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7 mental health Instagram accounts that support, motivate, and inspire

There is always talk about how toxic social media is. It seems that every time I speak to my friends, at least one of them is threatening to delete Instagram or Twitter. However, social media, and Instagram accounts in particular, can simultaneously be a space for self-expression and inspiration, and a cleanse for one’s mental health. 

Some Instagram users are working to normalize conversations surrounding mental health. They are utilizing self-expression on Instagram to let the rest of the world know they can too.

As these influencers share their stories or provide a platform for others to do so, they help reduce the shame that tends to follow mental health concerns. And, they provide encouragement or advice for their audience at the same time. 

Here are 7 Instagram accounts to follow when you are looking for support, motivation, or open discussion about mental health. 

Black Girl In Om

Lauren Ash created Black Girl in Om she was just 22 years old. As written on their website,  Black Girl in Om aims to “unapologetically expand the consciousness of Black women to transform. Period.”

As well as following @blackgirlinom and all of its self-expression on Instagram, you can listen to the podcast with the same name, which focuses on guided meditation for Black women. 

POC, particularly Black women, deserve the space to practice self-reflection and self-care without the white gaze. Ash has effectively created such a space. 

Notes From Your Therapist

Allyson Dinneen has successfully accumulated over 300,000 followers for her Instagram account Notes From Your Therapist.

This writer turns her thoughts on relationships, grief, and human emotion into notes of insight and affirmation. Read one of her posts every morning to motivate yourself, or ponder one of her insights throughout your day. 

Alexandra Elle

Alexandra Elle, writer and Insta influencer, encourages self-love and acceptance.

You may easily relate to Elle, as she shares her struggles and revelations relating to relationships and healing. Her Instagram is welcoming and aesthetically pleasing with words of affirmation, encouraging notes, and poetry. She also hosts The Hey Girl Podcast and meditation workshops.

If you are looking for extra support through a rough time, following Alexandra Elle on Instagram is a small step you can take. 

On Our Moon

This Instagram account focuses on “vulnerable storytelling.”

The founder, Alexandra D’amour, works to promote real talk about trauma and mental health. You can read and hear the stories of her audience on Instagram, her website, and the On Our Moon podcast.

D’amour uses these platforms to support causes such as Black Lives Matter and intersectional feminism in addition to mental health. 

Lalah Delia

Delia is an author and wellness educator. Somewhat similar to Alexandra Elle’s account, she posts words of affirmation and inspiring quotes organized in an aesthetically pleasing way.

You can also read her book Vibrate Higher Daily in which she “invites her readers to ‘step into their power’ and embrace vibrational-based living, which is centered around being in tune with our agency, intuition, and intention.”

Hannah Daisy

Daisy is an artist, illustrator, and mental health advocate. Through an artistic medium, Daisy supports those living outside the gender binary and facilitates conversations about depression, sexual assault, mental health, and trauma.

Daisy’s Instagram is one you should follow to support your practice of self-care and self-acceptance. A piece of advice, inspiration quote, or illustration can have a huge impact on your day. 

Girls’ Night In

We all have preconceived notions about what self-care should look like: spending time with friends, treating yourself to a nice meal, putting on a face mask, etc.

But self-care can look different for everybody. And true self-expression is going to look completely different for different people on Instagram.

Girl’s Night In has created a space for introverts and homebodies. On this Instagram account, you can find advice for self-care and ways to celebrate yourself and your mental health at home. One can appreciate Girls’ Night In especially around the time of the pandemic, as most of us have had to learn how to care for ourselves in isolation. 

Let these Instagram accounts cleanse your mental health

Whether you consider yourself happy and healthy or not, surrounding yourself with a positive environment undoubtedly supports your well-being. Social media is an environment we constantly find ourselves in, so this principle applies just the same. 

One way to ensure that your experience on Instagram is a healthy one is to post and consume what lifts you up. We hope that you can find comfort and positivity in these Instagram accounts or others you may follow. 

Wagwan Nadine Ijewere? Celebrating your exploration of Black identity

Nadine Ijewere is a London-born photographer who explores Jamaican aesthetics and Black identity through her work. She studied at the London College of Fashion, where she recognized how Western culture tended to dominate and oppress non-Western cultures and fashions.

Her studies along with her own experiences with her Nigerian-Jamaican parentage propelled her to highlight Black and mixed-race models and concepts in her work. 

Kulture Hub wants to celebrate her recent projects: Tallawah, Nadine Ijewere: Beautiful Disruption, and her photo book Our Own Selves. Through fashion and photography, Ijewere is celebrating Black and Jamaican identities and showing us how art can challenge societal norms.

Tallawah: Celebrates Jamaican aesthetics

In 2020, Nadine Ijewere collaborated with the experimental hairstylist Jawara Wauchope to create Tallawah. This project examines the beauty in Jamaican communities and their “creative roots,” as written in the British Journal of Photography.

Ijewere and Wauchope first realized that they share Jamaican heritage when they met shooting a cover for British Vogue. Together, they conceptualized and created “an ode to the Jamaican diaspora’s distinct aesthetic,” Kemi Alemoru writes in Vogue. The series was shot in Jamaica and London, producing a collection of images with both glamourous detail and resonant solemnity. Ijewere tells Vogue,

Tallawah means ‘be strong and fearless. These are strong women, some with their own stories of struggle, but the way that they hold themselves, the way they express themselves is so inspiring.

