BOSSIER ISSUE 3 FALL 2017
by Isabelle Groenewegen
Editor-in-Chief: Michele Dale Creative Director: Tiffany Tao Layout Director: Bianca Corgan Managing Editor: Sienna Brancato Art Director: Jessica Li Business Manager: Sydne Scales Head of Outreach: Tan Nazer Head of People: Maya Fleming Editors: Madeline Budman, Olivia Jenkins, Lana Nauphal, Jocelyn Ortiz, Taylor Riddick, Ceci White-Baer Layout Designers: Charlotte Böhning, Olivia Jimenez, Avni Kulkarni, Grace Perret, Mai Pham Resident Creators: Isabelle Groenewegen, MacKenzie Foy, Iman Hussein, Jubilee Johnson, Sarah Martin, MacKenna Strange Marketing: Alexandra Dekkers, Nyana Morgan Social Media: Ankushi Mitra, Caitlin Peng Web Editors: Christina Coughlin, Mayeesha Galiba Newsletter: Narisa Buranasiri, Bethania Michael, Brittney Sweetser Cover: Juliette Silvain Font: Garamond (body), Fat Frank (title) Contributing Writers: Ida Adibi, Madeline Budman, Sienna Brancato, LC Bloom, Hanna Chan, Elsie Coen, Elizabeth Cregan, Anna Crowley, Michele Dale, Alexandra Dekkers, Francesca Drumm, Abigail Glasgow, Hope Goldman, Esthela Gonzalez, Nicole ‘Nicki’ Gray, Rocco Graziano, Arisa Herman, Alexa Huether, Iman Hussein, Sophie Jacobson, Ashianna Jetha, Olivia Jenkins, Olivia Jimenez, Emilio Joubert, Fiona Kennedy, Caroline Landler, Claudia Leonor, Joosje Lupa, Tristan MacHale, Shraeya Madhu, Neelesh Manandhar, Cira Mancuso, Priscilla Mbimadong, Cole McConnachie, Hannah Michael, Melissa Morgan, Tan Nazer, Aurore Ndayishimiye, Lady Nwadike, Elena Ortiz, Mai Pham, Toella Pliakas, Callie Randall, Katie Randolph, Sian Rigby, Madison Rivers, Yasmine Salam, Sophie Septoff, Megan Shapiro, Juliette Silvain, Maya Stevenson, Brittney Sweetser, Natascha Tahabsem, Tiffany Tao, Sydney te Wildt, Ebony Thomas, Whitney Tran, Hannah Urtz Contributing Artists: Taylor Bond, Samu Boyne, Meghan Buonanno, Michael Castano, Emily Chin, Elizabeth Cregan, Taylor Davis, Alexandra Dekkers, Marina Dekkers, Stephanie Dekkers, Chloe Groenewegen, Isabelle Groenewegen, Kayla Harris, Melina Hsiao, Olivia Jimenez, Grace Laria, Allysa Lisbon, Tristan MacHale, Michelle Martin, Melissa Morgan, Abhichana Naiyapatana, Mai Pham, Sophie Septoff, Mika Skibinsky, Ivana Gabriele-Smith, Brittney Sweetser, Hannah Urtz, Alex Zhang
The opinions expressed in Bossier Magazine do not necessarily represent the views of Georgetown University unless specifically stated. All content is submitted freely by individuals and may not express the views of the Bossier Magazine staff.
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Yearbook notes | 2 Intro | 3 Masthead | 4 Letters from the editors | 6 Playlist | 7 Photo diaries | 8-15 Love | 16-23 Poetry | 26-27 Loss | 28-31, 34 To women | 35-37 Body and self | 38-43 Growth | 44-47 the secret life of trees | 49-52 Toilet Talk | 53 Diaspora, resistance | 48, 54-59 Family | 60-63 Birth Control | 64-65 Reproductive health | 66-69 Activism | 70-73 Anti-Hoya | 74-75 Media | 76-79 Funny, something whimsical | 80-85 Signing off | 86
I am the worst at goodbyes. This issue marks the last semester that Tiffany and I will be acting as co-leaders of this beautiful magazine and I am feeling a hundred things. Mostly, I am proud—of Tiffany, of our team, and of our contributors—for all the passion they’ve shown to Bossier and the art they’ve created along the way. Bossier is nothing without you all and I am so thankful to everyone on this campus for recognizing its potential, embracing it with open arms, and always working to make it better. There have only been 3 issues so far but I believe this is our best issue yet. We had a record number of submissions from more people on more topics than ever before. If I could describe my semester in one word it would be bumbling—bumbling through classes, through friendships, through life. Reading Issue 3 calmed me, tethered me, pointed me in the direction of hope, and reminded me what it meant to feel love. It is impossible to read this issue without feeling confident in the ability of humanity to feel, accept, grow, overcome, love, and change. I hope every reader walks away from this issue feeling as inspired as I did. Things I’ve learned from Bossier include: 1. Being vulnerable is brave. 2. Putting people in boxes is dangerous. 3. Editing at 2 a.m. is a recipe for disaster. 4. Managing people is the most rewardingly difficult job on the planet. 5. Everyone should write more. 6. Messing up is not only okay, it’s inevitable. 7. The best pieces are the ones you’re scared to publish. 8. Girls and femmes should run the world. The amount that I am going to miss Bossier is ineffable. It is as much a part of me as the fingers I use to type, the eyes I use to edit, and the hands I use to hold Tiffany’s when we send our issues to the printer. That being said, I could not be more excited to see what the next directors do. I have the utmost faith in our team to deliver a jawdropping Issue 4. I urge you all to make Bossier your own. Try new things, fix what we could not. We have not done everything perfectly but we have always tried our best and were not afraid to fail, correct ourselves, and try again. Remember this while we’re gone—embrace criticism, learn and reflect. But most importantly, keep going. I think the best part about Bossier is the fact that it takes so many people to create. It brings people across campus together in the confines of one extraordinary mag. Because of this, there are too many thank yous to dole out but you know who you all are. Special shouts go to Tiffany, our team, our contributors, my mom, badass women everywhere, and all of the “real” men who have supported, loved, and respected me on my quest to bring this ‘zine to life, most importantly my little brother. Bossier, I have had the privilege of being your co-founder and editorin-chief and now I can’t wait to be your favorite cheerleader and number one fan. Love you endlessly, I promise to never forget you.
I’ve been putting off writing this editor’s letter for the longest time—1. because I am always late and 2. because this issue marks the end of my reign as Creative Director, so this is officially the last time I get a cool column devoted to my musings. It’s not a lot of room to talk about something that’s consumed your life for the last year and a half and I was nervous that I would leave something out, that there would be something important left unsaid. But that’s okay! Because I am starting to realize that this magazine is primarily defined by its constant evolution, its ever-present need to find what wasn’t perfect with the past and to change it for the future. There have been times when things have gone missing: a poem we left out, a person who didn’t get an interview, a perspective that we overlooked. And there have been times when things went unfinished: typos we forgot, events that faded, grand plans that never got off the ground. But while we’re so far from correcting every mistake, we’re also not static. We’re constantly shifting—our mission, our partnerships, our views—in response to the world around us. We have ways to go with confronting our blind spots, but we’ll keep working at it. I’ll probably miss something important as I write this, but there are plenty of Creative Directors to come who will fill in my gaps with so much more than I could possibly imagine. I’ve grown a lot alongside these changes. I’ve learned about myself, how to admit when I’m wrong and how to own it when I’m right. More importantly, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of time learning about other people, especially about the women around me: what makes us happy, what angers us deeply, what we’re scared about, what feels like freedom. Think back to the first time you heard about Bossier— maybe from our first heart-sunglasses profile pictures or that flyer in the Lau 2 bathroom or a stray light-blue baseball cap. I hope you’ve grown a little from who you were during that first encounter to who you are now as you pick up our third issue. And I hope you continue to grow with us as we enter a whole new era. After all, what I’ve concluded is that Bossier is about never sitting still, always evolving and pushing boundaries further, forward, forever. To all the beautiful things we’ve created so far and all of the cool things we’ll make next. Love,
“Summer’s Over” by Allysa Lisbon
by Meghan Buonanno
bon appĂŠtit! photos by Melina Hsiao
10 All of these photos are of food created by female chefs.
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I wasnâ€™t sure if our friendship was real but then you texted me by Michael Castano
camille: ma lumiĂ¨re
by Taylor Bond
the sweetness of things missing
warmth where a hand has just been
longing that becomes anticipation
a lost bad habit my name, minus one syllable
silence in a place of usual chaos
me, changing, hopeful, adrift by Melissa Morgan 14
adrift 30 hours alone in belfast, northern ireland, or: the presence of togetherness, seen from outside
the rose garden
synchronicity by Melissa Morgan
brilliant honey i spend quiet sunday mornings sipping on deafening thoughts of you and though this liquid blazes my tongue my fickle mind forms a coup so i sip once more and think this time Iâ€™m through but oh, how i want to melt into you in quite incidentally, the exact way that this clover honey evanesces into my mug of earl grey by Brittney Sweetser
Saccharine Summer Eyes creak open to a room bathed In the smarmy glow of an unclean sun’s tepid rising The sweet stink of burning trash creeping Through the cracks in the doors, curling Its way up to the sputtering ceiling fan— A deliberate dispersal point for the sickly intruder Wet skin prickles in the impossible stale air— The body’s last attempt at ease. Slow awakening, stirred by the song of bells and squealing accas Fettered by the weight of the opaque heat. The shudder of a half-breath searching For untouched air, something cool or clean But no such respite exists in this saccharine summer Almost too sweet for me to bear. Sugared tea, syrupy and hot Burning our tongues and cloying our insides Masala, mint. It’s all the same. Side street dust storms lend the day a sense of certainty: You will don this debris. Eternal stretches of run-on stink Punctuated only by the soft incense of worship Grateful for the gift of Puja’s perfume Saccharine summer, girl in the street Lips cracked from weeks of grinning Eyes wet to keep it clear Heart laden with the welcome weight of two worlds— One frenzied and thrusted, spinning The other muted, of longing. What of this wonderful weirdness? This delicious desire? With my interior life drawn into spectacular focus By the intensity of this realm of being, of moving It is all very sweet Even my ache for you is sweet by Hannah Urtz artwork by Hannah Urtz
Mami always told me my body is a temple. That I ought to retain its divinity. That every part is sacred ground. So if anyone ever knocked on my doors, They better be ready to get on their knees for me. To worship me at every pew (or my every pew) To bring an offering Not of monetary value but An investment. To treat my body like a book of hymns Reading them With grace And with honor. To listen to me preach habitually But treat every gospel as if it were unheard of. But mamá How will I find my faithful worshippers If I can’t recognize the faithless. Mamá I am not a temple. I am a chapel Accepting of all denominations. Because in order to cherish my devotees I need to recognize their humanity. To welcome all For everything they are And love their demons As much as I love their angels, For underneath many good deeds Lies a lesson from one’s sins. Mamá, I’m a confessional. It’s not all about me. Sometimes I need to sacrifice My pride And realize Sometimes I need to be his blessing. And I say this modestly In the sense that I’m holy water; These men may need my purity. Mamá How can I expect him to get His knees dirty if I’m never willing to kneel? I know you want me to protect my heart But if I love, I will do it ruthlessly. I’d rather fix a broken heart, Than try to find missing pieces That I’ve never Given them a chance to give me.
