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Affinity Magazine

School

Dress Codes: Are They Going Too Far?

The Truth About Police Brutality

n a l a p a m r a h D a c c e Reb September/October 2015


September/October

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06 Dress Code 08 I Care For You

Credit Natasha Hassan-Layouts I want to thank all readers, Affinity has grown so much in the past couple months! I am very happy, and excited for what’s next for Affinity!

10 Rebecca Truth 29 Unknown About Cops 32 hello Fall!

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Photo by Steve White Courtesy of FreeImages.com

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AMOR A LA MEXICANA

By Carlita Guevara

by Carla Guevara

It’s hard to picture a world where immigrants aren’t dehumanized on a daily basis. We are one of the top five “topics” politicians debate on and we are seen as a problem instead of a solution. In the midst of all the GOP debates, the endless humiliation, and the horrific consequences we have as a community there is one important question we all seem to forget. Who are we? Our community and our blood is filled with bravery and talent. We are selfless individuals who get washed up as criminals, yet no one really knows who we are. To celebrate our stories that weave us together, I interviewed four people and asked four different questions. Four Mexican immigrants who left their homeland and came to the United States.

What do you miss most about Mexico? Anon: The people, my family, the parties, and the celebration of life. I also miss the constant loud noises. It is very quiet here. Oh, and the food. I have wild fantasies about my mom’s homemade food.

When you hear the word immigrant what is some other words that immediately come to mind? Anon: Sadness. We are supposed to come here to overcome the challenges in our country but we end up facing ten times more. I’ve never faced hatred straight in the eye like when I first told employers that I was an immigrant from Mexico. I left my roots just to be degraded in a country I fantasized to love.

11 million immigrants in this country, a huge community. Are you proud of the immigrant culture and your roots? Anon: Yes, it is a beautiful culture and it is sad that most of it is forgotten because of embarrassment our children face.

“We are supposed to come here to overcome the challenges in our country but we end What do you want to share with other immigrants? Anon: Do not give up. It is the hardest thing I have ever done but I did it for my children. When I look into my kid’s eyes…all I see is the future I could never give them in Mexico. Work ten jobs a week and come home to see your educated children. It’s all part of the experience and I have never been more proud of being Mexican. It is a hard time for us but we can overcome anything as a whole. Just don’t give up. You aren’t alone. You do not have to face this hatred on your own.

The interview remains anonymous to respect and protect these people that were willing to give a small piece of their story. We are all united by one thing: that is selflessness. We do these things to give a better future to our children but in doing so we agree to being publicly identified as “greedy thieves”. We must come together and celebrate our bravery. We as the next generation must honor and glorify our parents and family who gave up so much for us.

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“Moving from Mexico to a classic Texan suburb was possibly the biggest cultural shock I could receive at the age of 11. I went from being surrounded by rich traditions, genuine people, and my whole entire extended family to being alone in a world full of pretty tall blondes who did everything and anything to make you feel like an outsider. Many people might think that the portrayal of the rich, snobby, white southern families one sees on the TV is an over exaggeration, however I am here to disprove that thought, because if anything the people here are as cold and fake as your worst nightmare. Arriving smack in the middle of 6th grade, I had no friends, and I constructed a safety blanket around the fact that I am somewhat white passing. As the days went by I learned that the girls my age would be more accepting of me if I lied and said I was half-white, and so I did. For the rest of junior high, and a little bit of high school I created a new identity for myself and endured

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hours of painful, racist comments towards my people. When I hit 16, I went back to Mexico City for the holidays and fell in love with my beautiful city. I realized that I had absolutely no reason to feel ashamed of my culture, and if anything, the people who made me feel embarrassed are the ones who should be feeling ashamed, since the “culture” in the US is just one long story of murder and unfair conquests. As an 18 year old, I couldn’t be more proud of the fact that I’m Mexican. I do my best to speak out, and educate the people around me and thus stop the ignorance that circles around my country and I learned to be unapologetically myself.” — A Story by an 18 year old immigrant