Nadine Ijewere

Tallawah celebrates the strength and beauty in Jamaican women, and Ijewere channels that inspiration into her photography for us to recognize.

Nadine Ijewere: Beautiful Disruption

Just 28 years old, Ijewere’s successes have already left a significant mark on the history of photography. In March 2021, she became the first Black woman to shoot a cover for American Vogue. 

Three years prior, she became the first woman of color to shoot a British Vogue cover. In 2020, she won the Infinity Award from New York’s International Center of Photography. It is clear that Ijewere has a lot to celebrate, which brings us to her new exhibition, “Nadine Ijewere: Beautiful Disruption.”

The pieces in “Beautiful Disruption” act as an abstract timeline of Ijewere’s photography career from 2017 until 2020. It includes about 80 images and three films. You can find this exhibition is on display at C/O Berlin’s Amerika Haus.

“Nadine Ijewere: Beautiful Disruption” is an important piece of work for two main reasons. First, Nadine Ijewere’s name is in the title as it should be. This exhibition is consciously celebrating the accomplishments of a young, Black, Nigerian-Jamaican woman.

She deserves this recognition, no doubt. Especially considering how the accomplishments of Black women are often understated and underappreciated.

Second, comes the “Beautiful Disruption” aspect of the project. Her work is questioning our current beauty standards, creating room for Black people, who are often left out of white, Western beauty standards. Ijewere tells Vogue,

I photograph beautiful Black people. Beautiful Black families. Beautiful people of color from many different backgrounds. My work has been penetrating an industry which for so long has shut us out. This to me, is a beautiful disruption.

Nadine Ijewere

Our Own Selves

In collaboration with Prestel was able to release her first photo book this year and we couldn’t be more proud. In an interview with Teeth Magazine, she spoke on celebrating the beauty of the black identity.

“In terms of the photographs, I wanted to include projects I have loved working on, projects that for me celebrated beauty and identity and displayed the underlying themes of my work best.”

– Nadine Ijewere for Teeth Magazine

To get the Our Own Selves photo book (click here).

Nadine Ijewere and her relevance in Black representation

At a time when Black Lives Matter is at the forefront of our minds, and Jamaica is demanding the reparations they deserve from their colonizers, Ijewere’s work couldn’t be more relevant.

Her pieces are unwavering in their elegance and obduracy. She is reminding us of the beauty and strength in diverse Black identities. Ijewere tells the British Journal of Photography,

There are so many beautiful people — I want my work to be a celebration of this. We are diverse, and that should be reflected.

Nadine Ijewere

To learn more about Nadine Ijewere, you can visit her website, follow her on Instagram, or view her profile on the CLM Agency website.

The United States is homeless: Is our government heartless?

Right now, there are over half a million people in the United States are homeless. And this number is only growing as we see the casualties from the COVID economic recession.

These people are struggling as our country sets challenges before them. They cannot cover rent as prices continually climb in cities where large United States homeless populations exist.

They are not supported in their efforts to hold a job, let alone find one that pays a living wage. They are hard-pressed to find safe places to sleep and adequate healthcare.

Something needs to be done, and the eradication of homelessness in the US may be more attainable than you think. 

An unjust distribution of wealth in the United States

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that ending homelessness in the US would cost $20 billion dollars. Now, that’s a lot of money. But in the grand scheme of things, is it really?

Jeff Bezos’ net worth is currently $192.6 billion. Just think about that for a second. Moreover, according to the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database, the U.S. government spent $778 billion on its military in 2020. 

With a laugh like that, there’s no wonder why the United States has so many homeless…

If we had subtracted the $20 billion needed to end homelessness, our military would still have had $758 billion to spend—a whopping $506 billion more than China’s $252 billion (China being the second largest military spender in the world). 

 The distribution of wealth within our country is a gross injustice. Many of us view homelessness as an inevitable part of life and only give performative efforts to support the homeless people in the United States.

Because of this many of us don’t realize is that the money to virtually end homelessness in the United States is available.

The homeless are not set up to succeed

It’s no secret that our economy is built to support the white and wealthy and further disadvantage low-income individuals.

Currently, the government gives over $70 billion in tax breaks to homeowners, reducing mortgage interest. According to Giacomo Bagnara in the New York Times, “Congress could shift billions in annual federal subsidies from rich homeowners to people who don’t have homes.” 

These tax breaks tend to help wealthy homeowners more than lower- and middle-class homeowners—the people who may actually need support—so Bagnara’s point makes perfect sense.

Why should federal subsidies disproportionately support the rich rather than prioritizing housing homeless individuals? Well, some might ignorantly argue that our government already “wastes” enough on programs helping the homeless.

But how effective are these programs, really? 

volunteer United states homeless
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

Performative and ineffective charity

The money our government actually does spend on helping the homeless is spent irresponsibly on short-term solutions. Bagnara from the New York Times writes,

Government programs focus on palliative care: Annual spending on shelters has reached $12 billion a year, according to Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on homelessness.

Rather than provide housing for the homeless in the United States, cities offer showers, daycare centers, and bag checks.

It sounds like the money we spend on temporarily sheltering the homeless, providing them showers and storage, is performative and irresponsible. We could use this money to build much-needed housing instead as a long-term solution.

According to a 2012 study, if the average monthly rent raises by $100 in a city, there will be an associated increase in homelessness by 15% in that area. We need to slow down the upward trend of housing prices by creating more housing. And this can be done successfully.

We can use Tokyo as an example. They have been increasing housing by about 2 percent a year, and their housing prices have remained consistent. In New York, on the other hand, housing expanded by only half a percent, and housing prices skyrocketed as a result. 