Artwork by Mika Skibinsky
by Esthela Gonzalez
Trying to show you I'm ok never gets easier trying to show you I’m okay never gets easier... the late night, end of summer thunderstorm has passed and now it’s all misplaced sunlight settling like dust the worst has come and gone or so I hope my heartbeat has steadied and I can finally hear your name coming out of someone’s mouth without feeling like I swallowed something whole the days since the world stopped revolving around you fill up my water glass and condense on your balcony almost full but still sweating out the memory the hurt fresh like the purple bruise on your neck still tender but not in the way you once were with your hands they say that it won’t feel like this forever, maybe but maybe everything will always come back to this by Cole McConnachie
Light The validation you’re looking for will never come from him, because if he saw the light that shines within you, the brightness would blind him. by Cira Mancuso
For my man who's not really mine I feel like Raven It’s the future I can see… but you probably can’t It’s just a figment of my imagination A creation of my hopes and dreams That’s what you are to me. I think I see what we could be. The deepest parts of me long to know you But somehow they feel like they already do, like we met long ago in another galaxy, on another planet, in another country, in another time. But that’s crazy Who my soul claims to know is a fabrication, an extrapolation, an estimation made in my mind’s eye You’re an acquaintance but my body reacts to you as if it were otherwise by Ebony Thomas
The couch was purple but that didn't make much of a difference I lost an earring in that couch and threw away the one still in my ear because I thought it would take up too much space if I ever got a new apartment. Not the square footage of the earring, but the responsibility I would have for this small faux diamond pushpin as I drove a truck from one side of town to the other, its twin held securely between the cushions of my plum couch. And if I ever sold that couch, would I slide my fingers in between the cushions to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything inside? Or would I run my hands across the pillows and fancy myself a poet for giving a couch to a stranger without cleaning it first? I’d sit on the floor beside the couch and rub circles with my fingers on its surface, wondering if maybe its new owner would find a bomb inside. The bomb would have pink wires because I am a girl. Maybe I’d leave a note that would solve a cold case from the 1960s. If the note weren’t found right away, it would be ok. Who is this man? Why is he a man? Why does he bury his nose in the smell of my shampoo, my deodorant, my laundry detergent, my sweat, and my makeup still fragrant in the purple fabric? by Sophie Jacobson
Persephone to Hades I have loved you long, and ever Since the seasons fell in place With earth above and earth below Iâ€™ve looked upon your face When autumn falls, I too descend Upon the earthen stair When I exchange the stone for stars The spring is mine to share When nights are long, I love you In my crown of earthen gems When days are long, I love you In my wreath of daisy stems The drifting of the continents The waning of the moon All changes great and small progress And I must leave you soon. I have loved you long, and longer Will the ages count the ways The earth must turn, and so must I While you are bound to stay And though we move in orbits strange Our constancy is true September must return to earth And I return to you. by Fiona Kennedy
For Her How do I even begin To tell you how much you mean to me Where do I even start, I don’t even know when you started stealing my heart. Watching you grow, find yourself Helped me grow too Started being able to do things I could never do. Thinking of all the possibilities, Every minute of the day. Knowing I’m comfortable saying you have me, every which way. Dreaming of your starry eyes, a soul too deep to comprehend. Hurting from the inside out, knowing we will always and ever be, just friends. Living life on the edge, every obstacle you seem to dodge Pirouetting swiftly through life, you barely stop to pause To realize everything you could ever want and all you that you deserved, was all right at your fingertips, all along. Your passion fuels my heart, your intelligent mind my air. Your gentle touches that erupt in flames and leave trails of magic here and there. Your kinky, coily crown of curls stand in defiance of who may oppose, your personality splashes of red and bright blue in a grey monotone. I will be forever proud of the strides that you take, holding your happiness at the highest of stakes. My need for you and your love for me, are nowhere near. To be your best friend and lover, I’m doomed to be, by your side, right here. by Lady Nwadike
Full Moon in Pisces by Anna Crowley
Last night I cried, lying next to you in bed. Why I can’t be sure. Perhaps it was the full moon in Pisces. Or it was just my period. Last night I cried, lying next to you in bed. You didn’t notice, but that’s okay. My voice doesn’t come easily to me. I cry when I have something to say. When I’m sad, happy, angry. When my friends cry over broken hearts. When my mother cries over my sister. Last night I cried, lying next to you in bed. Why I can’t be sure. Perhaps it was nostalgia for something that hasn’t ended. Or longing for something I already have.
Right, left, right, left Eyes down, feet forward. The chill of November cuts through her. Fingers close on a receipt for a pair of boots She had been planning to return, but She had already worn them, Tags still on. These boots carry her down Rugby Road past the bus stop.
by Madeline Budman
With one sudden step, a sharp intake of breath, She can almost certainly feel A certain hand, as she toys with the receipt, That she has not held, not shared coffee with for several years. His Ghost fingers remain closed on top of hers, Even as she grips her keys To her new apartment. He’s gone, and here, on this cobblestone street, she remains. Her pace quickens. Keep walking. Move on. On second thought, she decides to board the bus.
Her shoulders are her ticket for a Fast pass entry, hopping on before The old woman who had been waiting first. She flies to an empty row—her breathing Heaves with no sensible rhythm. In, out, In, in, oops—fingers circling the receipt Until it is in tatters. Lips tight, eyes Wide open. She fixes them straight ahead, Counting to ten, then again. Not again.
Wisdom 1. sometimes we don’t see those who are with us because we can only see those who left us 2. don’t change who you are for someone who won’t be around long enough to appreciate it 3. if you don’t let your past die, your past won’t let you live
by Olivia Jenkins
Don’t write what you know, write what you want to understand.
Helpless if you asked me how to describe my feelings in one word, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. how can I possibly explain the way you make the butterflies in my stomach try to claw their way out? or how I am missing skin on the inside of my arm from pinching myself at night trying to believe that you’re real? how can I tell you that I loved you the first moment you breathed in my direction? how could you understand that I don’t sleep at night because I’m afraid that you will call and I might miss it? how can I explain the rush of jealous thoughts that barge into my mind when you give your attention to anyone that isn’t me? you see, i can’t picture a world without you anymore. can’t think of being able to function without knowing that your lips still belong to me. how can I possibly make you see that I love you so much that it is hurting me?
I hate how you compared to me to every other girl that passed by. Or maybe I was the one who made it a competition.
The Architect She likes to build homes with beautiful windows beside arched doorways. Intricate designs capturing complexity— her turmoil made magic. She squints her eyes as her pencil glides across draft after draft of blueprints he calls arts and crafts. She wants the walls sturdy. Needs love insulated, hearts warm. She is the fountain to his drain, yet he is like blood running through her veins. He has hands strong enough to break her then make her whole again and she does not speak much. Immerses herself in concrete and bricks so she doesn’t have to build a broken love back up from the ground because who could face the damage in the foundation? by Callie Randall
You I skipped class for you. I ate burgers for you (I don’t even like beef). I wrote essays for you. I stayed up late for you. I wanted to. I wanted to do everything for you. by Olivia Jenkins
Your Eyes I barely noticed you the first time we met Your eyes Didn’t catch my attention But you made me your mission And I liked having your eyes on me They were all I could see Blue like swimming pools Little did I know how easily I would drown in them In you The first time I tried to swim I swallowed gallons of water Before my eyes found my instructor Who reached to pull me out Towards safety
In recent years I’ve somehow forgotten how to swim Years of lessons escaped my memory So naturally I was afraid when you asked me to try it with you Yet for some reason I had faith you’d know to pull me out too
Looking out upon the reddish skies and Crimson dirt, a lonely bike stands out. There’s one wheel sticking up, and another sunk in Clay—it’s old with oily rust-caked handlebars and Creaking gears lost in mud.
It was owned by a boy—freckled, blushing from Sun spots or pretty girls, often accompanied by Wide-tooth grins and a sheepish ducking of the chin. His name was Billy, or Thomas, or Olly—he was the King of treehouse castles, a knight in cardboard sword fights, The thief of Mrs. May’s sweet lemonade.
But against my better judgement You rushed to heighten the waters And when we locked eyes Mine pleading You closed yours And I only wish I’d never noticed you at all by Whitney Tran
And more than that, a friend. But soon enough, the small, wiry hairs on his chin— Or the sandscraper sounds of his voice chaffed And scraped against him, peeling innocent summer Sweat and smiles off—replacing youth with hair, And beer, and girls—Leaving his bike in the dirt, on a hot Alabama day. by Neelesh Manandhar
DEAR LIEUTENANT, Congratulations on starting another year of training. We haven’t spoken in months and I’ve forgotten what your hand feels like when it’s tucked in mine, but I’m proud of you. I didn’t tell you that as much as I should have and I guess it’s too late now. You were always extraordinary in my eyes. You were the only one whose dreams were as big as mine. I hope that your dreams are still crazy and impossible. Nothing is impossible for you, my dear. I thought about you the other day. I wonder what you’re doing, what makes you laugh now, if you still smell the same, if you still have trouble sleeping at night. We don’t know each other anymore. Do you remember what you gave me for my 17th birthday? I told you that I love Ritz crackers. I don’t know why I did that because I really don’t like them that much. But you ate Ritz crackers in class and you let me have some. For my birthday you bought me a box of Ritz crackers. Holding a family sized box in my hand, I loved you so much in that moment. My classes are harder this year. You always told me that I could handle it though, so I’m trying. I’m making more friends too. You were my excuse to keep to myself. I don’t skip meals any more. Or at least not on purpose. I thought you would want to know that. I was your biggest fan. You were my biggest fan too. Is it awful that sometimes I think that not being together is better than being together? I think that I’m okay now. I’m happy. I hope you are too. Sometimes when I feel like the walls are closing in on my lungs and the buzzing starts in my ears, I picture the way you used to hold my face in your obnoxiously soft hands and tell me to breathe. Those moments are less frequent now. I am doing better. You don’t have to worry about me. You probably don’t think about me. You seem to be doing well. Don’t slack in your classes; you’re not going to keep getting second chances. I hope that your parents are finally letting you be a grown-up, but don’t forget to hug your mom and to tell your dad that you love him. I never asked for my book back. I love that book, please don’t lose it. Maybe you could even read it. Do you still hate to read? I don’t think about you, I promise. I don’t want your pity. I’m doing fine, thank you for asking. I hope you’re doing fine too. by Olivia Jenkins
RUSSELL, OR THE EULOGY I’LL NEVER GIVE YOU “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac was your favorite song. It’s fitting. You were never ready to accept yourself, let anyone else accept you. You never actually had the strength that you acted like you had. I like to think that I saw a few glimpses of the real you, the part you tried to suppress for your whole life. Hopefully now you have found the peace that escaped you in life. You always said the best thing about me was my strength. I wish I could have been at your funeral, to see you one last time. I wish I had answered your call the day before it happened. I have so many wishes, so many things that should have been different. No one else could understand us, even I didn’t understand us. How could they? You spent your life living in lies, letting your insecurities rule you, rather than you ruling them. When Linda called me and told me what happened, she told me everything was my fault. That I had no right to hurt, that I was the slut that ruined her life and ruined her husband. That I was certainly not permitted to attend the services for you. I comfort myself by saying that she doesn’t actually believe what she says. I don’t think I could bear the alternative. I know there is nothing I could have done to save you. I remember how it felt to be where you were. The utter, unending pain and self-hatred. No one who hasn’t been in the closet can understand how it feels. The constant state of anxiety and repression. You used that against me once, and I forgave you, but I never forgot the pain I felt. When I found out about Linda and she found out about us (you neglected to enlighten your wife and lover about each other, what a surprise!), I can’t imagine the pain you went through. I wasn’t there for you. I cut you off and told you that I hated you. I told you that when you build a house of cards, you must make sure that a storm isn’t coming to blow it down, or it will crumble down upon you. I feel so guilty for that, but you had to understand, there was nothing else I could have done. I was a child, 18, but still a child, and I wanted love. I thought I had found it. I was tired, after 18 years of running from myself, I wanted to stop running. I wanted to plant trees and find myself with you, yet you set my garden ablaze without so much as an “I’m so sorry.” I couldn’t help you put out the flames. Maybe you’ve finally found peace. I hope so. I pray so. You deserve it after a life of suffering. I used to think you were one of the most important people in the story of my life: my first love. I was wrong. I didn’t really love you, and you didn’t really love me. But that makes our story no less important. Your story may be over, but mine continues on, and it starts with me forgiving you, and saying goodbye. I’ll miss you, despite everything, I’ll miss you. Thank you for playing your part in crafting me into the person I am today. You always said the best thing about me was my strength. I’m going to prove you right. by Rocco Graziano “Mid-day Mist at Nevado de Toluca” by Grace Laria
She lives in a box. It has four walls that keep her safe and keep her head on straight. Leading her on a path to what they call “earning a successful future at an efficient rate.” She wakes up every morning to the peeling, thin, brown shape, with crusted eyes and a dreamy mumble asking: “Isn’t there more, beyond this gate?” Her body simply lies there as her brain moves through her head. She thinks of all the places that she’s never been. The dusty brown begins to droop as the walls quickly cave in. She reaches to catch the heavy bottom but it falls—too fast! All she has left in her brown, cardboard filled room are either the scissors or the tape. She takes a deep breath; her heart’s pounding can be seen through her chest. It’s time to let go but she’s not ready yet. She picks up the tape and closes her eyes as she hides herself and crawls back inside She opens her eyes and hears herself cry: “I’m not ready. I need my gate. I need my tape. I am who I am. I can’t leave this box.” by Maya Stevenson
HOW TO SWIM Middle of the ocean Freedom in the waves Vastness in the horizon Endless options, bottomless directions
Yet stuck in the middle. There’s nothing, but the middle In this endless, bottomless sea. Treading water, you move in no direction Waiting for a sign to point you where to go. Trying to get to the bottom of something Where there is no bottom Just endless possibilities And middleness.