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Photo by Cam Laque

By Evelyn Kembe Another class mate then added, “Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. And if that wasn’t true or if the rule providers did a better job of making sure it was fair and equal, that would be one less huge problem having to do with this whole thing” (Rebecca Ngwello). “An administer in my chemistry class told all the girls in the class to stand up. He then boldly stated, ‘This [dress code policy] exists because of you!’ Then he [jokingly] said it was our fault that they made it. My reaction towards his entire speech was so much more than I have words to describe. I felt (she says with now watery eyes and apologizes) so uncomfortable. I don’t take to kindly to offensive jokes being made about serious issues. He told us that if we didn’t have the three C’s - curves, cake, and cleavage (at this point she allows tears to run down her face) - we wouldn’t be in this position” (Anonymous).

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First off: to feel sexualized by a school employee is a crime, let alone completely disrespectful and inappropriate. Second, on the list of things I cannot control, one of them is my body type, which goes for everyone. What my God gave me, my God gave me to be proud of. This form of shame is so insulting. When asked why the dress code didn’t effect boys as much as girls, the same administrator replied, “You don’t see boys showing anything wrong or nasty besides their boxers. All we have to say to him is, ‘Pull up your pants, son.’ or ‘Buy a belt, boy.’ You girls are the real problem,” he laughs, “guys just stare at you ladies, so we have to make sure you don’t distract them from learning.” The way we look does not define us. But it is a benediction to look the way we look and we shouldn’t have that confiscated. It isn’t a nonplussed concept. Its right

here in front of everyone. But the only way to deal with women who are sexualized by anyone in school is to suspend them for showing shoulders, rather than teaching the worthiness of women. Instead, the idea of us being equal to objects roam free while we pay to consequences.


Does School Dress Code Policy Draw the Line When it Comes to Opinions of Women? Of all the public school system policies, there is one in particular that constantly draws controversy for students nationwide. Though some school districts are more lenient than others, the system uses the body image of women to contravene us by degrading our looks to “protect” us from being degraded by others. In one North Carolinian school district, the girls took on an incredulous role - which became almost impossible to mollify. They contravened and spoke their minds about the whole subject. This was not meant for altercation, but rather a strong defense for every student. A high school junior told me about a speech an administrator made in her class to aver the constant of the dress code policy. “An administrator had a conversation with my English class.

Well, actually, it was more of just him ordering us [girls] not to wear ‘such and such’, unless we are willing to receive the consequence being out of school suspension” (Savannah Adams). Questions in general such as just, why, lays still on the table. “An incident occurred where a girl, who moved from Arizona, was sexually harassed out of school, in school, and all around it. But I mean, like, ALL around it; it sucked for her, I can’t imagine how she felt. I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t know what to do. I still feel like a horrible friend! But I think I get why they say everything they say about the dress code. This is the authorized way to maintain our protection. Also, needless to say, most people don’t want to see you in cheeky shorts and a croptop that looks like less than a croptop” (Anonymous). A bit harsh of a friend, or does she have a point?

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nstead of making girls hide their shoulders or wear tighter bra straps, boys [of whom the policy is protecting us from] should be taught to focus on education, rather than how far they can see through our leggings.

I’ve grown suspicious to the facts that this dress code targets women of color so much more than it does anyone else. If you see a girl whose white with short-shorts, and a black girl with the same thing on, who do you think will get pulled over by the fashion police first? Looking at the body type of a woman of color, versus a white woman, we are more targeted and looked at as trouble. So according to all authority, we are trouble and what we where gives no reason to prove that ridiculous opinion wrong. What? That is such a mess!”

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I Care For You By Dolama Rey

illustration by Adam J Kurtz

With September on the way, schools, colleges, and universities are opening again for yet another new beginning for each student. With the start of a new year, many face the dread task of having to walk by their peers and do the work that will lie ahead. Despite how many people label the actions as the laziness of the student, the reason for the reluctance to start another year is as simple as it is complex for each individual. Mental disorders are still being labeled and viewed as made up excuses to seek attention, and those who claim to have 10 no CRIMAZINE it have legitimate proof of