Housing is a human right

Privileged society tends to dehumanize those without homes. We avoid eye contact with them on the street. We hope they don’t approach us and “bother” us for food or money as if they are pests. Our overall lack of humanity is deplorable.

One step we can take toward a just society is prioritizing housing as a human right.

If we repurpose the billions we spend on annual federal subsidies, the military, and ineffective charitable programs, we could end homelessness in the United States. The money is there. We just need to find the humanity to allocate it correctly.

Freelance creative Emmanuel Whajah leaves his mark on the world

Emmanuel Whajah is a German-born photographer, videographer, and creative director. His creative touch led him to success at a young age. Just 27-years-old, Whajah is the creative director for Keke Palmer and has worked with many other celebrities such as Les Twins, Tyga, Migos, and Rita Ora.  

Kulture Hub has been following Whajah’s work over the years, and we’ve come to admire his success as a Black freelancer. Last week, Whajah was kind enough to speak with Kulture Hub. Read further to learn about the German-born photographer’s background, his goals as a creative, and more. 

german-born photographer Emmanuel Whajah
Portrait of Emmanuel Whajah

A dancer turned photographer and videographer

Kulture Hub: Could you tell us a little bit about how you started in your industry?

Emmanuel Whajah: Yeah, so I started, like, nine years ago, being just a hip hop dancer, and I started just shooting some videos for my dance crew back in the days. And that got very popular back in the time when we were dancing. So I got into all the hip hop competitions and won some championships.

And since then, I started to get more into video and stuff. I think that was the time when YouTube was getting more attention in the dance industry. So basically, we started doing more dance videos. And yeah, that’s how I started actually… that brought me into the music industry with other media shooting.

Tyga (Photo cred: Emmanuel Whajah)

Kulture Hub: How do you feel that your background in dance has impacted your work as a photographer and a videographer in terms of your artistic eye?

Emmanuel Whajah: Basically, I would say, because of dancing, because you try to do something with your body and give a message out, you have the body language. So that’s almost the same way with the videography stuff and photography stuff.

So basically, trying to create something and trying to give a message out to the people with your creativity, maybe touch people emotionally, in a way and inspire or motivate them. That really helped me to even understand how to shoot people, specifically. And for me, as a dancer, working with big artists from the music industry helped me a little bit more to understand the music and how they move around, and how they stage and stuff like that. 

Challenges along the way for Emmanuel Whajah

Kulture Hub: Were there any notable struggles that you encountered on your way towards success that you’d be willing to share?

Emmanuel Whajah: I think the hard part, just being successful in that area is just being consistent. Trying to network with people, but you can’t trust everybody. I think that’s the hard part.

Because when you start to reach a specific goal, and people recognize that, you know, like, from my part, working with artists, people see, “oh, cool, he’s working with artists and that model or influencer,” and people try to try to get to know you a little bit more, but not because of you… And basically, that’s [the] dark side of it. Being in the public eye. 

Kulture Hub: How has COVID impacted your work in general, and has it hindered your work in any way or inspired certain projects?

Emmanuel Whajah: Actually, I didn’t really get hit by the COVID situation, basically, because at that time, I had a little accident before COVID even came. So, I was released from the hospital. And I think two, three weeks later, the whole COVID situation lockdown came up. And that was when I had the call from Keke [Palmer] because she wanted me to be a part of a media team.

So basically, that helped me a lot to be more creative and be free to create something for her. All my jobs I had at that time, I gave to other creatives because I was so busy with being the content creator of Keke Palmer… so basically, I really shared all my other jobs with other creators to help them out a little bit to get through this hard time. 

keke palmer
Keke Palmer (Photo cred: Emmanuel Whajah)

Making an impact through art 

Kulture Hub: Do you feel it’s important to address social issues or make social commentary through your work?

Emmanuel Whajah: I would say it’s important to stay woke… Even if you aren’t creative, it’s important to have something in your work to spread a little bit of a message out. Because for me, it’s, for example, when the whole Black Lives Matter situation came up…

I was so shocked with the whole situation. When they started to protest in Germany, I went to the event and shot the video for [all the] protests in Germany. And that video went viral without even me planning just when the whole situation in Nigeria came up…

german-born photographer emmanuel whajah
(Photo cred: Emmanuel Whajah)

So basically, if I have something and want to say something when something is going on in the world, I tried to be focused and tried to use it in my creative space to let people know.

Kulture Hub: What are your long-term goals as a creative? Is there a certain legacy that you’d like to leave?

Emmanuel Whajah: I would love to have my own company with a lot of talented creatives to build something great. Like, having an own Empire with all creators around the world, if possible, and just be you know, just be a role model and help other people to just be themselves.

Because I know it’s hard to be in those creative areas. Not a lot of people get the chance to do huge things. So basically, I want to be somebody who wants to help others. And that’s somewhere people can go and just be creative. Even if it’s just a school. 

Kulture Hub: What do you feel is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a young creative?

Emmanuel Whajah: Oh, being humble, and just be yourself. That’s the most important thing. I think that’s the key, since I’ve been starting the whole creative part in my life. So be just been humbled and daunting. You know, don’t take things for granted. And just appreciate every moment in life. Yeah, I think that’s the most important thing, just being humbled.

