Phillip Hudson Phillip Hudson

The Mean Girls of Morehouse

 

WITHIN THE OPENLY GAY COMMUNITY AT ATLANTA’S MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, THERE’S A SUBGROUP: GENDER BENDERS WHO ROCK MAKEUP, MARC JACOBS TOTE BAGS, SKY-HIGH HEELS AND BEYONCÉ- STYLE HAIR WEAVES. CAN A MAN OF MOREHOUSE BE GAY? ABSOLUTELY. BUT CAN HE BE A WOMAN? MEET THE PLASTICS.

Diamond Martin Poulin, 20, teetering in strappy sandals with three-inch heels, steps into an eclectic clothing boutique in Little Five Points, a quaint cluster of shops and restaurants two and a half miles outside of downtown Atlanta. “Ooooh,” squeals Diamond. “What about this?” Holding up a white floor-skimming skirt with an eyelet hem, he swoons. The proprietor of the store looks up at Diamond, does a double take, and immediately picks up the cordless phone at the register. “There’s a man in here with heels on!” she whispers loudly into the phone. Diamond raises his eyebrows and continues browsing the racks. He shrugs when asked if the comment bothers him. “Isn’t it true?” he says, chuckling. “There is a man in here with heels on.”

Nibbling on sushi later that day, Diamond explains why he left after one year at Morehouse. A bastion for producing leaders in politics, community service and medicine, Morehouse College has long been viewed as the ultimate HBCU for young Black men, who are conferred with the mystique of being “Men of Morehouse.” Established in 1867 in Augusta, Georgia, as the Augusta Institute, the school counts such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.; financier Reginald E. Davis; School Daze writer/director Spike Lee; the late Keith “Guru” Elam of Gang Starr; and the late Def Jam exec Shakir Stewart among its graduates.

"Diamond"That pedigree is what brought Diamond (pictured left) to Morehouse, but he says the school’s social conservatism drove him out. In October of last year, the Morehouse College administration announced a new “appropriate attire policy.” The dress code stated that students, referred to as “Renaissance Men,” were not allowed to wear caps, do-rags, sunglasses or sagging pants on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events. But what raised most eyebrows was the rule about women’s clothing: no wearing of dresses, tops, tunics, purses or pumps.

The new dress code resulted in a flurry of media coverage, prompting Dr. William Bynum, Jr., vice president for Student Services, to release a statement to several news outlets: “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” During a recent visit to the campus, the poet Saul Williams wore a skirt in solidarity.

“Morehouse wasn’t ready for me,” says Diamond, who has the word “unbreakable” tattooed on his collarbone and the acronym C.R.E.A.M (“Cash Rules Everything Around Me” coined by rap group Wu Tang Clan) wrapped around his right wrist. “I’m about freedom of expression. I’m about being whomever you truly are inside. I came to Morehouse because of all the historical leaders that attended and impacted the world so heavily. You know, I really wanted to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think Morehouse believes that someone like me—someone who wears heels and dresses—can uphold that reputation. But they’re wrong.”

“We respect the identity and choices of all young men at Morehouse,” Dr. Bynum said via email. “However, the Morehouse leadership development model sets a certain standard of how we expect young men to dress, and this attire does not fit within the model. Our proper attire policy expresses that standard.”

Diamond now attends American InterContinental University, majoring in fashion marketing and design. “I want to, like, teach at Parsons. Or you know, maybe even in London—who knows?”

Although it has never been officially confirmed, it’s not too far off the mark to believe that those “five students” at whom the appropriate attire policy was directed included Diamond and his crew, the Plastics. The group is loosely made up of seven or eight former and current Morehouse students, some of whom share a modest townhouse in Atlanta. Their name is a nod to the A-list crowd depicted in the 2004 movie Mean Girls.

READ THE USHER COVER STORY HERE!

The Plastics all assume that the recent appropriate attire policy was aimed directly at their personal freedom of expression, which sometimes includes foundation, cross-dressing, and even taking female hormones.

“I’ve always been into clothes, shoes, hair and everything,” says Diamond, who was born and raised in Providence, R.I. He says there’s a good chance he’ll transition into a woman at some point. “My mother says I always played dress-up in her clothes, my grandmother’s clothes. I’d even get my brother to do it sometimes. That’s just always been me—pushing the envelope of what I’m supposed to be as a man.”

So does Diamond really consider herself a man? At the question, he groans. “Yes, I refer to myself as a man, you know, to relieve any confusion. Sometimes people don’t understand the whole androgyny thing. There’s always the question: Well, what are you? Yes, I’m a man. I like women’s clothes. And yeah, I’m gay. But I don’t want that to define me. How come people can’t just see me as a person?”

But some of the other men of Morehouse definitely don’t see Diamond that way. Early in his first—and last—year, Diamond had a run-in that signaled the beginning of the end of his time at the esteemed institution.