it. Dear reader, throw everything you hear that’s negative about you down the river and let’s start fresh. Here are some steps to take as a guide for whenever you’re feeling out of the norm – meaning no disrespect or harm, but trying to put it down easy and carefully for everyone to enjoy while reading. Walking down the corridors can be scary, seeing new faces, seeing many of your fellow colleagues looking a little older, younger, slimmer, thicker, don’t mind any of that my dear reader, remember to always never compare yourself with anyone as to

put yourself down. So you’ve gained a little weight, what’s the harm in that? You’re okay and right here existing aren’t you my dear? Then don’t worry at all, whatever it is you gained can be lost just as much, don’t compare yourself with the skinniest person in class, you are you, and be proud of you and your body. There’s no other body like you, there’s no another person that holds that little dimple where the eyes can’t see, or the small scar of suffering that you survived through, no one else is like you, you’re special, you’re unique and so is your body. Your body is your territory, remember


to never portray someone else’s body as masterpieces when you’re the art, don’t see yourself in a negative way; everyone is born differently my dear. You don’t have to force yourself to meet new people if you aren’t ready, you have a full school year to do it, so take a deep breath and let it out. You’re doing perfectly okay by even being here, for waking up and having enough courage to go to school on the first day. Don’t care about what anyone says to you, you look wonderful. People always judge others, whether it’s by choice or not, it happens and if it does, raise your head up high my dear reader, you’re not who they think you are, and if you find yourself unable to tell them the words you need to say, to bring out the person you truly are, close your eyes, take a breath, you’re alright, and you don’t have to push it out of you. If you can’t find the courage yet to say the words, then put that determination in your actions, show them who you truly are because dear, actions speak louder than words. And although words may hurt like a knife forcing you to hide yourself in the bathroom, with your eyes in tears and your heart in pain know that you are not alone. I’m right there with you and so many people who care about you, words may leave scars but they’ll shape you to become stronger. Words may make you wish to leave but darling you’ve got such a beautiful bright future ahead of you. It’s okay to cry, it’s okay to let it out, bottling it all in will hurt you more, so let it out love, let your heart recover. And if you’re worried about someone finding out that you were crying here’s a little trick I learned it myself. Get some tissue and put cold water on it, dab it on the areas where your face is redder than most, take deep consecutive breaths to help your blood circle in your body, apply your makeup back on and you’re ready and beautiful as you always are. Meeting someone new is scary and exciting, meeting someone who your heart flutters with the sound of their

name feels so good, meeting someone where you would go to the ends of the world and back is magical but stay where you are little button. I know it’s beautiful to be in love, I know it’s incredible to feel such deep emotion with someone, to have them be the reason you wake up and wanting to see the sun again, but I do know the bitterness of heartbreak, I know the pain and the hole that’s left in and can’t ever be filled. That’s why I’m here to tell you, take it slow my love, you are more likely to fall in love than ever out of love that’s why it’s so important you focus on yourself, on your own future. Do not base it around someone else’s, do not make choices you are ok with rather than extremely happy with, and I know they promised forever, I know they promised so much, but I promise you the seed you planted in your studies and helping yourself become the best version you can ever think of will be the best choice you ever made. People can let you down, people can break your heart, people can disappoint you more times than you thought, but you will never disappoint yourself, my dear you are the best thing to ever happen to yourself, so don’t take it lightly, your future is in your hand and you can do it. You always did, you just never noticed it. If you feel lost, don’t you worry, take a little rest and see how much you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t matter what they say, the work you’ve done has taken so much of your energy and be proud of it, I am proud of you, just because it’s simple to them doesn’t mean you’re less than them, you’re weaker than them – No. Never. What you have gone through my dear they can never in a million years imagine it, nor they can survive it the way you did and incase no one ever told you, I am proud of you. I am proud of who you are, I am proud of how much you’ve gone through. Keep it going my dear; we’re all rooting for you. School and work might leave in such a mess that you feel like suffocating, but open your eyes again dear; you