And, of course, being focused and work hard, but humbleness is the most important thing. Because if you get to a point in life, with your goals, and with the whole success, people try to, you know, get lost in that kind of lane. But you got to be, you got to be as woke as you can, you gotta be careful for what’s happening around you. So you don’t fall into any temptations. So just being humble, and stay focused, I would say.

Emmanuel Whajah is leaving a mark on the creative world

Kulture Hub thanks Whajah for sharing his work and journey with us. The German-born photographer’s energy and mastery as a freelance creative is something to aspire to. We are eager to see what he will achieve next.

To learn more about Whajah, watch Kulture Hub’s YouTube video here to learn more about his brand and experience.

When climate justice intersects with economic rebellion, the world changes

Climate change often affects the people embedded in poverty in the most, resulting in disastrous and unjust effects for people who are already the most vulnerable. But climate justice is a glimmer of hope in a sea of despair, and economic rebellion may be the key to unlocking a new kind of future…

Despite being scattered across the globe, too many countries share a sense of unrest. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen many economic protests in countries including, but not limited to: Haiti, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Iraq. These remonstrations represented issues such as income inequality, scarcity of resources, corruption, power outages, water shortages, and more.

Although the groups in these countries protest for their own distinct reasons, they all demonstrate ways in which climate justice and economic justice are interrelated. Climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities as well as countries struggling with poverty. Recent protests in Iran and Cuba are reminding us of this phenomenon. 

First, what’s going on in Iran?

People have been protesting in many cities across Iran as electricity blackouts have become pervasive. According to BBCthe government attributed these blackouts to severe drought and high demand, as many were relying on air conditioning for the hot summer. 

There have also been objections to water shortages, and thousands of people working in Iran’s oil industry are protesting minimal pay and unacceptable working conditions. With all these issues and challenges presenting amidst the pandemic, many are questioning the Iranian government. Some are even calling for “death to the dictator.”

As climate change contributes to drought, power outages, and more, one can understand how these issues can exacerbate economic differences between high- and low-income communities.

Those with less money have fewer resources to cope with these issues. These climate and economic injustices are increasing tensions in Iran, which we are seeing in Cuba right now as well. 

Why are people protesting in Cuba?

On July 11 in San Antonio de los Baños, Cubans saw the beginnings of their first major protest in over 60 years. That protest has since spread throughout many cities in the country, including Havana. People have taken to the streets to protest declining living conditions. They are calling an end to the communist regime. Here are the basic facts: 

Accessibility to basic goods and services has been limited, COVID infections have surged, and tensions have been high as the economy took a hit from covid. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, “the Cuban economy contracted more than 11% last year” due to a drop in tourism and remittances from Cubans living abroad. The Cuban economy couldn’t withstand this loss of income. 

Moreover, Cubans have been waiting in line for hours for food items or to ride the bus. And, like Iran, electricity outages have become widespread. It may not be obvious, but climate change has undeniably contributed to this scarcity of resources.

As individuals in Cuba, Iran, and other countries struggle and fight for their ways of life, we can see how a fight for economic justice is also a fight for climate justice. 

How are climate change and poverty connected?

All over the world, we are seeing the effects of climate change. Sea levels are rising, weather patterns are shifting, cities are losing power, and bouts of extreme weather are jeopardizing lives. It’s clear that we need to find solutions fast. Climate justice is spurring a lot of current protests, but what does this have to do with low-income communities? 

Climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and developing countries. These groups tend to experience increased exposure and vulnerability to the effects of climate change. 

For example, Mercy Corps reports that extreme weather events such as droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes tend to hit these vulnerable communities the hardest. Their food sources and way of living become compromised, exacerbating issues of hunger and poverty across the world.

Moreover, Joe McCarthy writes in Global Citizen:

“As global temperatures and sea levels rise, as the oceans acidify and precipitation patterns get rearranged, people living in poverty are the most severely impacted. Since climate change affects everything from where a person can live to their access to health care, millions of people could be plunged further into poverty as environmental conditions worsen.”

Joe McCarthy

In other words, climate change exaggerates economic disparities, and vulnerable groups with limited resources only become more vulnerable. These climate conditions disproportionately affect developing countries for similar reasons. 

Christina Chan, director of the World Resource Institute’s Climate Resilience Practice, tells Global Citizen:

“The world’s poorest communities often live on the most fragile land, and they are often politically, socially, and economically marginalized, making them especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

Christina Chan

What can climate justice look like, and how can economic rebellion help solve poverty?

It’s no wonder why tensions are high in countries taking the brunt of climate change, COVID, and poverty. And the U.S. embargo on Cuba certainly hasn’t helped. The inhabitants of these countries deserve our support, not economic strangling that hurts lives.

You can read more about how to help the people in Cuba right now on Travel and Leisure here.

Another small way to help communities vulnerable to climate change and economic ruin is to prioritize eco-friendly habits. Find out more about how to go green here.

These may be small steps to take toward a just and healthy world, but every step counts. When economic rebellion is a necessity, climate justice may be served. We just have to keep educating ourselves and working to ensure a more just future.

Reparations for who? Caribbean countries are in an uncertain place

Last week, Jamaica announced its plans to demand reparations from the Queen for Britain’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade. Financial reparations are clearly long overdue, as they are for many other Caribbean countries such as Haiti. The current events in Jamaica are reminding us of the many people in the Caribbean who still deserve redress.

In 1838, Britain transported over 3 million African people across oceans for the purpose of slave labor. The British profited from this slave labor from 1655-1855. An apology cannot erase this wicked, racist, history between a country, its people, and their (former) colonizers.