How long can you wait in the middle of the ocean Until it isn’t So free So endless So bottomless Anymore. by Alexandra Dekkers
an ode to death
I never paid attention to the caskets. I only looked at bodies: broken, bruised, wounded, screaming for sinful salvation. Mommy, arenâ€™t we all naked eventually? They all reek of stinky magenta and glorified damnation. Old people stop breathing when soil dances in their mouths; I wonder if the pallbearer sees them dazzled or dead. Mommy, when will he come for you too? Will you be sipping red wine from the river without me? When the time comes, I will not go to your bed I do not want to imagine you like this: nails rotting, face blue. by Tan Nazer
The Choice Women I am always having a hard time making meaningful friends. There are crowds of people that get a “good morning” when I walk past, but with very few of them would I be able or be interested in having a conversation. I acknowledge that it is a fault of my own that I do not open up to more people, but it is curious that those to whom I have opened up are nearly all female. It has not been a deliberate decision on my part, actually the opposite; I try consciously to make more male friends, but it doesn’t come naturally or comfortably to me. I find myself much more at ease around women, which is fortunate considering my art history major. I cannot explicitly determine what it is that explains this, but there is something uniquely gratifying about surrounding yourself with special women. I am not a popular person with an address book filled with friends to call at night to hang out with, and to be perfectly honest, that does not appeal to me. I have a defensive fortress of a personality, and only around women have I been able to take my guard down. The choice women that I have invited into my life have seen me at my worst and carried me back to my best. I still don’t know what it is about them, but I love it. by Tristan MacHale
Closer To You I’m trying to be like you When I smile I hope I look like you did I walk outside, look up, and check to see if you are there You always mentioned college was right for me So I’m a little sad that now you can’t see The tears I’ve shed over the papers I turn in And the victory dances I do when I hear some good news I check my phone for who to call when I need help And your old number stays saved in my contacts I used to call it to hear your voice, the tears that I would shed Things have changed I’m forgetting your voice And when I call your number I get the voicemail I hold onto the lavender memories you gave me And pray that one day I find peace as you did Laying inside your pink casket, a cradle It looked so nice as it sunk into the ground With my heart stuck inside by Emilio Joubert So Close To You
Musings of a Friend by Neelesh Manandhar
It is an unbearable sadness To lose a friend. The light that once touched The corners of the world Shrink and Witherâ€” Dead Leaves in an Autumnâ€™s Chill Drift down into piles of Regret and Melancholy, And then are no more
Learning to Sew by Sian Rigby Last summer, I bought a canvas tote bag printed on one side with the work of Polly Nor—a London-based artist who illustrates “women and their demons.” You’ve probably seen her work: vile, scaly devils lounging in their sin as they peel off luscious wigs and costumes of silky skin. Her work jests at the polished fraudulence of the archetypal ephemeral woman and responds with ire to the weight of modern expectations: be ambitious, be sexual, be proud, but maintain a manicured physique and an air of docile demurity. Last week, in the privacy of my own well-intentioned arrogance, I scuttled off to the grocery store with only my Polly Nor tote in hand—convinced it would easily manage a light load of spinach, capers, and cheese. Add a hearty sirloin steak, a few bell peppers, and two bottles of red wine, however, and the stitching began to strain. By the time I arrived home, one of the straps had disintegrated completely, and I was carrying the bag of groceries in my arms like a newborn child. This morning, I sat face-to-face with the devil on my tote. She smirked at me with cigarette in hand, a pimpled chest, and an oozing stomach, while her wig lingered limply at her ankles. “You’re a modern woman,” she laughed, “you can do anything.” “Maybe,” I thought to myself, “but I can’t sew.” I wrestled with my options: discard my favorite tote and drop $20 to replace it, or dig up that needle and thread I won in one of those pull-apart Christmas Crackers a few years ago. [Internal monologue: What am I willing to give to have my favorite tote back: my money, or my time? Time is my currency. My currency is worth more than stitching. I’m a modern woman and I don’t have time to learn to sew. “Woman’s work” is regression and oppression and I don’t have time for it.] The devil continued to smirk at me until I saw myself through her callous eyes: shiny and waxed and bleached and pampered like a plastic doll, but “an obstinate feminist” boldly abstaining from anything that could label me “woman.” “Hypocrite,” she said. I agreed. Rejecting gender roles does not mean rejecting the opportunity to learn a skill. Embracing feminism does not mean scorning those who invest in skills traditionally thought of as “woman’s work.” Learning to sew will save me money, and in some cases it will save me time. I’ll save my tote from a landfill and I’ll be a conscious consumer. Today, I’ll reinvested the time I normally spend on my makeup into a skill that I won’t have to wash off my face at the end of the day. I pulled my hair back, scratched at a scab on my chest, spread my legs, and sipped some wine. I smirked. I picked up the needle.
Not in public
by Abigail Glasgow
I still see his eyes sometimes, or at least I think I see them. They’re incredibly blue; sometimes green depending on his shirt. I always liked that about his eyes, the way they changed color. He used to go quiet, a silence that I could predict with my stomachaches. My back would slide down the passenger seat, my body shrinking to half its size. My touch was too affectionate, my words too vulnerable. Not in public, he would say. His hands on my tights in a history classroom. Not in public, he would say. His mouth on my neck in an estranged hallway. Not in public, he would say. My whole body is numb when I reflect on these moments. But reject the system. My chair swirls left to right while my chest feels that much tighter. Reject the system. I give in to a feeling of emotional orgasm. Reject the system. These submissions to a glorified history are the antithesis of what I preach. How do I love someone so intensely whose words felt like a punch in the gut; whose parents’ judgment left his lips; whose interest in me was what I could give to him not what I gave. I spend every day promoting a feminist mission whose statements I could not hear when lost in misogynist expectations of man whose body I first felt the night before the ACT, of all things. When I see his eyes—in my head, mostly—all of these memories flood through my brain; does this happen to him, too? I imagine it does, but I know that it doesn’t.
by Alex Zhang
The Body I Carry by Hope Goldman
The things I carry are too much for just one soul to bear. So my knees support the weight of minor stumbles and major falls and the strain of always wanting to keep up with the wind. And my arms carry scars of both anger and adventure, framed with sunspots and stretchmarks. Then my ears hold extra holes as little reminders of teenage rebellion and my relentless resistance to listen. My lungs hold a desire to scream and a tendency to sing. My lips purse in a smirk preceding a laugh or protecting my mouth from anxietyâ€™s bite. My hands grip tightly onto my future despite being blistered by yesterdayâ€™s labors. And as my eyes shift from blue to green they dance with the lights in my life, and as their lids struggle to hold in salty drops of hurt, they release the pain that my heart once tried to hold. And as my vision increasingly blurs with time they slowly adapt to the change. So as my blood keeps flowing and my heart keeps pumping, my hands are empty but my heart remains full. The things I carry are too much for just one soul to bear. But twenty years of weight, and my steps are still light.
Artwork by Sarah Martin 38
my vision Not a day exists without a passerby admiring my big, chocolate brown eyes with impossibly long lashes. The irony in this situation will never cease to amuse me. My “pretty” eyes in fact disguise the disability they cause, making strangers unable to see it and leaving friends to forget it. To explain, my macula never fully developed, making me legally blind. In layman’s terms, no matter how much glasses or contacts correct my lenses, I will always have bad film. My parents strove to ensure that I would not view myself as handicapped; and, for the most part, they succeeded. My disability is the last thing I think about myself. Actually, I think that I have better vision than most people: vision about feelings and relationships and rights and the differences I want to make in the world. On a daily basis, my true, inner 20/10 vision gives me clarity on the feelings of people around me. When a class clown makes a gay joke or a student downgrades an impressive test score, I see my gay friend or the struggling classmate hold back tears. I recognize these slights because I experience them myself. I know how frustrating it feels to hear those in power speak about the value of accepting diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality, but with absolutely no reference to disabilities. I choose to actively bring about a more inclusive and beautiful world through both small gestures and more ambitious projects. During my last school holiday, I wrote to my friend every day so he would feel supported while visiting his estranged mother, and I created the Dance in the Light program as a means for visually impaired and blind children to learn to dance. My vision gives me my purpose. I see that I want to be—need to be—a force for change. My reason for being here and for having a disability and for seeing the world around me in the way that I do is to pave the way for the next little girl or boy like me. I would not have this sense of belonging on this earth or of knowing who I am without my insight, my awareness, and my vision. by Sophie Septoff
How To Tell Your Mom You Have Depression “I think I have depression,” I say to her as I fumbled with my seat belt in the passenger seat. I decided to go with her to the farmers’ market, despite the fact that I was way too absorbed in my book and had no desire to walk around a cramped store that smelled of old cantaloupes. It was a Sunday afternoon and everything seemed to reflect my sadness: the grey sky that casts a filter of bleakness over our small New Jersey town, the stale granola I ate for breakfast, and the eerie silence of my usually crowded home. “Depression is a big word.” She slightly tightens her grip on the steering wheel. I regretted saying anything as soon as I saw the deep furrow between her dark brows. She continued to drive for a while before I could find the words to explain myself. “I really do think that I have depression. All of my emotions are fleeting; if I am happy, then it goes away after a few minutes. I feel numb most of the time. Honestly, if you were to ask me what I was thinking about most of the time my answer would be: nothing.” We pulled into a parking spot and got out of the car. The pensive look on her face let me know that she was mulling over what I said. by Olivia Jenkins
Dreaming by Michelle Martin
My body is a thing that happens to belong to me, my mind tells my body, assertions made from repeated exposure. I don’t even feel my body move sometimes, I look down at it from above even though I am within it and I see myself and myself does not look like myself. My body is the disconnect, my body is the empty spaces, my body is detached, my mind is detached from my body, is my body even mine? Is my body even mine if my body speaks for me? If my body is a story that tells itself before I get the chance to, if my body sings despite commands to whisper and whispers despite commands to sing? A disobedient symphony, instruments playing of their own accord, independent of the conductor, my body parts act alone, my body is not a cohesive whole, none of the many parts match the others, my body is anesthesia, not that which I inject into myself but that which is taken by others without my consent,
my body is solace. Correction: my body should be solace. The gaze and and the dismissive slap in the same breath. My body is all sharp edge and assumption, soft in certain places, rough in others, neither where I want them to be, my body is a disobedient thing. My body repeats itself, asserts itself, my body, my body, my body, my body my body loses meaning, My body precedes me and my body is also a hiding place, small, empty yet somehow full, my mind is full, full of thoughts about my body, full of commands given to my body by strangers, the disconnect, the silence, the body dissolves inside the mind, the body hides itself, camouflage. Correction: the body tries to hide itself but the body makes it impossible, different parts working against one another. The body is never comfortable, has never been comfortable. The mind convinces the body that that is okay. A Recent Correction: The body, my body, has recently reopened itself, Allowed a soul with solar system tattoos traversing the length of his arms to create a home out of my body. And if my body has become someone else’s home, then can it still be mine? Do I want to share what I have not yet fully claimed as my own?