have so much support from people you never thought would be there for you, love doesn’t just come in one way but in so many ways and you are surrounded by love. It’s okay to ask for help sometimes, it’s okay to want to get better, it doesn’t mean your fragile, not at all, it means you’re powerful enough to recognize situations where you can become even stronger, everyone needs a little push sometimes, never be afraid to ask for it. You are okay, you are safe, you are strong, and you are beautiful. The image molded by society of who you should be is gone, you no longer need it, you became yourself and that’s what you should be proud of, that’s what you should aim for, not what people want you to be, but who you want yourself to be. And you are never alone, you’re bounded by people who love you just as much if not even more, it’s not a shame to take some time to fix yourself, it’s not a shame to love someone, it’s not a shame to be who you are. No one can ever shape you to be anything but yourself. That’s why, my dear readers, when you’re back in school and packed with work or studies, I want you to come back on here and read this, to take a break and let your mind clear, you’re doing so good, it doesn’t matter how much you accomplish compared to others, but how much you accomplished to you, and if it’s a little less than what you expected don’t you fret! It’s normal, it’s okay, and you are one beautiful and strong person, so keep at it, keep fighting, keep improving yourself and focusing on yourself – I love you for it, and always will, and I’m so proud of you. Do it with your own steps, and you’re going to be just alright my dear, I promise you that. And if you see anyone struggling, no matter what the reason is, make sure to give out a lending hand, for it might just save their life.

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” l a v i v r u s f o t ac n a s i m s i n i “I think Fem

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Rebecca Dharmapalan

At only 19, Rebecca has become a visionary activist combatting human trafficking in the United States, when she isn’t doing a Ted Talk or a documentary about human trafficking, she’s stressing over exams at the University of California Berkeley.

You recently did Tedxteen, were you nervous? How was the whole experience? Oh my gosh,I was terribly nervous! First of all, TED has such a successful reputation and I definitely felt the pressure to tell, or rather “sell my story”. I remember intensely rehearsing for days before, and I was really struggling to memorize a 13 minute long speech. A couple days before TEDxTeen in New York, I was scheduled to speak at the Ashoka Future Forumn. Ashoka is a foundation that I have always aspired to be a part of. (Some of my favorite activists and social change makers were in attendance.) So, yeah, there was definitely a time crunch involved as

well. Not only was there a fear of blowing it on live stream TV and in front of a huge audience, but there was also a pressure to speak on behalf of Oakland, and truly shed light on the beautiful city that I come from, while also being honest about the its flaws. All in all, it was definitely an incredible experience, and I feel like my first TEDx talk was a successful one. I noticed you have done so much work involving human trafficking, what sparked your interest?

ties and sell her to his friends for cash. I was immediately in shock, but at the time I was ignorant to the severity of human trafficking in Oakland. A year later, I partnered with a friend of mine, Zoe Yi, on directing and producing a short film called “International Boulevard a documentary” which can be found on YouTube. I am glad I made it became one of the first films to expose child sex trafficking in the United States, and got a lot of attention by the right people.

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Do you think we should pay attention to human trafficking in the USA since many don’t know it’s happening here? Everyone should know that human trafficking is a major problem in the USA. I think that it is really easy for us to put this issue far away, and make it foreign. Blaming other countries for these problems allows us to sweep our own issues under the rug. It is time for America to open its eyes to the harsh realities that people face, especially black and brown people, and especially women of color. This doesn’t just apply to human trafficking, this applies to all movements that have sparked in the last few years. What got you into feminism? I think feminism is an action of survival. Like, you either get into feminism or you are oppressed, or rather you feel powerless. I feel like feminism is unique, and you develop your own feminism through personal experiences, understandings, readings, and teachers. I have had some incredible teachers over the years, young and old, who have taught me a lot about myself, as well as navigating the oppressions of America. In middle school, I had the realest teacher, Ms. Malabed, who was literally the realest woman I had met. She was straight up with our class, she never beat around the bush, and she never treated me like a 5th grader, I was always a woman. I had a teacher in High School, Ms.G, who would give

