Beyond Black History Month: The constant celebration at USC

Black creatives studying at USC produce art, writing, photography and music year-round.

Photo credit: Heran Mamo/Neon




February is the time for blackness but certainly not the only time. These 28 days in 2019 featured events like Rihanna celebrating another year of her life, New York City instituting a ban against shaming black women’s hair and Ruth Carter “becoming the first African American woman to receive the best costume design Academy Award,” according to Deadline.

Neon chooses to honor black history despite February being over because black excellence is a daily occurrence. Black creatives constantly hustle harder than those who are recognized beyond the shortest month in the year. Even Leap Year doesn’t give us the kind of hops we’re capable of. So I, as a magazine editor, choose not to remain limited by time to publish their work.

Click through the music, photo essays and poems produced by black USC students and graduates. Remember them beyond Black History Month. Celebrate and support them daily.





Listen to:

UMI ’21 (@whoisumi)

NYALLAH ’19 (@n.yallah)

Bran Movay ’20 (@branmovay)


Tsega Beloved ’19 (@tsegabeloved)

Ify Anene ’18 (@ify_anene)

Half Moon Bay ’20 (@black.freckles)

Amir Kelly ’20 (@amirkelly)

Jensen McRae ’19 (@jensenmcrae)


Scroll through:

Negus photo essay by Boma Iluma ’18 (@bomailuma)

Shot by Lauren Kim (@l.aure.nalex)

Models: Stanley Kalu ’19, Gbenga Komolafe ’20

Scroll through:

The Performance of Family photo essay by Tsega Beloved ’19 (@tsegabeloved)

In this series we look at six Dysfunctional Family Roles: The Clown, The Manipulator, The Caretaker, The Scapegoat, The Hero, and The Lost Child.

Tsega Beloved intended for this study of family roles, or The Performance of Family, to dually serve as an abstract self-portrait, as she find parts of her identity represented by each role.

Creative Direction by Tsega Beloved 

Shot/Edited by Isuan Oyakhire (@isuan.ayo)

Styling/Co-direction by Krystal Samuels (@kaysymone)

We introduce THE CLOWN. This role is played by the family member that copes through humor and comforts their family in doing so. Knowingly or unknowingly, they ease tension and distract from ever-present problems or dysfunction.

We introduce THE MANIPULATOR. This role is played by the family member that recognizes the family dynamic, strengths, triggers, and weaknesses, and exercises this knowledge to their advantage to control or influence family members.

We introduce THE CARETAKER. This role is played by the family member forced to grow up quickly, care for their siblings in place of the parents, and take on responsibility for the actions of other family members.

We introduce THE SCAPEGOAT. This role is played by the family member often blamed for things that aren’t their fault or in their control. Aware of this, they typically rebel from the family and leave as soon as they can.

We introduce THE HERO. This role is played by the family member that protects and projects the good image of the family to the outside world, to the point of pretending things are fine for the sake of the family.

We introduce THE LOST CHILD. This role is played by the family member that typically goes unnoticed and avoids making waves in the family; if it means being left to themselves, they prefer to be forgotten.

Read through:

On the Hatred of Light-skinned Women, Inspired by Bri Taylor by Anwar Stetson ’19 (@anwar_is_on_par)



I didn’t ask for this skin

like you didn’t ask for yours

My lighter skin made me a blacker sheep

but it’s more than skin deep—

beneath my light eyes could be a dark past,

behind the brown thighs is a white lie

of who you think I am, while I ask “who am I?”

I knock on the door to be a part of the world where I’m wanted

But trapped in a world where I’m fetishized

Skittish smiles to pale-ish guys

who criticize my sisters….

whose zealously trial my features…

whose ancestors are mine,

but can’t recognize the teachers

that divided our people!

When I look in the mirror I carry the same scars.

I lived through the same ugliness,  

and I needed the same uplifting

when the pressures of being a black woman

made me question myself

when we all could be winning.


Who did I come from?

I was birthed from pain that I can’t explain.

Our society raped us so I could be me,

or raped the land from those who were here first

and left us to reap the identities of a nation that will never acknowledge why we exist.

But I acknowledge us now,

and I hope you do the same,

instead of letting them divide us

and separate our names.

Scroll through:

Black Panther photo essay by Yazzmyn Evonnaé ’18 (@yazzmynevonnae)

Creative Director: India Howard (@theindiahoward)

Shot by Kevin Reeves ’17 (@black.frames) and Michea Bryant ’17 (

Models: Lamar Usher ’16, Yazzmyn Evonnaé ’18, Marcus Burke ’19, Brandon Douglas ’20

I was introduced to the history of the Black Panther Party at an early age. I fell in love with their ideology and legacy because of their bravery and willingness to face the oppressors in order to create change for black communities. If I was alive during that time, best believe I would’ve been a fellow “Panther.” For this special month (even though Black History Month is every month), I wanted to pay homage to the Black Panther Party, because their teachings were very enlightening and significantly affected me, particularly the role of women who served as the foundation for this incomparable organization.

Heran Mamo is the co-editor of Neon and a senior studying journalism with a minor in culture, media and entertainment. She likes writing about pop culture and its convergence with social issues. She has worked as an editorial intern for Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter. In her free time, Heran likes curating Spotify playlists and shopping for sneakers.