by Sienna Brancato
sketch by Mai Pham
may 4 10:44
sometimes my legs feel so tense that I can’t even melt into my pillows. and I can’t clear my mind, and sometimes my father sits alone in the dark watching the dog sleep peacefully; watching like a toddler, watching in the dark. not one light on in the house. and sometimes I hear sirens through the windows and I see the sparkling lights like christmas. droning on, distracting, disturbing, dragging out until they turn comforting. still and serene like my father and the dog, soothing… sometimes I realize that I don’t quite understand where I am going. why I never clean my room, why my legs ache. but my thighs they feel tenser, they look better. I don’t feel better. the resilient muscles stiff from exertion, they’re long but not lean enough, not lanky. sometimes I realize that I don’t quite understand… why my father sits in the dark. he sits alone watching, eyes glazed and fingers still. and I can’t clear my mind or hear the sirens or see the sparkling lights. I sit in the dark. by Elsie Coen
A Birth by Katie Randolph
Life begins in warm, familiar comfort. It’s slightly crowded, and things might be a little bit dark, but there is a mother to suck nutrients from, a stomach to kick when bored, and a private bedroom. It’s a lonely abode, but it’s soft and cozy and, above all, safe. The problem is that the uterus was never destined to be a permanent home. Eventually, one’s endometrial bed and breakfast is going to need some remodeling, and they’ll be left with no choice but to make the dreaded journey out of that portal of all portals: the birth canal. One small step for child, one giant push for mother. For some, the path to the outside world is bigger, smaller, or hairier than others. Whether it leads to a sterile operating room or a dusty shack or a midwife’s bathtub, the birth canal means that it’s time to leave the only residence one has ever called their own and move on to a completely new one. It’s more than a little daunting. Visibility in the unborn world is rather poor; a young human can’t even be sure of what the universe outside looks like. The mere thought of abandoning nine months of comfort is a daunting and frankly reckless one. There is nowhere else to turn to but grief. First up, denial. One just might not leave. As that gateway to human life dilates, grab onto Mom’s ribs and stay in there. After all, foreclosure and eviction policies can’t apply to the uterus, can they? As the womb gets smaller and smaller, the denial gives way to anger. This place is comfortable, it’s warm, it’s well-decorated, and now the landlord has decided that she would like her body back. It hardly seems fair. An infant can scream, sit on their mother’s bladder until she’s running to the restroom every twenty minutes, and cry until they hiccup, but no amount of third-trimester temper tantrums are going to rewrite destiny. It’s time to bargain for more time, but it’s difficult to trade a lifetime of eaten vegetables, straight A report cards and yes and no ma’ams for a few more months of familiarity and peace. These pleas go unanswered, and the sadness sets in. A coffin is prepared for life in that snug uterus, flowers lain on the grave of nine happy months. As the big due date approaches, small glimmers of hope begin to shine through. It might be safe in here, but it is a little boring. There’s no one to talk to and scarce opportunity for exercise. There’s little to see, and almost nothing to do besides giving Mom the occasional kick. Comfort and familiarity are great until they’re limiting. That birth canal might look terrifying, but in reality it’s probably the easiest trip a person makes in their lifetime. The journey through the cervix will be far less scary than the one to that dreaded first day of junior high school, or the one to the college thousands of miles away from home. The birth canal isn’t a door that closes the past, it’s a portal that opens to a future of amazing things. The trip out of the womb looks terrifying, but jumping back up the Fallopian tubes isn’t an option. The only choice is to fight the urge to hang on to the known, and to let those gloved hands introduce life. When looking around at the teary family and tired nurses and stern doctors that this portal has led to, it is easy to remember on thing: the journey through the birth canal is just that—a birth.
Hallway by Elena Ortiz
Your eyes shut like doors and I am left in the hallway.
My ears drink the resonating sound That seeps into my veins like venom— Alive and raw and ringing.
I inhale the seconds that separate us They swarm like locusts in my lungs— Alive and loud and stinging.
Where do you go when you go silent?
Like a phantom I have wandered down crooked corridors Searching for your sound in the haunted crevices of rotting walls— Waiting for the moment where your hollow breath becomes air.
Tonight there will be an eclipse And your orbit will match mine. Tonight the locusts will fly And when my eyes shut like doors You will be left in the hallway Between rotting walls and haunted crevices— Searching for my sound.
Every time I sat on the train, I used to play a game. I smiled because I knew, I was twenty pounds lighter than you. I wanted them afraid to hug me, In the fear that they would break me. I wanted the wind to blow me away, So I wouldnâ€™t have to see another day. Ana was her name, The friend that showed me the game. She had a contagious disease, She gave it to me with ease. She gave me an addiction, Completing her malediction. Collarbones and thigh gaps, Enough food not to collapse. This was a form of control. A beautiful gift that broke my soul. An omniscient domination. A constant search for perfection. There came a time for me to make peace, To finally release. Following the path to recovery, Food was no longer a luxury. I have come to accept my body. And finally become somebody. Replace calories with fulfillment, By making happiness my new commitment. Finding self-love and forgiveness, Giving my curves some kindness. Focusing on my curiosity, And showing some generosity. Every time I sit on the train, I no longer play the game. I smile because I know: I won the battle ages ago.
by Juliette Silvain
I’m so in love, With a girl with hair the color of dark chocolate and eyes that glimmer gold underneath the sun that can’t help but fall to her feet Her knees are speckled with bruises from the way she dances without a care and, Stretch marks run along her thighs from the demons she has long since conquered; they sit heavy underneath the surface but god damn it she’s a goddess and she can fight, The hair sprouting from her arms is a symbol of the sweat of her ancestors and the beauty of women whose color has become their enemy Her mind is a fortress but it expands infinitely almost like she contains the entire universe within her The dreams she has painted scare her and she defies, she defies, she defies. She is not who you expect. Her brown skin tells her to be subservient, to lower her gaze but she looks up with fire in her eyes and silence in her throat She has unmatchable faith in no God but herself, Her conviction is addicting, her frustrations are exotic and when She looks at her skin like it’s her savior, like the caramel is sweet to taste. I see love for herself and I see love for me. Oh God, do I love her: the woman I am meant to be.
by Shraeya Madhu artwork by Brittney Sweetser
two years ago, i checked myself into rehab. i was ready to die, and my body was struggling to keep fighting through all the abuse that i put it through. i felt powerless, weak, alone, insecure, and incapable of breaking out from the deep throngs of anorexia. i was ready to die, but here i am, alive. my recovery did not occur quickly, and it is still a work in progress. there are mirrors that still hurt, numbers that still reverberate as i eat, taunts that still bounce through my head. but, here i am, alive. i am alive, and i have found myself beneath the rubble that seven years of an eating disorder, anxiety, and failed perfectionism left behind. i am imperfect, but i am learning to love the person that i am a little more every day. i am learning to love myself without the validation of others. without the clubs that rejected me, the likes on social media, the grades that once defined me, the boy who should have called. i am here despite all that has threatened to break me down. i am alive. i am breathing without the weight of my anxiety crushing me whole. i am dancing in my dorm room to taylor swift, badly for certain, but still in motion. i am eating without a roaring calculator, measuring every gram on my perfectly weighed plate. i can admit when iâ€™m struggling, and i can write this on paper without feeling crazy. i can be real about the shit that scares me half to death. i am smiling, i am laughing, and i am crying too. i am no longer a victim to my circumstances, but an active fighter against the demons that once threatened to swallow me. i am alive.
by Sydney te Wildt
Through the Eyes of Middle Eastern Women: The Personal Beauty of Graphic Novels “I was a Westerner in Iran and an Iranian in the West. I had no identity.” Reading those words alongside the black and white sharp sketch of a human shadow, I became entranced with Marjane Satrapi’s world. Her bittersweet sentiments resonated with my own identity crisis. Persepolis, also the ancient capital of the first Persian Empire, was the first graphic novel I ever read. Satrapi took on a bold task: sketching the 1979 Iranian revolution and her life in exile through the eyes of a young girl. The combination of monochrome thick sketches reached me personally in ways no book had ever come close to doing. Intricate drawings of her Communist Uncle Anoosh’s thick white curls and heavy eyes reminded me of my own political ly active Egyptian grandfather. Her contrasting drawi-ings of 1950’s Persian women wearing miniskirts and 1980’s young girls wearing veils mirrored my family’s photo albums of Nasser’s Cairo and today’s Cairo. Simply put, Satrapi’s sketches made her depictions of the Middle East a more engrossing experience. She invites her read ers to view the inner workings of Iranian society. These glimpses paint a Middle East of which we have become comfortably oblivious. Satrapi champions the discrete tenderness behind the loud noise and foggy pollution and showcases the diversity of thought behind a narrowly rigid ideology that, more often than not, plagues the region. Embroideries, another of Satrapi’s books, centers around the gossip of her female relatives while drinking traditional Persian samovar after dinner. Satrapi However, she uses art to plays on traditional cultural norms in Iran, where break away from tradition. Instead of the the men and women retire in separate conventional comic strip layout that Satrapi employed rooms after dinner. in Persepolis, she liberates her characters, sketching them by Yasmine Salam
running loose across the pages as if mirroring their late-night gossip. Their accounts of the latest scandal in Tehran society resemble sessions I had with my nona and khalto that stretched until all of Cairo’s main mosques would blare out the fajr adhan. While Egyptian and Persian society are often attached to female oppression, her artwork highlights the strength of the Middle Eastern female mind. Their stories are our survival. Oratory art is not taught, but is passed down through women. After my affair with Satrapi’s comics and her French films ended, the Lebanese cartoonist Zeina Abirached continued to fuel my discovery of the more “hidden” Middle East. Like those in Satrapi’s works, images of cigarette smoke, intricate carpets, and women with almond shaped eyes and beauty marks consumed the pages of her graphic novel A Game for Swallows. The threat of war is felt from her first sketch. The brutal random shootings, the police patrols, and the divide within the city are instantly conveyed. The Lebanese Civil War serves as the context for Abirached’s personal account woven with family narrative of her childhood in Beirut. The drawings of mosques, churches, ‘no man’s land’, family conflicts, and tapestries served as a more powerful form of expression than words, revealing the hu man factor behind such harrowing conflicts. After being transported by Abirached to
Footnotes 1 Grandmother 2 Aunt 3 Call to prayer at sunrise
Whether it be life in war-torn Beirut, I realized it was the rich history of the region intertwined a ten-year-old in Tehran with the vibrant personal stories expressed through evocative imagery that starting to wear the veil at school made these graphic novels so powerful. Abirached’s candid guilt about or a young teenager discovering the living in Paris during the 2006 Lebanese war in her book I Rememmystical land of “Texas” in Western ber Beirut brought back cold feelings of distance towards Beirut after the war’s end, Abirached Cairo when the Egyptian riots broke out in 2011. Her and Satrapi’s drawings reflect a more poignant depiction was a jet-black double page relatable side of the region often lost with her family’s faces at the furin translated words. Through their thest point. stories and sketches, the reader 48 is transported to places worth visiting.