me books and sit down and have long conversations about systematic oppression. Ms. G gave me books like “Medical Apartheid” and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Ms.G changes my perspective on the medical field and research. However, it wasn’t until college when I was given a real taste of intersectional feminism, where I was taught the difference between white liberal feminism and my feminism. The GSI for my first Ethnic Studies class changed my life, Kim, they were able to reform and reshape my mindset on “white supremacist capitalist hetero- patriarchy.” My roommate, Kerby (el feminista) broke life down for me. I was on a path to consciousness and understanding. By the end of my freshman year at UC Berkeley, I was “woke.” What do you like about your culture and how do you feel when others wear bindi’s and such? There are so many aspects that I love about my culture. There is more to being Sri Lankan than just the food, jewelry, and outfits. A long civil war plagued the lives of my people. My family had to flee the country that they loved, and the pain that they experience, to this day, is a deep unhealed wound. When I see people who are not of my culture wearing bindi’s to music festivals, so that they can appear to be “cultured” or “ethnic” or “deeply in touch with their chakras,” its absolutely infuriating. It is infuriating because it has taken

immense courage for me to wear bindi’s on social media, for my TEDx talk, or for any public event. I used to feel that if I wore bindi’s I would be re-appropriating my culture, and that it was cliché. So now, I only wear a black dot (on in this case giant yellow and green dots), to symbolize the pain and struggle of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka who suffered and are still suffering from genocide and a 50 year long ethnic cleansing. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I hope to be commuting between Oakland and South Asia, studying with the great Muhammad Yunus, and revolutionizing micro-economics. Micro-economics is the idea that by giving out small loans ($5) to poor people, especially women, you can change their lives and further develop global infrastructure. An educated woman can feed a village. If we can support women with just a few dollars, we can change the world. I want to own a tea plantation in Sri Lanka, grow tea, and decolonize the industry of tea farms. I want to empower the growers of tea with the ability to own a portion of the company, so that they too can engage in business, and engage in Sri Lankan economy.

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Personal Essays BY Yelita Ali


Personal Es-


A FAQ And Crash Course On The LGBTQIA+ By Evan Kalvesmaki

You definitely have straight acquaintances. You might have a few gay friends, and you may even know someone who’s bisexual. There’s an even smaller chance that you know someone who is transgender. It seems like there’s a lot of ways people can identify themselves today, right? It can get confusing, and even overwhelming. But if you think those few terms are where it ends, you’ve got a big storm coming. Let’s break apart the current LGBT acronym to start off. It goes like this; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. And there’s

even more than what’s shown in the acronym. Now, you already probably have a few questions, so let’s get those straightened out. You definitely have straight acquaintances. You might have a few gay friends, and you may even know someone who’s bisexual. There’s an even smaller chance that you know someone who is transgender. It seems like there’s a lot of ways people can identify themselves today, right? It can get confusing, and even overwhelming. ut if you think those few terms are where it ends, you’ve got a big storm coming.

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Q: That seems like more than LGBT. There were, like, three more letters. Indeed there were. Typically, we don’t see the end of the acronym, but it’s been lengthened to LGBTQIA+ since it’s origins. However, in regular conversation, it’s still acceptable to use LGBT. Because, let’s be honest, that’s a mouthful.

Okay, now that that’s crystal clear, we can begin to divulge in some of the topics of the acronym and beyond. From now on, let’s break apart the acronym to see just what’s happening inside of it. Gay and Lesbian have been excluded, because it’s not a mystery as to what those are.

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isexual Those who feel sexual attraction to two genders. For example, Jim likes women, but also likes men. Not too difficult. Where it gets a bit more complicated, is sexualities like polysexual, and pansexual. Prefixes may tell the story, but I’ll divulge either way. Polysexual is the sexual attraction to three or more genders (I can explain, just wait), while pansexual is the sexual attraction to all genders on the spectrum. These sexualities get little to no representation in media, and are therefore more unheard

Queer? Wasn’t that made into some sort of offensive term, derived from it’s original meaning? Yes, it was. But in recent years, the LGBT community (notice I didn’t throw in those last letters) has attempted to reclaim the word, and use it to their benefit, rather than their harm.

of, but do exist.

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ransgender - This one’s a bit more complicated. While, yes, transgender can mean a cisgender person, meaning they identify with their biological sex, transitioning to a different gender, it can be much more complicated as well. Before we continue, note that the person does not need a sex change, nor do they have to present as the gender they identify as, to be considered transgender. It’s all about how they feel, and what pronouns they use, so it’s important to respect their choice of pronouns.