And neither can payment. Nothing can undo the years of psychological suffering, racism, economic trauma, etc. that colonizers have caused. But countries like Britain and France should provide the reparations asked of them. It’s an important step toward healing the country and victims of crimes against humanity (CAH). 

This is why organizations such as the CARICOM Reparations Commission—a collection of 15 member states and Caribbean government heads—are working to collect reparations from Caribbean colonizers. Trauma transcends generations, so it is about time the abusers are held accountable for their actions.

Jamaica seeks financial reparations from Great Britain 

Jamaica is asking that the UK pay the country $13.5 billion. This is not an outrageous request considering how the history of slavery and colonialism is still present in Jamaica today, which can be seen in patterns of economic disparity, poverty, and the fact that Jamaica is still ruled by the Queen. 

Jamaica remaining under the Queen’s rule means they cannot simply sue their head of state for compensation. If Jamaica was disconnected from the British Commonwealth, it would be a different story. 

Colonial history is even affecting the way Caribbean countries can ask for reparations centuries later. Meanwhile, their colonizers still financially and psychologically benefit from slavery.

Jamaica deserves not only the money itself but also the respectful, humble acknowledgment from Britain that they have caused centuries of pain. Paying financial reparations is a small but necessary step toward reconciliation and healing. 

Instead of paying reparations, Britain has compensated slave owners

One might argue that these financial burdens should be forgiven considering how the horrors of slavery “ended” almost 200 years ago. But it wasn’t that long ago, and those traumatic events are clearly still manifesting in Caribbean countries.

Evidence of colonialism can be seen in some of their struggling economies, their education systems, and even in the languages they speak. 

Moreover, Britain has been completing payments on interests from a $27 million loan the government acquired back in 1834 to compensate slave owners once it was abolished.

This adds up to about $35 million of British taxpayer dollars going to slave owners, which would be $24.5 billion in today’s economy according to the University College London. However, Jamaica is only asking for $13.5 billion in reparations. 

Therefore, Jamaica’s request seems perfectly reasonable, especially considering how Britain has been making loan payments as recently as 2015.

So, Britain was, in essence, paying slave owners just 6 years ago. If Britain is willing to acknowledge these debts attached to slave owners in the 21st century, they should be more than willing to correct their debts to the people they enslaved. 

It is twisted to think about how Jamaica, with its connection to Britain, has been forced to participate in the payments on these loans by proxy. However distant that participation was, Britain making these payments reintroduces the all-too-familiar concept of a Caribbean country having to pay its colonizers. We’ve seen this phenomenon in Haiti as well. 

Haitians have been forced to pay billions for independence

After winning independence from France in 1825, Haiti was forced to pay France $150 million France (the equivalent of $21 billion dollars today). This was the only way France would agree to recognize Haiti’s independence, and for Haiti, to refuse would mean war. 

The money was purposed as reparations for French slave owners who lost their “property.” It took Haiti 122 years to pay off this debt. That is 122 years of paying for its independence.

Paying to live on land that was theirs to begin with. Their payments were finally complete in 1947, but because of that monstrous financial setback, Haiti is still considered the poorest country in the Caribbean and Latin America. 

Anyone with an understanding of this history also understands that France owes Haiti reparations, $21 billion dollars. In the world we live in, unfortunately money is often essential for autonomy, and Haiti has been denied this by its colonizers. 

CRC helping Caribbean countries recover from traumas 

The CARICOM Reparations Commission has been working to find reparatory justice for victims of CAH since its formation in 2013. This includes genocide, slave trading, slavery, and racial apartheid. The 15 member states include: 

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The CRC’s ten-point action plan emphasizes helping victims in these countries and their descendants. This organization recognizes how reparations must include acknowledgment of and apology for colonial history, as well as how that history pervades today. 

To support the CRC, you can stay informed by reading CARICOM News and joining the movement on Facebook and Twitter.

Historical trauma passed down

Trauma can survive generation after generation. When a group experiences collective suffering, such as those who were colonized and enslaved in the Caribbean, that suffering can mentally and physically be inherited by posterity.

Colonizers such as Britain and France inflicted this long-lasting trauma on Caribbean countries and their people, and financial burdens only exacerbate these preexisting traumas.

France and Britain need to take an important step towards correcting their literal and financial exploitation of Haiti and Jamaica by paying them the reparations they ask for. 

Why Pep Williams is the photographer we all aspire to become

Meet Pep Williams, the successful photographer promoting worldwide social change through his work. Capturing timeless architecture, sustainable fashion, our unjust incarceration system, and more, Williams goes after what he wants and pushes boundaries–both within himself and society.

Last week, Williams shared his career story in an interview with Kulture Hub. From the way he speaks about photography, you can tell he truly enjoys his line of work. Below, you can read about his unlikely introduction to photography, his upcoming projects, and his motivations behind them. Williams’ approach to his art form and life itself is truly inspiring.

The beginning of Pep Williams photography

Kulture Hub: To start, could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into photography?

Pep Williams: I was born in Los Angeles. As a kid, I became a pro skater. That was my first [time] getting a taste of the world, meaning traveling because we toured a lot. And then because I was kind of always tall, I did a lot of fittings for my sponsors. So I would do fashion shows. I did tons of fashion shows. 

Then one day, one of the designers I was doing a fashion show for, there was a photographer that double-booked, so he chose to go with the other designer. So the designer I was with doing the show for was freaking out saying, “We need a photographer. What am I going to do?” this and that.