nutmeg | Preetham Chappada
baobab | Justus Pugh
cherry blossom | Francis Kpue
untitled | Jess Frankovich
the secret life of trees | MacKenzie River Foy Taylor Davis 52
by Isabelle Groenewegen
untangling my roots by Hannah Michael
I had internalized the belief that my natural hair was something in need of dire change. I had engrossed myself in the ridiculously mundane routine of straightening my hair every day to make it “presentable.” My mother, wishing to shield me from the discomfort she thought I’d otherwise endure, would “fix” my hair, applying chemical texturizers then a scalding flatiron to my unsuspecting curls. It wasn’t until I began to untangle the roots of the frustration I experienced in styling my hair that I gradually learned to accept my hair and, consequently, myself. The day I was baptized was the first day I wore my Afro in public. I wish I could say that my newfound dedication to the Lord is what emancipated me from the horrors of flatirons and chemical texturizers, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I was so caught up in in the events of the day that I forgot to bring my entourage of hair ties, bobby-pins, and my flatiron, leaving me stuck with my damp, frizzy Afro. I shrunk in disbelief as my family and friends nagged me to “fix” my hair, neglecting to focus on the life-altering experience that was my baptism, and instead feeling second-hand shame towards my appearance. As soon as the water in the baptism pool invited my curls out to play, I became ashamed of my natural appearance. I longed to have shining, straight hair that would validate my beauty as it carelessly cascaded down my back, but I knew that my efforts to achieve this distorted beauty chipped away bits and pieces of my innate confidence. My baptism sparked my awareness of this, and in realizing how detrimental this self-rejection was, I embarked on a journey to embrace my natural hair. As I weaned off of the pungent smelling chemical texturizers and hot irons used to straighten my hair, I was scrutinized like a lion at a zoo enclosure. Waiting for visitors to take their gaping expressions elsewhere and let me be, I felt the thin glass that separated myself from my peers began to expand; the dichotomy between my friends and I grew as did my Afro. I was already that quirky African girl, and my hair further confirmed my dissimilarity from my peers as I ventured into a world of uncertainty: “Was it okay if I wore my Afro to a banquet? What about the debate tournament next weekend? Or picture day?” I was terrified that my hair would lead others to perceive me as discreditable, lazy, or indecent. In the midst of my painstaking efforts to accept my appearance, I realized that the resistance I encountered was a remnant of racist structures. Despite having exposure to endless literary works discussing the pervasive nature of the rejection of blacks, I have been hesitant to acknowledge the fact that I have experienced internalized racism in my struggle with my appearance. While I tend to shy away from adjectives like “brave” or “wild” that have been used to describe my hair, seeming to perpetuate the misunderstanding that African hair is any“Why don’t you just brush it?” thing but civilized, I feel as “You look so nice with straight hair!” if my efforts to accept my “I think you should let your hair down.” hair have been brave. My “Can I touch—” hair is an emotive subject “Hairspray could fix your frizz.” and is inseparable from my “Could you sit somewhere else? identity. I know that my I can’t see the board over your hair.” Afro is unconventional, “Wear your hair crazy but my disregard for the in that afro you have.” status quo is a rebellious “Your hair is so nappy!” statement that I am proud to make.
by Olivia Jenkins
ra in reverse
I used to want to change my name before I could write it. I wanted to replace my viscous vowels and confusing consonants with something simple like Katie, short for Katherine and assimilation. So, I started going by Rori, easily digested and absorbed. But this obsession with solubility did not stem from the sciences. Instead, it was burned into me by questions that rang more of condescension than curiosity and teachers that gave up on pronouncing my name before they even tried. I prayed for the flames to be doused and my seared marks healed through a baptism. While others were searching the depths of the Atlantic for remnants of the diaspora, I was willing to exchange my culture for complacency. I purged any recognition of my origins, in an attempt to hyphenate my heritage before I was even a citizen. I rejected the strength of the women in my family who carried babies and borders on their backs in my quest to become lighter. Similar to Atlas, I wanted the burden of a country on my shoulders gone. And so I fasted and forgot the taste of Rwandan food and the Kinyarwandan word for comfort, for pride, for home, and I scrubbed lemon juice and hydroquinone into my skin. One day, my mother took me aside and reintroduced me to the flavors of my country and showed me a new use for the sink. We cleansed our hands in order to make a mess. The ingredients used that day are as follows: some warm water, a little bit of yeast, and enough flour to spread into dough and seep into the lines on my motherâ€™s hand, the imprints from her journey and hardship and ecstasy. Sugar proportional to the influence my sweet tooth has on my diet, a dash of cinnamon, some butter, and an egg were also needed. We mixed together flour, sugar, and spice and stirred the water, butter, and egg into a bowl with the yeast. The yeast mixture was added to the dough, and we let the flour saturate the counter, our hands, our hair, our everything (immersion is optional, but highly recommended). The soulful sounds of Rwandan gospel permeated the air, and I kneaded to the beat until the dough was soft, but not sticky, and as resilient as my people. The dough was split into handsized pieces and molded into circles. I listen to the stories of my mother, and her mother, and the motherland and wove those nostalgic tales into my life. We fried the mandazi in hot oil until they were golden brown and the smell of Rwanda and pride seeped into the air. That day, I discovered that my mother is an alchemist. She transforms flour and eggs into both a dessert and an experience and conjures a partial, but fluent dialogue from concrete English and the soil of her country and now, I see similar transfigurations throughout all cultures. The spinning of green cards into green pastures nourished by an American Dream closely resembles the turning of lead into gold. I too, am the product of immigration and illusion, a magician who will make borders and gushidikanya disappear and pull honor out of an ingofero. And whose greatest trick will be pulling generations back together again, after the former act, assimilation, cut them in half. by Aurore Ndayishimiye
owning the in-between by Ida Adibi
I vividly remember being mocked by my preschool classmates for my inability to pronounce the “th” sound, a phoneme that doesn’t exist in the Farsi language—my first language. They would ask me to count to three and burst into hysterical laughter when I replied with “one, two, tree,” as my toddler eyes filled with tears. Raised in North Carolina by two Iranian parents, I have always existed in an awkward in-between space, not quite Iranian, not quite American. Full disclosure: my parents are the most amazing people in my life, and this isn’t to throw shade at them. But on some level, due to the vast differences in our experiences, there was always a gap I could not close. As a middle schooler, I rolled my eyes when they did not understand my pop culture references or mispronounced simple words. In high school, I was frustrated when they didn’t make friends with my best friend’s parents or could not advise me on my college applications. These criticisms are objectively unfair and seemingly trivial, but nevertheless, they made me feel glaringly different from the most important people in my childhood life. The older I get, the more I realize the extent of their sacrifice. I think of the painful adjustment period and overwhelming anxiety I felt just from moving from one city in the United States to another 400 miles north. I cannot even begin to fathom permanently leaving my home country, culture, language, family, friends, everything, to start from scratch. It must have been crushingly terrifying. But they did it anyway, and as a result, their two daughters can aspire to goals of which they could not have dreamt. All children of immigrants are well versed in the anxiety of proving you are worth your parents’ sacrifice. If I don’t achieve more than they did, then what was the point of them cutting their roots to come here? I feel it with every A- on a report card. I feel it when I allow myself to consider not going straight to law school. I feel it when my mental health disables my productivity. Every setback or uncertainty is tinged with the guilt of my mom’s silent disappointment if she felt I was not achieving my full potential.
Iranians are considered “white” on the census, and throughout my childhood I desperately tried to force myself into that box which I checked on every form. I straightened my hair daily; I changed the CD when a Farsi song came on in the car; I told my parents to pack me sandwiches instead of Iranian food because the other kids thought it smelled funny. I wanted to fit the mold my largely homogenous high school in the nice part of Charlotte had given me, and if that meant trimming the unruly parts of my identity, then so be it. College and the community that came with it served as a turning point. I took Farsi classes during my first semester at Georgetown, finally agreeing to learn to read and write in my first language. I became involved in the Iranian student group and spent winter nights eating Ash Reshte in a campus apartment with my Iranian American classmates. This past summer I worked in an office with young Iranian American women, the most transformative experience I have had thus far in terms of my sense of identity. It was honestly a game changer to find women I could talk to about U.S.-Iran policy and the Bachelorette finale in the same conversation. I was amazed by their ability to seamlessly own their entire identities, and I was immediately inspired to do the same. I love that I can listen to the Hot Rhythmic playlist on Spotify while teaching my friends to make Khoresht Gheymeh—an Iranian stew—with my mom’s recipe. I love that my conversations with my parents are interlaced with English and Farsi phrases, the different languages used as we find to be convenient. I love that “Iranian American” can be a complete identity in itself rather than a gap. I am beginning to own the awkward in-between space that has stretched me my entire life. And I can pronounce the “th” sound.
y l i m a F s rT ee Words flow out of the valleys of mouthsâ€” Sacred things doused in tastes From future wonderings. They speak to me in tongues, forgetting Bodies filled of the sweeping plain Break against foreign soil. American dreams begin to pour like gold, Like acid, erasing A home once known and parents Long gone. For others take root, sprouting, Constricting the China once held, Leaching it from bone. They lick At wounds; sacrificial in their wanting. And I have to wonder, do they forgive Soul for cutting down family trees? I store the seed, the pit of it all, Deep inside my stomach unknown. by Megan Shapiro
1 天気の女性 (The Weather Girl) Accompaniment: 別々に 同じお日様 一緒に apart the same Mr. Sun together
Accompaniment: I humbly receive that which is given to me.
3 谷の崖 (Cliffs of the Valley) Accompaniment: 自分の中 静かな山が 住んでいる
within myself tranquil mountains dwell
various international stars are soon coming home
(International Stars) Accompaniment: 色々な 国際星が 直ぐ帰る
by Samu Bonye artwork by Samu Bonye
ashes to ashes I am not unlike you. I, too, expand my lungs to inhale the loitering none sense. I, too, am separated by the barriers you erect between the color of your skin and mine; and the stress of your tongue and the stress of mine; and the height that you wear which, unlike you know, makes you smaller in between.
How it lies to me everyday; Drives me to believe that God in his oneness has spoken to the color of your eyes when all along he has just been warning mine.
And whatâ€™s worse is the summerâ€” how it tells a story across the breadth of your face, of golden suns, quivering under your might, and oceans of azure, heaving at the sound of your voice.
So let me breathe before we collide.
White man. I am not unlike you. I, too, am a body That races the skyscrapers with its height.
Let me breathe before we collide.
by Natascca Tahabsem
g n i l l e Mod
s l e d o M y M by Stephanie Dekkers
For Ellen by Elizabeth Cregan
My mom walks into my room and begins to talk, talking just to talk, to fill my lungs with her breath, to root herself in my world. We absorb each other. But right now, I am not porous; I am not permeable. Instead, I am an impenetrable wall of teenage snark. I am annoyed. I begin to send her away, knowing full well that in a not-too-far-off time and place, I will get mad at her for not staying. She begins to leave, but not before wanting to turn on the fan, turn down the bed, make me some tea; she could give me the world and still ask if I needed anything. As she lingers in the doorway, I take her in: navy sweatpants and a hoodie zipped up to her collarbone—the one she bought from that cheesy surfshop in San Diego. This embarrasses me, makes me laugh but not out loud. Beneath the glinting silver of her zipper is a still-pink scar. Her downy hair curls gently around her ears. It’s growing back in. If you unzipped the hoodie further you would see more scars—on her hips, on her belly; she grew the cancer like she grew my brother and me. Her body betrayed her so mercilessly, so recklessly, so cruelly close to where Michael and I first discovered what it was to have a heartbeat. Elizabeth Knowlton, Ellen Knowlton. I’ve told her everything that has ever happened to me, every thought that has passed through my head, every question I probably should have just Googled. She knows the depths of me just as I was carved from the depths of her. We have matching birthmarks on our right cheeks, an inch and a half from the creases of our eyes, measured out roughly with finger and thumb. We have the same nose—the one her uncle told her she should thank God for, because otherwise she’d be ‘too beautiful to bear’. We both dance too often. We both laugh too hard, our jokes funniest to ourselves when we think no one else has heard them. Here on my bed, she pinches my little toes for the millionth time, asks me if I know they’re her favorite. I do, of course. I always found it a bit disheartening that these two toes were my mother’s favorite quality of mine. But maybe it’s because they’re the last things she can hold in her hand, put in her pocket, like coins or marbles or pieces of gum. They are the last things that truly feel like hers. It is three years later and my mother’s face fills the screen. I squint through the glare as she pretends to give me a sip of her coffee, her hands crowding towards the camera, willing herself to stretch across the country. And for a second, she succeeds. She is right there, laughing beside me. My mother’s skin is a window. Warmed by the sun, streaked with rain. The world rages within her and I can see it all. I see her, as she sees me. I seek to know her, as she seeks to understand me: to find out if I made my bed this morning, to find out the last name of my date from the week before. We are each other’s polygraphs. It is mid-afternoon and I am quiet. The guests on her favorite radio show laugh loudly, picking up my slack. Quiet, leaning my head against the car window. “What’s wrong?” Quiet. “Please tell me.” I cry so hard and so silently and she already knows why. And so she wipes away my tears. She lets me sit in my silence. She lets me float, breathe. She is quiet; I finally feel lighter. My love for her is heavy. It is painful to carry, to protect, to hold with two hands. It knocks the wind out of me, spills into my lap like the moonlight that spilled across us that night we reclined in the front seats of my car, sad music and bad news, crying because we realized that maybe this thing wasn’t for forever. My love is for her sense of humor, for her pure joy, for the small noise she lets escape every time she is about to speak. I never know what she’s going to say but I know when she’s going to say it. I know she is going to use her hands and too many words to tell me what I’ll immediately forget. Hearing her voice is like hearing a lock click; it is the sound of coming home. And this voice sounds silly sometimes, like when she talks to our pets or rehashes her college French; like when she speaks of her unrelenting love for me, unaware that I am more like an anchor than a child to hold, more of a cross to bear than the daughter she bore. But there is so much noise that I am grateful for, so many songs we have sung for each other. She tells me of her months in Paris, of the boy who fell in love with her on a train, of the cheap bread and wine. She shows me the letter he had written her that very day—teaches me the romance of being young and creative and maybe a little bit lonely. She cries at my poetry and laughs when I don’t know I’m being funny. She texts me a heart as often as she breathes and answers my 3:00 a.m. calls so I can tell her through tears of unromance and cruelty, of strangers’ hands acting without invitation, of anxiety that won’t let go. We are not the same women, but we are cut from the same cloth. Sometimes I get nervous that my edges are too frayed, that I unravel too quickly. And maybe I do. I know that moments will come when I will collapse, when I will shift and shatter into an inevitable mess on the floor. But I also know that she will be there—to pick me up, to make me tea, to tell me I’m beautiful, to ask if I need anything, when the answer to that question has always been simpler than either of us realized.