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Doesn’t the A stand for Ally?

ow, continuing on. Alongside the previously mentioned scenario, there are also people who do not identify as male or female, typically called non-binary or agender, or identify as more than one, bigender, polygender, pangender, and more. The

No. There are absolutely no cases where the A stands for Ally. It stands for Asexual. Trust me.

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id this seem like a lot? That’s no surprise. If you knew some of it, good job. If you didn’t, that’s also not a surprise. Information on things like gender and sexuality beyond the basics ueer/Quesrarely come from tioning a reliable source, - Used to so it’s hard to tell describe those who what’s real and sexual - This what’s not. Whether do not fit in to the last one is you knew it all or rest, or are a commuch sim- not, that very fact is bination of both, is queer. This is a word pler than the rest, why spreading this that has been re- so it’s a surprise that information is so claimed by the LGBT there isn’t much of important. Showcommunity, as well an understanding ing people just how as applied to many for it. Asexuality is many ways to idenof its members. simply the lack of tify can open up Questioning de- sexual attraction to doors to them and scribes those who anyone. Asexuals help figure out why are unsure of their never or rarely expe- they’ve felt out of sexuality and gen- rience sexual attrac- place for so long. So der, and are ponder- tion, but this isn’t spread this around, to mean they can’t bring it up in coning it. be in relationships. versation. You never ntersex - Let’s They don’t lack ro- know who’ll need get one thing mantic attaction, the info. out of the way, only sexual attracthis doesn’t mean tion. It also does not people have… mean they’re naive, both. In a sense, yes, or broken, it’s simthey do, but not in ply just how they the way one might feel towards sexualthink. To define it, ity. It’s just the same intersex is where as having a sexual someone does not attraction towards have the anatomy someone, you can’t to be entirely bio- change that you do, logically male or and that’s okay. female. Meaning,

prefixes still apply, so take what we learned from pan/ polysexual, and apply it there. Again, it all depends on how this person is feeling, and it doesn’t matter how they present themselves.

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someone may look mainly female on the outside, but they have mostly male anatomy under their skin. Intersex is exactly what the name implies, sexual. It’s genetics over identification, intersex people will dictate their own gender just as anyone else would.

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Photo by http://cheriecherie.tumblr.com/


1 1 r e b m e t p e S r e Aft S

By Zainab Munawwar

Even as a Muslim, and someone who wasn’t even aware of what was occurring at the time, I associate the events of 9/11 with Islam. Now, it’s not because I believe my religion preaches hate and terrorism, far from that rather. It’s the hate I’ve seen directed towards my religion, the people of my religion, due to the events of September 11th, that causes me to do so. It’s because a group of coward , malicious men decided to hide behind the name of a beautiful religion, to carry out their contemptuous agenda. It’s because of the fear I am fated to face daily about being persecuted due to my beliefs. It’s the pain I feel whenever I see another Islamophobic hate crime on the news. sentence I was nine years old when I witnessed Islamophobia, in action, for the first time. Going to Pizza Hut after my mom’s lengthy doctor appointments had become ritualistic at the time. We were just about to leave when the moment that changed my perception of the world occurred. I remember it vividly. My mother, who had breast cancer at the time, had begun wearing the hijab due to losing her hair, and stood up to throw something away. By doing so she, came into the vicinity of two men waiting for their pizza. The man on the right pointed to

my mother while she was turned away and said to his friend “That’s a terrorist.” To this day, I don’t understand what his deluded mind thought would happen, what in the world had possessed him to say those three words. Did he assume he could get away with such an accusation? If so, he was in for a shock. My mother immediately confronted them, and immediately they denied the words being said. She went on to say she had cancer to which their apathetic reply was “So?”. This was followed by a showcase of tears, my dad threatening to call the police, and our departure once they were perturbed enough. Later, my mother revealed that those tears were fake and she was much more livid than in pain, saying that after the scene she made they would think twice next time. When my six year old sister asked what a terrorist was, the river of tears that followed were of pain. The nine year old me was stuck in a pit of confusion, and felt an unfamiliar ache resonating throughout her. I wasn’t oblivious. I was well aware even at that age that Islamophobia existed. I would watch the news with my parents and hear their sighs of dismay when the word was mentioned. Yet, seeing it off screen was unfathomable for me. Why would someone call my mom a terrorist? What did she ever do to them? Why was being a muslim equivalent to being evil? I was eleven when I realized why my religion and my people were hated. Remaining silent when Islam or terrorism