 

 

Social Circle: Your Responses to "THE MEAN GIRLS OF MOREHOUSE" 

Blogger's Circle: The Plastics V. Morehouse

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Frankie Beverly Shares His Thoughts On Beyonce's Rendition Of "Before I Let Go"

In 1981, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly released a hit that's cemented its presence from cassette tapes to streaming services for your summertime cookout playlist. "Before I Let Go" found a home at the thirteenth spot on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart during its release, but now its melodies are being housed under a new rendition.

In mid-April, Beyonce gifted fans with her take on the aforementioned single, which debuted to fanfare with the release of her Netflix Homecoming documentary. The program displayed a behind-the-scenes look at the production of her 2018 Coachella performance.

In an interview with Billboard, Beverly said the "All Night" singer's team connected with him "a week or two age" to notify him of the remix. "When they played it, that's when I heard the first draft of it, and I was blown away. It's a blessing," he said. "It's amazing how she works, she's very smart. I'm caught off guard, but in a beautiful way...Then the way she just released it, it's off the chain. She's done so much, this is one of the high points of my life."

On the premise of the original song, Beverly said he reached a crossroads in a past relationship. "It was just up and down, and by the end of it, I wrote a song because I was feeling I needed to get out of it," he shared. "I was so into the girl, but it just wasn't working out. I was thinking, 'What am I gonna do?' and that thought inspired the song. I was going to try to do all of these things 'before I let go.' It was a situation I had to get out of, but I was in love."

The legendary artist also revealed that he never imagined "Before I Let Go" would persevere in this capacity. "It really changed everything for me," he said. "It was a huge song at the time, and it's one of those things this band will be able to carry on forever."

Beyonce's rendition also sparked a #BeforeILetGo challenge which she promoted via her Instagram Story.

finally ! Beyoncé used IG stories for the first time since the first time (once) last year! And this time she used it to share fan videos of the #BeforeILetGoChallenge ! Y’all better go make some videos while she’s blessing y’all on her page! and play the lotto if your featured pic.twitter.com/OdYF4txj4A

— 🇵🇸 FADIA KADER (@FADIA) April 23, 2019

Nobody:

Absolutely Nobody:

My arse: #BeforeILetGoChallenge take 22! Action! pic.twitter.com/kaOXf0QzOv

— SyllabusMag (@SyllabusMag) April 23, 2019

#Get it in, Granma!! This is some inter-generational love. 🖤#BeforeILetGoChallenege pic.twitter.com/CdeEfJXG3i

— AliyatLecky (@aliyatlecky) April 25, 2019

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13-Year-Old Texas Girl Dies After Being Jumped By Three Teens

A 13-year-old Texas girl was placed on life support after being jumped by three teenage girls last week, and the New York Daily News confirms the teen died.

Kashala Francis was walking home from Attucks Middle School Thursday (April 18) when she was jumped by two girls and kicked in the head by another. Cellphone recording of the incident shows the attackers laughing.

The girl's mother Mamie Jackson told reporters that Kashala came home with a bruise on her face, told her what happened but insisted she was fine. However, things quickly got worse.

On the following Saturday, Jackson says Kashala went to a family member's house and was told she became delusional but was able to gather her bearings. On Sunday (April 21), Kashala called her mother and complained she felt weak and had a painful headache before lying down.

Jackson said soon after she called the ambulance because Kashala was unconscious. While at Texas Children's Hospital, it was discovered she had a tumor in the back of her head and had fluid buildup in her brain.

On Wednesday morning (April 24) Kashala died. Pending an autopsy, it's unclear if the young girl had the tumor prior to the fight, or if being kicked in the head caused the tumor, which resulted in her death.

Until the autopsy can make the distinction, the case is being investigated as a homicide.

In an emailed sent to The Daily News, the school district stated it's offering students access to grief counselors.

"[The district] is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our students. We extend our sincere condolences to the student’s family, friends, teachers, and classmates."

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Blac Chyna Will Be Taking Harvard University Business Courses

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Per TMZ, Chyna has been admitted to online business courses at Harvard University. Her acceptance letter was sent to her on Monday (April 22), and she will be enrolled in a program called "Business Analytics."

Per Harvard's website, the course's curriculum "explores current topics in business analytics, such as quantitative methods, business and financial statistics, emerging ideas and technologies, big data, and data visualization." She will also reportedly "develop and test hypotheses, craft sound survey questions and draw conclusions from population samples."

"Where I'm at now is a stage of realization and growth!" Chyna told the gossip site about her new chapter. "I want to be great for myself and my kids. School is going to help me take things up a couple of notches. People are always talking about me, might as well talk about the good. I'm excited for the next chapter."

Earlier this week, Chyna wrote a lengthy statement on Instagram regarding change and growth.

"Blac Chyna doesn’t define Angela White as a person,” she wrote. “At 30, I am overwhelmed with the blessings I have. Being A mother of two amazing children. I don’t talk on things often, but I promise to give you guys more of me. Angela White perspective.”

Congrats to Ms. White on her exciting and challenging new chapter.

 

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Growth is painful. Change is painful. But, nothing is as painful as being where you do not belong! #newbeginnings

A post shared by Blac Chyna (@blacchyna) on Apr 22, 2019 at 2:23pm PDT

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