Wilkommen Wilkommen home Home There was something about the way “Herzlich Willkommen am Flughafen Frankfurt” rang in my ears this morning that made me want to cry. Frankfurt Airport has always been meaningful to me. It was the last plot of German land on which I stood before my family moved to Washington, DC in 2008. I remember even now how it felt when the wheels of that U.S.-bound aircraft lifted. I cried. I felt like I was leaving home, though I had been told persistently that my true home was where my parents were from—a boisterous, unfamiliar land all the way across the Atlantic. Today, 9 years later, I stood in that very same airport as an American through-and-through. I’m writing this essay on the second leg of my journey home from a study abroad program in Trier, a quaint little town in the West of Germany. I am lucky that my layover at Frankfurt Airport this morning was short; I’m eager to get back to U.S. after 5 weeks away. Nevertheless, it felt good to be back in Frankfurt, the city where I spent my childhood, even for only a 20-minute hustle across the massive terminals with a Laugenbrezel for sustenance. Tens of thousands of people today alone filtered in and out of that airport. Perhaps their stays were longer than mine. So why, then, did my chest clench when I heard that silly little welcome message? Today wasn’t even the first time I’d been back to the city since my family moved. A few summers ago, we spent a weekend-long layover in our former stomping ground and explored our old neighborhood, met up with friends I’ve known since I was 5 years old, and even paid a visit to our local grocery store in a search for that one type of “quark” yogurt I ate every day after school until I was ten. Every aspect of that weekend was expected to tug at my heartstrings and, for a moment, allow me to envision my world if we hadn’t returned to the United States. But it didn’t. Then there was today. There was something about the way I, only half-awake and half-aware of my surroundings, absorbed every German word the airport shuttle bus sounded over its speaker. It was as though the city and country of my childhood could become mine again because it was something I could finally understand. I may not be fluent in German, but after studying abroad in Trier, the language was under my skin. I didn’t have to catch every word, or even every sentence to find comfort in the familiarity of its rhythm, forceful in its vowels and soft in its consonants, grating to some, beautiful to me. Language is curious for its power. It is divisive. The inability for two people or groups or societies to communicate causes them to recede further and further back into the words that feel safe in their mouths. I can’t help but think of conflicts born from language. In most countries, dialect becomes a new measure for status and worth. Fluency is a safeguard against discrimination in the United States. In Spain, Catalan and Spanish open a rift between citizens. The Swiss affirm their disinterest in the affairs of their closest neighbours as they chatter in curly, sing-song German that no one else can understand. But language is the ultimate handshake. Since language is often such an integral part of the culture it communicates, learning a language becomes a most powerful tool for exploring and understanding those cultures. The process of language learning demonstrates an incredible desire to reach across aisles, to offer empathy, to grow. I feel silly writing about language when I myself have never been linguistically-inclined. The German I'd picked up from living in Frankfurt as a child left my brain practically the moment our plane touched U.S.-soil. Next I took a stab at Spanish: after seven years of it in grade school, I can barely expunge a couple entry-level phrases under immense pressure. The only language I have ever been fluent in is English. I truly thought that was enough for me. My last five weeks in Germany reminded me that with language comes new friends and old homes. The welcome message in Frankfurt reminded me of a world I left behind when I let my German slip away as a child. Now I feel like if I extended an arm, I could reach out and grab it again. by Caroline Landler
To To my My Daughter Daughter If I were to have a daughter, I would hum to her sweet lullabies Rocking her gently and patting her small back. Holding eight pounds of concentrated purity and Twenty-two inches of personified hope, My lips whispering adorations into her tiny ears My mind memorizing the muscles that twitch when she smiles My fingertips grazing her petal-like skin And my eyes admiring hers, whose glimmer challenges the stardust that made up the very atoms of her precious body. And when she is listening closely enough to hear my soft hums and gentle whispers I would look into her blue or green or brown or hazel orbs and I would say You are beautiful. See your beauty without a compliment or a number or a mirror. You are compassionate. Embrace your sensitive soul because Humanity’s superpower is to feel. You are intelligent. Combine the intensity of your emotions with the potential of your four cerebral lobes to craft an open mind with the ability to not just process information but to connect to accept to understand to be taught. so Learn. There is a joy in learning. and Write. Capture moments and feelings and people before they all disappear.
And on your first day of school When you are looking out the window at the glistening ground at dusk Be prepared. Because as soon as you step into your classroom, people are going to try to put you in a box. They will use backhanded comments to make you feel small And use media and comparisons to make you look small. They may try to take away your voice by using your youth and your gender against you. They may try to take away your strength by reminding you of all the times you have fallen. They may do whatever it takes to make you more palatable, or easier to pass along. But don’t let them. Root yourself in whatever path you choose with the strength of an oak and cover your ears whenever they tell you that you cannot do something. Have the complexity of a human mind And the confidence of a lioness And the depth of space. Be immense. And when something goes wrong, because—believe me—it will, remember that red is not just the color of blood but of roses and rubies and black is not just the color of hate but of ebony and outer space and green is not just the color of envy and money but of moss and pines. The waves of disappointment and sorrow may sometimes overwhelm you, And while the sea salt may sting, it cannot blind you to the light above the surface. There is always good in the world. Open your eyes. Find it. And remember, You’re never too old to need your mom.
by Hope Goldman
So don’t forget to cross your t’s and dot your i’s and use those eyes to make sure that you haven’t stepped on any tails when you’re focused on looking forward and then once you’re there you’ll look to your left and right and say man, i’ve got work to do. But remember how much you have already accomplished just to get there. And remember this: Start with the little things. Surround yourself with blankets at night and rays of warm sunshine during the day and art that makes you feel something and music that makes you want to move and people who will scream just to tell you they love you even if you’re not willing to hear them. So pay attention. Pay attention to stocks and elections and your credit score. But pay greater attention to the honeybees while they’re still here and the phases of the moon and how much dew tops the grass at five in the morning.
by Caila McHugh
by Jubilee Johnson, Resident Creator
That’s the first thing that comes to mind when she puts on that wig, adjusting the blonde contraception so it fits over her scalp. Then she has to go and run her long fingernails through it, agitating the hair like it doesn’t already fall dead straight like a white girl’s would. Looking at Yanise, or just the back of her head, gives me vexation. It’s so blonde, nearly celestial. Though I’m not star struck, or minimally impressed. Everything looks tacky, and I ask, “You know, no one’s going to believe it’s your real hair.” She counters that that’s the point. Hair nowadays is an accessory. “This is like a handbag.” She insists. But what was the point? “But why can’t you just wear your real hair?” “Because I don’t have any real hair, stupid.” She keeps playing with the wig, swinging her head back and forth so all I see is corn silk whipping across her face. Better yet, she reminds me of a beef patty. Dark skin enclosed in yellow. I’m not saying she looks ugly, but I wouldn’t touch her wearing that thing. The moment she comes on to me, trying to start something, I’m tearing the piece from her head and burning it. But Yanise wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t make a move. Not unless I initiated something, and even then I’m doubtful we’ll ever do all of the old things we used to do. I remember seeing her for the first time, when she came back from U Albany in May. I think I’d heard my mother say she was home for the summer, but I didn’t believe her until I saw Yanise outside. On Jerome Avenue, she stepped out of a Payless moving fast like she’d just shoplifted. She had on a long denim skirt, a white tank shirt, and canvas sneakers. Of course, no bra and gold hoops that were heavier than her breasts. I only caught her in profile, but I knew that was Yanise. And she was bald then. Only a shadow of hair, like she’d just finished chemo. But she was moving so quick, the recognition was fugitive. Still, I could spot her gait. That powerful stride she always committed to, moving with a swiftness and speed like Flo Jo. It was a weird experience, made even weirder by the visceral impulse I felt. Right below the navel, it hit me. And the freak I am…I followed her. I had just come from the subway, hadn’t walked very far, and oh shit there goes Yanise. What would you do? With nothing else to lose, broke, inspired, I just started walking. I kept my eye on her narrow frame, her smooth backside. She really cut off all her hair. Never thought she’d do it, but then again I’m not surprised. I never thought she’d leave me either, and now months later I’m flouncing into a 99 cent store with no purpose or ambition. She’s in the beauty aisle with a pack of plastic gloves in hand. I go to the other aisle, looking at disposable aluminum pans. Yanise used to make the best baked macaroni and cheese. I figure she still does, but not for me. Favorites, among all the things she could cook, were breaded catfish, turkey wings, and pinto beans. My metabolism use to function with so much speed it was suspicious. “Angel. I see you in here. Come on.” She was calling me, in the same tone my mother used to have when I strayed from her whenever she took me shopping. The younger me never listened, I’d hold out until she screamed murder, knowing I’d either get cussed out in the store or receive a beating at home. But for Yanise, I came the first time. She was the only one in her aisle, hand on hip, looking at me. Her arms opened up, and it was slow for me to understand she meant embrace. So I walked over, accepting the strange exchange, barely touching. “When did you do this?” I touched her head, forgetting about permission. “A little while ago.” “Why?” “I don’t know. I’m crazy. I don’t think anymore.” She was noticing me, trying to gage how I was going to receive her appearance. And this gave me confidence, that some part of her still sought my opinion. And honestly, I liked it. Certain woman, I think, can rock no hair. And Yanise had it. Her face was clear, charged with more accessibility. It’s as if every feature stood at attention, and pursued a quiet, but appreciated, majesty. I could see sensuality in her nostrils and teeth, and I really felt like this was the best her. “It’s cool.” “When I wake up, I brush my teeth and go. I don’t do anything. I just take off my durag.” “Word?” “Yeah.” She paused. “You know I saw you the whole time.” “No you didn’t.” “I noticed you the moment I stepped out of Payless.” “Lying.” “No, I did. You can’t be slick with me.” She picked her nameplate chain up off her chest, rubbed it between thumb and forefinger. Then set it down. Just that gesture brought my focus to what was suspended below the necklace. Wearing that diaphanous shirt, I could see the color of her areolas greeting me from the other side of the fabric. She use to have piercings, but I guess she stopped wearing those. “So how you been?” To answer me, she started walking forward. She was talking, perusing over baby details of her life. She moved to the register, produced a dollar. “You got eight cents?” I did, and I offered it over like it was an extension of me. Outside it was hot. Afternoon light almost made me feel dizzy. Or it was Yanise. Again, that peculiar feeling in my abdomen, as if all my bowels had decided to shift because a galaxy was realigning itself inside of me. “So what you doing this summer?” I wanted to know. “I don’t know. I have something new lined up, but I might just stay a waitress.” “Make your money.” “I wish someone could just hand it to me.” “Don’t we all.” Something strange passed between us, and again I felt that weight. Something increase in my body—the formation of a planet. Sun was setting. We’d walked to the next subway entrance. I kept beside Yanise as she walked downstairs. She needed to put money on her card. The machine asked if she’d like to add time or add value. “Funny how deep the MTA can be. Would you rather add time or add value to your life?” She’s talking to me as she shoves a bill into the slot.