Well, I found how much it paid, so I said, “Well, I’m a photographer” and they’re all, “What?” and I said “Yeah, I’m a photographer,” and it paid $6000. And they said, “Well we need to see your portfolio,” and I said, “We don’t have time for that. We have to get this done right now.” 

They gave me the check, and then I went… I pressed the button, and I was hooked. 

KH: What has been the best part about your career so far? 

pep williams
“Life’s Walk.” Taken in London. (Cred: Pep Williams)

PW: I think the best part about it is, because I’ve been doing it for so long, the friends I have around the world are like family. We see each other maybe a couple times a year. Sometimes more based on the tours.

Like, I’ve seen my friends’ kids basically have kids. I’ve been touring for practically thirty years. More than that. Actually, over thirty years. So, that’s probably the best part of photography for me.

Favorite projects

“Offset.” Custom crystal accessories by Laurel DeWitt. (Cred: Pep Williams)

KH: Do you have any favorite projects that you’ve worked on? 

PW: I shoot for a lot of record labels and artists, and things like that, but my favorite projects are usually the ones I create and I come up with. Like a series, like the prison, going into the prison and shooting there. I have a new one coming up. I’m supposed to be going to Sierra Leone in about a week and I’ll be out there shooting the natives. It’ll be amazing.

behind bars series
“Inmates getting ready to pray” from the “Behind Bars” series at The Autry Museum in Los Angeles (Cred: Pep Williams)

Anything that I’m really into, I shoot. That’s why now I basically shoot for my friends. It just so happens that my friends own tons of brands or whatever, but its very rare that I’ll shoot for a brand new company.

It’s that whole… trying to get into the rhythm and everything. It’s why I shoot a lot for Adidas. They’re like family over there in Germany and up in Portland because we’re all friends. It’s super cool and it’s a whole lot easier; it’s less stress.

Sustainable fashion

KH: I’ve read you’ve been working with Adidas for years now. Do you have any other specific projects surrounding sustainable fashion?

PW: A friend of mine came in from Japan, and he does extremely high-end leathers. Like horse leather that’s insanely expensive. Just crazy stuff. And he’s a good friend, we’ve done stuff before in the past… it turned out really really good. It’s a brand called Nine Lives. They’re out of Japan.

pep williams
“Austin Wilson for Nine Lives Brand” (Cred: Pep Williams)

The detail is insane. If he’ll make a jacket with a certain look, he can only make six a year because they’re all handmade. It’s just really cool to see the detail.

Most people they’ll use for the pockets a machine to cut the pattern. These guys will use a razor blade by hand to cut it. It is like an art that is basically lost. Everything now is mass-produced. 

The enthralling nature of photography

KH: What do you think makes photography a particularly effective medium for conveying a message as compared to other art forms?

PW: I think because like in a painting, of course, you can get feeling. But with an image, it’s actually that and you can truly relate to it because it’s a person. If it’s like me, I like shooting things and I tend not to put names.

Sometimes in my work, in certain series, I don’t show faces because I like people to think this could be you, it could be your mother, your father, your uncle. So, with my work, I like people to think.

And I talk at schools and colleges all over and I want my work to educate like 100 years from now, 200 years from now. That’s my goal with this whole thing I’m doing.

pep williams
“Woman on Steps” from the “I Am Here” series. (Cred: Pep Williams)

I have a series coming out called “I Am Here.” it’s basically about the homeless. And not just the homeless here in America, but around the world. And because I go to all these different places, I get to shoot it.

People don’t think about homeless people in Oslo or homeless people in Denmark or out in Indonesia. So I’m bringing all that to show it’s truly a global problem… I just try to let my work open up eyes and do things like that.

Pep Williams’ inspirations and advice

KH: Are there any photographers whose work you particularly respect or look up to?

PW: If I had to choose one, it’d have to be Cameron. 100 percent Julia Margaret Cameron. She’s a photographer from the 1800s…  I like the image to kind of give you feeling. And with her work, to me she’s a photographer.

Everybody else, they just go buy cameras and they take pictures. Back in the 1800s you just had a box and a hole in it. You had to know exactly what you were going to get, and not even see until a few days later because you have to develop it…to have that vision, to see it before you shoot it, that’s how I shoot. 

pep williams
“Yunaisy and Karina in Cuba” (Cred: Pep Williams)

KH: Is there any advice you would give to a young creative trying to make it in their industry?

PW: Basically, don’t stop. And the reason we tend to stop is because the people that we think are on our team—be it friends or family—aren’t supportive of what we’re doing.

And there have been so many people who just could’ve been something great or wonderful in their art, but they just didn’t have that encouragement, or that person pushing it… some people don’t need it but the mass majority do. So just don’t stop whatever you’re doing. 

Art is inspiration

Kulture Hub thanks Williams for sharing his story and insights with us. You can view more of his work on his website.

Whether or not you’re interested in photography, art, or even Williams himself, there is something valuable we can all take from his work. He is inspiring us to push through difficult times, dedicate our creativity toward helping others, and to never stop.

Visual artists helping us cope with all the craziness in the world

With everything going on right now—buildings collapsing, wildfires, new COVID variants, the Olympics coming up, looming antagonistic figures such as Trump, tropical storms, etc.—we’re basically living through the tropes of literary fiction and film. Visual artists all across the world are using their skills to help themselves, and us, cope with our newfound realities.

There is a sense of irony in one tragedy happening after the other, and it’s exhausting. Sometimes, it feels like we’re in one of those movies where you think things can’t get any worse… and then it starts to rain. It’s a bit of a cliche among writers and producers. 