is mentioned has become habitual for me. “Don’t speak up. Don’t correct them. Don’t argue. It’ll just make it worse.” has become a mantra for me. I speak from experience. As a naive eleven year old I attempted to correct my world history teacher, telling her the textbook was wrong, there was no way the spread of Islam was military and forceful; it is a religion of peace after all. why was the book making it out to be hateful? The blank yet somehow critical stares I received from my classmates, my teachers abrupt response of ‘the book has evidence’, and the snickers I heard from the back of the class, was all that was needed to persuade me to never do so again. The exchange was beyond mortifying, and I once again felt that dreadful pain in my body, the one words could not describe. This pain was heightened on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 that year, once again in my world history class. We watched a video about the attacks. The words Muslim, Islam, Pakistani, and Middle East were used abundantly. My friend patting my back and offering me a sad smile weren’t enough to ebb the dejection and frustration. I didn’t speak the rest of class. The following year, I asked someone to get out of my assigned seat in class. He told me to go fly a plane. I sat somewhere else. These experiences were what ultimately caused me to become gradually more and more embarrassed of my religion and culture. I attempted to hide and speak little of

my religion, afraid my peers would treat me as that man treated my mom, speak about what I believe in as those in the video did. I felt as if being a Muslim was a punishment, something to be ashamed off. No one knew I felt this way, even I didn’t. I suppose I wanted to believe I wasn’t a coward,I was a good Muslim and feeling how I did about my religion would go against that, so I persuaded myself I just felt religion was too controversial of a topic to be open about. That one of the most important things about me was “too controversial”. It was the summer before high school I fell in love with the parts about me I once cherished so much again. Warily, I was convinced by mother to spend three months in Pakistan to attend my only uncle’s wedding, spend time with the family I hadn’t seen in years, and experience the holy month of Ramadan in the city that, even after sixteen years since moving away , she considered home. It was around this time I had begun to delve deeper into the depths of tumblr, the more socially aware side. I had embraced feminism with open arms and be-

gan to follow some Muslim feminists. It was then that I began to see my struggle wasn’t one of solitude, an entire community of Muslims who shared the same mindset as me, also had dealt with Islamophobia and how it affected how they emotionally perceived Islam. I never interacted with them aside from likes and reblogs but, they gave me the strength to become much more accepting of who I was. Along with this, being emerged in the Pakistani and Muslim culture brought the beauty of my people in front of me. The selflessness and the unity of my people. I felt proud to be a Muslim again. Waking up on the morning of 9/11 this year brought on the same sense of fear as it always does, and the acceptance that I will hear my religion be disgraced. Despite how much I’ve come to be openly supportive of my religion, I can never bring myself to speak up on this day. Call it respect or fear, regardless I resolved to keeping my feelings bottled up. The warmth I felt when I saw the #afterseptember11 tweets on twitter cannot be expressed in words. Finally, I had an outlet to share of how 9/11 had changed my life.

Scrolling through the tweets of others I did feel pain, that my brothers and sisters have had to endure such traumatic things but, I also felt a sense of unity. No matter how little or large our struggles, we share them. We demand others be aware of the discrimination we face. We will fight until there is a change.

eptember 11, 2001. The date provokes many images to the mind. Planes. The World Trade Center. Death. Destruction. Terrorism. The Middle East. Islam.

“I was nine years old when I witnessed Islamophobia, in action, for the first time.” CRIMAZINE

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Hello Fall, Goodbye summer 28

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Photos by Bianca Calvani

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Profile for Evelyn atieno

September/October 2015  

September/October 2015