of her work on her website