I shrug. Artwork by Ivana Gabrielle-Smith “Both.” “Me too.” She smells like everything I remember. Hair grease, yellow rice, candle wax, and honey. Those are the mingled odors I can detect, when she decides to give me a real hug before walking through the turnstile, and catching the incoming 4 train. Two weeks later my man Luap called me. His name is Paul, but that’s just his government. The whole world, excluding his mother, says Luap. Or Purple Luap, if you wanted to bring up how dark he was. His skin was so dark his gums had a tan. He was the color of mahogany, and that was my man since short pants days. I use to eat at his house all the time, digesting the good Haitian food his mother churned out every night. Between his mother and Yanise, I used to never worry about food. I was so comfortable in his mother’s house—a mark of real friendship because she didn’t just let anyone inside. “You’re the only good friend Paul has.” She insisted, giving me more plantain even when my belly was taut like a drum. I guess I was. Even though, I would argue, Luap was the only good friend I had. He was the no bullshit friend. The friend who never minced language. If I ever had a problem, he proposed his thoughts even if they hurt my feelings. “We don’t have time for foreplay.” He always said. He said that to me, and all the women he’s ever been with. I never knew anyone more honest. “Yo, Angel, I saw Yanise at the club.” “What you mean? Where?” “You know the little spot we went to before on your twenty-first?” “Yeah.” “Your girl was there. Or your old girl was there. Just thought you’d like to know what she’s been up to.” “She was dancing?” “She was doing everything. Wild hair and everything.” “You sure it was her?” He started projecting all these grand expletives (“word to my seed” and “I put that on God”) so I believed him. Luap never lied—not to me or his brothers. “Yo, alright. Alright. Talk to you.” “Be good.” I started getting dressed. I put on sneakers and pulled a loose shirt over my head. I brushed my hair a few times in the mirror and adjusted my chain. I got my wallet and keys and was out the door. I had no money for train fare so I walked the entire Concourse. It wasn’t late. But it was at that point in the day where the sun’s heat is diluted by long shadows. I walked so long, knowing exactly where I was going. Reaching her building, I had to walk because the elevator was out of service. I felt as if I had transported up there, because I don’t remember vertical motion. Apartment 6H. I knocked. Abruptly, the door opened, exposing Yanise with her dimly lit apartment behind her. I heard the TV on. She had on a Knick’s jersey and Chinese slippers. “Are you okay?” She asked, concerned. “No are you okay?” I asserted. “Don’t get loud with me.” She quickly checked. “You don’t drop in unannounced and start talking reckless. If you’re not gonna come correct, don’t come at all.” She was beginning to close the door. “So that’s what you had lined up?” I’m talking about the time I asked what she was doing for work this summer. “That’s what you doing nowadays?” “Oh, so Luap told you?” The door opens a crack more. “Doesn’t matter.” “You got your boys spying on me? Fucking creep.” “Nobody was spying on you.” “Whatever Angelo.” Whenever she said that, I felt like she was calling me out my name. A tiny fissure against my skin. We went back and forth in the hallway until she capitulated and let me inside. Her cat remembered me. Her mother wasn’t home. Yanise’s room: “Why do you have candles lit in summer?” “I was putting a curse on you.” She sat down at her little vanity, organized with all her perfume and makeup, hair pomades, and scarves. That’s also when she started adjusting the wig. Birth control. And then we had our conversation on why she was wearing it. “So you cut all your hair off just so you could wear someone else’s?” “Yeah, exactly.” She deadpanned. “Don’t be that way. I’m serious. You look silly.” She looked silly and I didn’t like it. I missed the old her like I missed the old me. I wanted the girl who smelled like kitchen seasoning and not synthetic fibers. “Then don’t look at me.” She was fussing in the mirror, as if Yanise needed to be convinced that she should appreciate the reflection. “Hardheaded.” “So are you. You’re not my man, but you still act like it.” “So go?” “Go, stay, whatever.” She got up and reached for a water bottle. She took a pill, swallowed, and turned to me. 65 “I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care…”
Sophie stared hard at her shoes. Her elbows were firmly planted on the knees of her artfully ripped jeans, hands balancing her pointed chin. She examined her scuffed red Doc Martens as if they were the most captivating objects in the waiting room of Whole Woman’s Health Baltimore. Dark eyes scrunched up in concentration, she followed each shoelace from start to finish, from the eyelets to her double knotted bow. Her thin brown hair hung over her face like a curtain, hanging down to her calves as she was nearly folded in half. While Sophie’s vision might have been blocked, try as she might, her hair could not stifle the sounds of the half-full waiting room. She bit her lip as she listened to the competing noise of a young woman and her boyfriend arguing, occasionally raising their voices and then lowering them as they noticed their volume, and multiple crying children. Sophie couldn’t figure out what the children could be doing in this waiting room, and she didn’t tear her gaze from her Docs to find out. Were they accompanying mothers or older sisters on annual exams? And were those mothers teen moms or middle aged women dragging their kids around, like Sophie’s mother did when she was a child? Were the moms here for abortions—they had their kids, discovered what a nuisance they could be, and didn’t want any more? “Sophie?” called the woman at the front desk, with whom she had signed in ten minutes before. She shot upright from her folded position, eyes widening. Sophie stood up stiffly and did her best to look brave as she crossed the waiting room from her sticky plastic chair, chin held high and avoiding eye contact with every other woman in the room. “Hello, honey,” the pleasant gray-haired woman at the desk smiled up at her. Sophie’s mouth twitched at the corners, but she did not return her smile. “I just need you to answer a couple of questions for me, alright?” she continued. The woman handed her a clipboard with forms to fill out. “While you get started on that, can you remind me what you’re here for today?” “Um…” Sophie’s cheeks burned as she started to speak, and realized she had only managed to elicit a reedy whisper. She coughed into her closed fist to regain her voice. “STD testing,” she managed to stammer out. “And… pregnancy test.” She returned her stare to her shoes, sure that every other person in the waiting room heard her. She could almost feel their judgemental eyes on her neck and hear the laughter that they must have been stifling. But the woman behind the desk did not seem fazed, her serene smile unaltered. “Alrighty-o,” she responded brightly. “Go ahead and sit down, fill out those forms for me, and take them back up when you’re done.” Sophie twitched her mouth and returned to her seat, eyes down this time. Her elbows settled back onto her knees as she balanced the clipboard, creating red imprints in the spots where her skin was exposed through the rips. With shaky hands, she gripped the Bic pen topped with a craft store plastic flower and began to fill out the forms. Name: Sophie Morris. Gender: Female. Age: Fifteen.
waiting room 66
by Maddy Budman
it’s time to kill the tampon tax by Arisa Herman
Last year, Jerry Brown, the governor of my home state of California, vetoed a bill that would have exempted menstrual supplies from the state-level sales tax. In California, items considered to be basic necessities such as food or medicine are exempt from the minimum state-level sales tax of 7.5%. Despite the fact that the bill passed, the governor argued that he simply couldn’t let it be implemented, as the tax is too important to the balance of the state budget. Many support the governor’s position. One argument estimates that the tax cuts, including not just the tampon tax but also the cuts on childcare supplies, would cost the state and local governments approximately $56 million per year. Those most likely to pay are those reliant upon government aid and the programs which would be the first to be cut. Yet this concern is entirely unfounded, as Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the author of the vetoed bill, estimates the annual revenue from menstrual supplies alone to be approximately $20 million dollars, a mere drop in the bucket compared to the several billion-dollar surplus in the 2016 California state budget. Additionally, the fight over the tampon tax is not simply an economic one. There are heavy ideological and moral connotations behind a tax that targets women specifically for products that are vital to their health. Periods are a fact of life that women cannot control, yet they are forced to pay a luxury tax for a simple biological function. Meanwhile, other basic goods, including food and medicine, are exempted altogether. How is this fair? How is this justified? How is this not taking advantage of a population that on average earns 20% less than men? The fact remains that the tampon tax is the only tax in the entire California tax code that is directly aimed towards women. Another argument in favor of the tax states that getting rid of the tax in its entirety would also lift the demand on those who are financially capable of bearing the extra costs and may be willing to pay. Essentially, proponents of the tax argue that those who can pay should pay because more money in the state budget is important and getting rid of the tax would be losing that chunk of revenue from people who are able to pay that tax. But what I’m arguing is that it doesn’t matter what your economic status is, a discriminatory tax towards women is a discriminatory tax and shouldn’t exist. While women of color and those with low incomes may feel the burden most acutely and disproportionately, having to shell out extra money for simple sanitary supplies because of a discriminatory luxury tax is something that no woman should have to do. Twinkies, Viagra, and pear trees. All of these goods share one thing in common. Under the California tax code, they are considered necessary items and thus are exempt from the sales tax. Yet every month when I go to buy a $8.19 box of tampons, I must spend an additional 61 cents in taxes to take care of a basic bodily function. Though this may not seem like much money, it adds up over the course of 30 to 40 years. But even more fundamentally, it isn’t a tax I should have to pay at all. Menstrual supplies are a necessity for most women and are as important to our health as food or medicine. In the course of her life, the average woman could spend up to $18,000 dollars on period-related supplies before taxes, an amount that is simply absurd. Last year, American consumers in total spent $3.1 billion dollars on feminine hygiene products. With a minimum tax rate of 7.5% on period products, we spend hundreds just on taxes. How is my period a luxury when I never chose to have it? How can Twinkies, pear trees, and Viagra be considered necessary goods, but basic menstrual supplies are not? It is time for California and the 36 other states which tax menstrual supplies as luxury goods to realize the true burden they are placing upon women. It is time for them to join the ranks of New York, Illinois, and others. It is time to kill the tampon tax.