Society seems to be reflecting art right now rather than the other way around. But visual artists are using these tragedies almost as their own creative playground to shed some optimism on the world. We all need to find a source of hope with everything going on. You can look to these visual artists to help you find some peace in our current reality.

Gianni Lee

Gianni Lee utilizes many artistic mediums to comment on social and civil rights issues. He is a DJ, producer, fashion designer, and painter. He tells Skullcandy“Breaking boundaries is art.” And with his mastery of so many different creative facets to promote equality, he does indeed break boundaries.

In honor and celebration of Juneteenth 2021, Lee released a collection of animated digital paintings. In this piece on his Instagram, the viewer can see the arm of an incarcerated person detached from a body.

The arm is trapped in handcuffs and a wristband with “LA County Jail” printed on it. Dozens of eyes watch this arm as it moves. The animated digital painting is up for interpretation, but displays a powerful image, no doubt. One can appreciate both its artistic beauty and solemnity. 

Evan Schechtman and Warren Adcock

If you haven’t seen Citrovia—the lemon tree garden art installation at a construction shed in Midtown Manhattan—you should definitely take a look. Schechtman and Adcock are the brains behind this project.

Citrovia is Wonka-esque with its landscape of giant fake lemon trees, lemon flowers, lemon bushes, and huge lemon slices littering the ground like stepping stones. The instillation even includes a citrus scent the further liven this construction-site-turned-art.

Schechtman and Adcock are reminding us that art can be found anywhere—even in the uglier, gloomier aspects of our lives. 

Pep Williams

Williams’ success story is truly amazing. Starting out young as a pro skater, he was introduced by his sponsors to shoots and fashion shows.

He soon found that he had a natural talent for photography and has been creating art around the world ever since. On top of shooting for major celebrities and companies such as Adidas, Williams works on his own projects. Some of which have already ended up in museums, such as “Behind Bars.”

Williams has a current project in the works, “I Am Here,” on exposing homelessness as a worldwide issue that is often ignored. Homeless people have been left particularly vulnerable to the dangers we have been exposed to over the last year.

Williams’ art can act as a call to action for us to work toward ending homelessness. He tells KultureHub in an interview, “I just try to let my work open up eyes.”  

Shepard Fairey

Like Pep Williams, started out in skateboarding. He is now a street artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and activist. He is well-known for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster, which served as an icon for Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Fairey has recently collaborated with Amplifier, the nonprofit that focuses on “art and media experiments” to support social movements and change.

You can watch this animated graphic to hear about Amplifiers campaign that emphasizes empathy, love, and recognizing the humanity in others as essential for human progress.

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya 

Phingbodhipakkiya studied neuroscience at Columbia University before dedicating to her career as an artist. Through her work, she explores both science and feminist issues.

One of her more recent projects is titled “I Still Believe in Our City.” This public art campaign is dedicated to addressing the rise in AAPI hate since the beginning of COVID as well as celebrating the contributions of Asian Americans to New York City. Phingbodhipakkiya’s simultaneous optimism and awareness are inspiring. 

Visual artists can heal the world

People, and the Earth itself, has undergone countless traumas this past year. As we work toward healing, we can look to artists like these in our world who are shedding light on important issues. They encourage us to find and spread beauty amongst tragedy. 

These visual artists acknowledge our realities, but they do not accept that these realities are set in stone. Art can rebel, art can be a call to action, art can wake people up. And art can heal, and so we thank these talented visual artists for their efforts in searching for a better world for all of us.

8 ways to go green during your hot person summer

After a tough year, we’ve finally made it to hot girl summer. While you’re out, as Megan Thee Stallion puts it, “having a good-ass time, hyping up your friends, doing you,” you can channel some of that bad bitch energy toward going green. Here are 8 breezy ways to go green and support our environment without sacrificing your hot person summer. 

Drink out of a reusable water bottle

This one’s easy enough if you have access to a good water bottle. Disposable plastic water bottles exacerbate air pollution during manufacturing and are not very biodegradable. Plastic waste tends to end up polluting our oceans.

Reduce your carbon footprint by investing in a sturdy water bottle that you can use day after day, week after week. It’s a hot person summer, so if you’re always on the go, carry it around with you to stay hydrated while still going green.

It’s much better for the environment, and chances are that a reusable bottle will be much more efficient at keeping your beverages cold this summer.


Hopefully, you don’t have to be reminded of this one, but recycling is one of the easiest things you can do to help the earth.

Recycling glass and certain plastics reduces air pollution, protects ocean life, conserves landfill space, and more. If you’re unsure about what you can and can’t recycle, look into your city’s policies. 

It is the bare minimum we can all do to go green and support our environment.


Give landfills a break by composting your food waste.

Instead of tossing your coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable stems, and fruit peels in the trash, compost them! Not only will it be great for your garden, but your compost will help reduce water runoff and pollution by holding a high volume of water. Read more about how to compost at home here

Conserve water

Saving water leads to less runoff and wastewater entering our oceans. There are countless ways to save water. Here are a few that require minimal effort:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Don’t let your faucet run when washing dishes, brushing your teeth, etc.
  • Collect rainwater for your plants
  • Use soap instead of shower gel 
  • Utilize your pasta water when cooking

Eat locally

By eating the food produced near you, you reduce the amount of miles (and fuel) it takes to get to you. Reducing fuel consumption help keep our air clean.

Additionally, by supporting local farmers, you’re protecting local land from developers. Make a thing of it and take weekend trips to your farmers market for fresh ingredients. Drag your loved ones along and mosey around with a coffee, looking at homemade jewelry and picking out baked goods. 

Walk, bike, and carpool

Reducing vehicle pollution helps keep our air and oceans clean.

If you walk or bike to your destination, you’ll be able to exercise while going green. Now, sometimes, it can be too hot for my taste to walk or bike places, but just do your best! Sun and exercise are rarely bad things. Carpooling is another great option.

Use cloth napkins and paper towels

When you think about the amount of waste this will save, it’s a no-brainer.

If you stick with it, buying reusable napkins and paper towels will save you money in the long run. You can easily find these products on Amazon, but I’d suggest looking at antique malls for vintage napkins or cloths.

It’ll be cheaper, a fun shopping trip, and these vintage items won’t contribute to air pollution from manufacturing. Two birds, one stone.

Opt for eco-friendly beauty

If you’re a wearer of makeup or a user of beauty products, try to be an eco-conscious consumer next time you shop. Some cosmetics are made from marine materials, which is unsustainable.

Reduce waste and go for more ethical brands such as EcoRoots, Dirty Hippie Cosmetics, Ethique, and Fat & the Moon. There are plenty of ethical brands out there, so you’re sure to find one that works for you. You don’t have to sacrifice quality to go green this summer. 

Go green and have your hot person summer

There are so many sustainable practices that we can all participate in not only this summer, but throughout the year.

The human race has inflicted so much damage on the environment, and now that we know more about the consequences of our actions, it is our responsibility to undo that damage. Do your part while living your best life!

Go green and support the environment while still enjoying your hot person summer. You deserve it. 

Really though, do the Olympics deserve Black women?

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo are coming up, and people are talking about the anxieties and excitement associated with the Games. Many view the Olympics, which were postponed last summer due to COVID, as a symbol of a return to normalcy. But in some ways, this is a bad thing, both for the false declaration, and for the way the Olympics treats its Black women athletes.

Many are anxious that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will become a super-spreader COVID event. This wouldn’t be surprising considering how many athletes, trainers, and spectators were supposed to attend. And, Tokyo just declared a state of emergency due to a spike in COVID cases.

We need to talk about the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and its relation to the pandemic, yes. But there are other widespread issues that we need to address. People are not talking enough about the way Black women have been mistreated in sports, specifically in the Olympics. 

The hypocrisy of white spectators

Many misunderstand how systemic racism presents in sports.

Some think that since we celebrate famous Black women athletes such as Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Gabby Douglass, Laila Ali, Simone Manuel, and so on, surely racism does not still exist in sports.

But one of the problems is that we tend to only celebrate these Black women when they win despite the obstacles that society sets before them. And not even always then. 

White society uses Black athletes as a source for entertainment, which is exacerbated for Black women, as society objectifies women in more ways than men. At the Olympics, society appropriates the victories of Black women for a source of patriotic pride. Yet, our country continues to treat them as lesser-than.

Recent criticism toward the Olympics’ lack of inclusivity has further exposed long-existing hypocrisy among white spectators.

Olympic organizers exposed for exclusivity

Critics are reiterating how Olympic organizers do not support Black competitors, particularly Black women.

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) refused to approve the Soul Cap for international competition. Soul Cap is a brand of swimming caps designed for “thick, curly, and voluminous hair,” as quoted on CNN.

In other words, Soul Caps can accommodate for the natural hair of many Black people and Black women. However, FINA rejected the inclusive Soul Cap designs.

Soul Cap said to BBC reporters that FINA banned the caps because they do not “follow the natural form of the head.” After receiving backlash, FINA decided to review their previous decision, but the damage has been done.

The Olympics have unwelcomed Black athletes and implied that natural Black hair is somehow unnatural and an inconvenience to other athletes.

The Olympics continues to deem some Black bodies unnatural by refusing to let Christina Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi compete.

These 18-year-old Black women sprinters from Namibia are not allowed to compete for having naturally high levels of testosterone. According to CNN, naturally high levels of testosterone has hindered many other Black women from competing in the Olympics. 

Olympic organizers are attempting to define femaleness and womanhood. Who gave them that right? They’re extending their responsibilities to further oppress Black women.

Why are we putting so much pressure on Black woman athletes?

White people have a history of exploiting Black athletes in the US.

Joseph Cooper writes in The Boston Globe that “whites who control mainstream sports have long exploited Black athletes—economically, psychologically, politically, and for entertainment.”

And, for “Black males, athletic performance [is] valued more than their educational development.” White society attempts to manipulate and dehumanize the Black athletic body into a source of entertainment. But what about Black women athletes?

Considering the intersectional identities of Black women, their experiences may be similar to those of Black male athletes, yet very distinct.

Claudia Rankine writes in The New York Times that on top of experiencing exploitation for entertainment, Black women athletes are often criticized in ways that “perpetuate racist notions that Black women are hypermasculine and unattractive.”

These notions are apparent in how the “unnatural” Soul Caps were banned and how some Black women are excluded from competition for natural levels of testosterone.

The Olympics don’t deserve Black women

We tend to celebrate the bodies and victories of Black women only when they are convenient for us.

This pandemic of racism in the Olympics and all sports requires our attention and understanding just as much as COVID does. We need to stop this paradoxical, hypocritical spectatorship. Clearly, the Olympics do not deserve the prowess, grace, and passion of Black women athletes.