If You Give a Vagina a Voice:
How THINX and Sustain are Changing the Way We Think About Reproductive Health and Our Bodies by Tiffany Tao and Michele Dale It is no secret that Georgetown has a complicated relationship with sex and contraception. It’s highlighted in the swirl of controversy over Love Saxa and the persistent attacks on H*yas For Choice, in frequent op-eds about hookup culture on campus (or the lack thereof ), in inadequate university policies, and in our daily experiences—our visits to the Student Health Center, our Instagram feeds, our walks through Red Square. Uncomfortable conversations about contraception and safe sex are necessary, and it is essential that they’re happening here and now. But if the current state of reproductive and sexual health includes shame and discomfort on-campus and in the media, we became curious about the bigger picture—what comes next. Who are the people breaking boundaries in this space? What are their motivations, and why do they do what they do? To answer these questions, we talked to Meika Hollender, CEO of Sustain and Maeve Roughton, Head of Content at THINX, from two companies that are making noise in the sexual and reproductive health arena. Here’s what we learned. For years now, the conversations around sexual and reproductive health have been dominated by white men. Tampons, condoms, and personal lubricants were all invented by men, which makes sense when you realize that their solution for periods was rolled-up, bleached cotton. In this male-dominated, gender binary, and heteronormative atmosphere, periods, sex, and birth control have been viewed as topics to avoid in civilized conversation, engendering shame on the sexually active or anyone with a vagina that bleeds. Today, women are reclaiming control. Female-led startups like THINX and Sustain are reimagining feminine hygiene products. THINX makes period-proof underwear, using revolutionary 4-layer technology so that wearers feel comfortable and confident no matter who they are and what they’re doing. When asked about THINX’s mission, Roughton says, “THINX is inclusive, passionate, creative, and real: We rep every person with a period, never shy away from tough topics, dream big, and always tell it like it is.” Even though THINX began just under 4 years ago, it’s clear it created a product menstruators never knew they needed. In response to requests from eager customers, THINX has expanded its products to include a line of activewear, organic cotton tampons, and a pee-proof line called Icon Undies. Sustain co-founder Meika Hollen 68 der set out to create vagina-friendly,
environmentally-conscious condoms, with the help of her dad, Seventh Generation founder Jeffrey Hollender. Yep, you read that right. Her dad. Sustain believes we should re-think everything we put in, on, and around our vaginas, without hurting the environment. All of its products are organic, vegan, non-GMO, and animal-cruelty free. This father-daughter duo have taken the world by storm, adding tampons, pads, lubes, and post-play wipes to their repertoire over time. “Our goal is to be a partner for women from their first period to their post-menopausal vaginal dryness,” says Meika. “We are filling out our product portfolio so that we meet the needs of women in terms of everything they might need in their sexual and reproductive health throughout their entire lives.” Beyond the important niches that their products fill, THINX and Sustain have garnered attention for their loud, intentional, provocative advertising. THINX initially encountered pushback for its ads when trying to post them throughout the New York City subway system. The ads were deceptively simple: a single grapefruit evoking a vagina, a dripping egg, the word “period” clearly centered. And yet they were banned for being too “sexual” and “inappropriate.” This confirmed THINX’s advertising ethos—imagery didn’t have to be flowery and dainty; instead it should “always reflect a real aspect of what it’s like to have a period, whether that’s using words like ‘blood’ and ‘vagina,’ including trans models, or not being afraid to say, ‘cramps suck!’” says Roughton. Sustain’s visuals are similarly real, bold and thoughtful. Its Instagram page is full of clear photographs of condoms, pads, and tampons with non-Photoshopped bodies and clear terminology. There is no shying away from addressing taboo sexual and reproductive health subjects, and even less so since using social media channels like Instagram means that these messages are delivered directly to the consumer, in public and private. Even apart from these non-traditional visual advertisements, THINX and Sustain ensure that their messaging is applicable to people from many communities, especially those which have historically been excluded from the ideal period narrative. Sustain explicitly states that its products are “for people with vaginas,” rather than explicitly for “women,” since having a vagina is not exclusive to being a woman. Similarly, THINX’s tagline is “For People with Periods,” a nod to the way that trans men and gender nonconforming people also experience taboos surrounding menstruation, and must be included in advertising on the subject. THINX and Sustain’s branding stick out because both companies have intentionally left behind images of young, slim girls running through fields of flowers and replaced them with intentional
mentions of vaginas and periods and people representing a multitude of body types and gender identities. While barrier-breaking in many ways, it is important to recognize THINX and Sustain’s products are not immediately accessible for everyone, particularly at first glance of their products’ prices. For college students especially, who are dealing with many other financial burdens, it may be difficult to prioritize the purchase of a single pair of underwear or organic tampons when tuition, food, and other necessities are calling. When asked about the fairly steep cost of a pair of THINX, Roughton replies, “For us, it’s not about convincing students to buy THINX, it’s about creating a community where every person with a period feels empowered by what lies between their legs. Our mission is so much bigger than sell, sell, sell. We’re here to break down deep-rooted, centuries-old taboos.” Sustain’s co-founder Meika echos this sentiment, saying, “Any day that we’re touching an individual person who feels differently and better about the ways she is engaging with safe sex or asking questions about her sexual health or even thinking about what she’s putting in her body, is progress.” From this, it is evident that THINX and Sustain’s missions are not rooted in simply pushing product, but in a larger reform of our approach to reproductive health and agency. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t financial considerations, but it is comforting to know that participation in an inclusive reproductive space is not capped by a dollar amount, nor is it limited to a single socioeconomic status. Even though THINX and Sustain have made huge strides toward ending taboos around reproductive and sexual health, there is still much to be done. “Trying to create a world where women are open and empowered to talk about their sexual health is not something that we are going to be able to change even with all of the access and funding in the world,” says Meika. “This is a huge social shift in terms of how we understand female sexuality.” Ultimately, it is up to us, the younger generation, the Millennials, the college students, the future leaders, the Gen-Z, to establish a place where anyone from any background feels confident, comfortable, and informed on matters related to their own bodies. So if this is what the future of sexual and reproductive health entails, we’re optimistic about what comes next. There is no doubt that boundaries and restrictions still exist, both on and off this campus, but we can safely conclude that the world our daughters (and sons) are born into will be a little more inclusive and intentional about our bodies, our choices, and our health. We can’t wait.
ODE TO WALT WHITMA N... ... an imperfect femi ni
so… i was told to live in the tens ion, now discomfort is my new hom e. where i push boundaries? push myself? ultimately, i find myself pushin g other people’s buttons. living here means you can add ress your letters to me —to the instruction manual for a jigsaw panel— and i must accept this: not all the pieces are from the same set. what does a perfectionist feminis t look like when living in the tension? i put it this way: to set fires wherever i go makes no willful arsonist of me, merely a trailblazer to knock walls down does not mean i ignore boundaries… just call me a peace-builder to live in the tension means i am a rubberband role model not a dancing-on-eggshells ball erina. tell me i have a backwards view of the work we do every day and i’ll tell you to remember how you see the world: traveling at 60 mph and through a rearview mirror’s second reflection. (Hindsight is 20/20, you know.) & you know i’m not wrong. because that would require a hier archy of opinions fires quenched walls rebuilt eggshells broken though to be wrong might also mean making more of a home out of discomfort. “Very well then, I contradict mys elf. I am large, I contain multitu des,” Waltman whispered to my sou l with his paper words. i contradict myself—others— that which i should be defendi ng? but no one has said yet where contradiction ends and controversy begins (i’m drawing a map as we spea k) so… i live in this humble abode, discomfort, and it is hollow but very, very full, and its glass walls shatter again with every stone I throw— no, i’ll never run out of pebbles , rocks, boulders catch me shattering glass ceilings , i guess. if that’s what it means to live here , in the tension. by Emma Vahey artwork by Chloe Groenewegen
WEATHER. Warmer weather tonight. Scat tered showers and colder in the after nooon. High 54 at 3:30 pm, lowest 21 at 4:20 am today. Full weather repo rt page 23. Closing New York Stocks,
WITH SUNDAY MO RNING EDITION
WASHINGTON, D.C., SU
MY ALL GIRL’S SCHOOL TAUGHT US THE F-WORD
NDAY MARCH 5, 2012- TH
MEMBER OF THE INPEND ENT PRESS. Here is to strong women. May we know them. May we be them . May we raise them. Yesterday’s Net Circulation
their eyes at what I’m saying , but it’s because never quite understood wh we are so well taught about y men dominated our own value eve ry scene. that we don’t need to thin k twice about it. Through maturity and observ Dana gave us this privileg ation, I reale. We know that ized that what happens on the we’re awesome and smart stage is merely and talented and a reflection of the sexism by Madison Rivers just as worthy as any guy and stereotyping our own age. We tha t occurs in everyday life. Of If any of you know my mo reco gni ze our course, the own stre m, you’ll ngth. We believe in art that reflects society will know that she’s a tough, change as society feisty, Brook- ourselves and each other. We’re prepared to does, but why are women lyn-raised gal who has always so constrained to encouraged, kick ass. But other girls aren’t so lucky, and the se roles? I want a script wh or for the lack of a better wor ere the female d, forced me most girls don’t have this privilege. I know belead is a CEO or world lead to take the road less traveled er. I am confident . She tells me cause I was that girl, sitting in the audience, that the other girls in the pro about the moment she kne gram, who outw I would at- unsure of my own worth compared to a boy’s. num ber the boys 8:1, would agree. tend Dana Hall: as her fellow Aft er our The statisteac h-in prospective day devoted to human tics don’t match up. Dana parents filed into the admissions rights last week, teachers challenged us with a In spite of the male-domina hall, she looked up and not ted produciced that the question that could be applied to any global tion s, our theater department is rep largest portrait placed ove lete with r the mantle issue we were passionate about: What am I true female comedic talent. was a woman, our first fem “Women can’t be ale headmis- going to do about it? And as I think of the pretty, feminine, and funny,” tress, which was pretty unusua is an opinion I l and pretty notes I receive during Model UN conferences hav e heard often in the media and awesome for a mom to see. in casting. She was sold. anonymously proclaiming that I’m too bossy, The ladies of Salpointe Hig I’m not kidding, she told me h School Drama, that she just or my grandmother telling me that businessled by yours truly, would pocketed those really good like to disagree, sugar cookies women and female lawyers are far too aggresand we set out to prove them wro that the Dining Center makes ng. I have and booked sive and obnoxious, I realize that the very least won monologue competitio it out of there. Helen seal ns with comedic ed my fate. I can do to squash sexism under my size 6 foot pie ces ranging from a TV com The first time I ever heard mercial for the word is use the privilege I’ve been given to always dead dogs to computer nerd feminism was in this room. be a pro boyfriends. I am ud advocate for the women in I was 12. As my life proud to see that I have bro Ms. Panahi, my advisor, beg ken down the stean giving a and for myself. I encourage each of you to reo types when audiences leave PowerPoint presentation on do the same. Because if we don the show still the concept ’t cherish and chuckling at my performanc of feminism, a flood of teac e. hers ran down support and celebrate one other, who will? I I continue to encourage girl the aisles wearing pink t-sh s who want to irts that pro- can tell you, there is no better feeling than par tici pate in drama. Eventually, claimed “bringing back the the director F word,” and standing in D.C. with millions of women and will choose a woman-dom I’ll admit, I was more than inated show. Our a little scared men the day after what was, for me, the most Thespian Executive Board is of them. More prominent comprised of five than my fear, heart-wrenching presidential inauguration girl s and one boy. There is stre though, was the overwhelm in hist ory ngth in numwit h a com ing feeling mon goal, a common bers, and we have so many of confusion and indignatio talented women n that I felt passion, and a common mission for equality. role models in the enterta towards the presentation. It won’t always be easy, especial inment industry. Back in my ly in this poWo men like Tina Fey, Samant public school, we would nev litic al clim ate, ha Bee, Julia whe n it seems like the new adminer have an Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Schum event dedicated to women’s er and Rachel rights and istration is against everything I value. But I’m Bloom have done amazing thin gender equality. It was som gs to break the ething that not afraid. How can I be, when I’m from Dana? glass ceiling. Girls can lead boys and girls alike would hav , and if given the e made fun chance would carry a show. of—and I probably would hav e joined in. While the boys are off doing If you know me, you know their secret that femi“ma n prayer” before the shows, I star nism crept up on me pretty ted a traquickly. And dition for the girls. We all the reason why is because I gather in a circle had the privand recite our favorite lines from ilege of growing up in a pla any show. ce that taught by Ale For my final show, I change xa Huether me to be inspired by my d it up a bit. With relationships all of the 1800’s dresses and For the past four years, eve with women. It taught me corsets in the cosry production to appreciate of my tume room, I called our own high school drama departm working women like my Salpointe Senent has grandmother, feature eca Falls convention. With d a male lead. I recently atte who refuses to retire, and wom bonnets and fans mpted to en like my count the in hand, we assembled in the number of lines spoken by mom who sacrificed a job green room and all the she loved to male crafted our thespian “Decla characters compared to tho raise me. It taught me that I ration of Rights se of all the was smart. It female and Sentiments.” I would hav ones. It came out to almost taught me that Model UN e liked to take 4:1. If a would pretty wom the mic at curtain call and read an doe s have a more prominent role much take over my entire life our manifes, she . It taught me either to, ending with a rousing: falls in love, is positioned for that women have the power “Down with the aesthetics, to dominate or is patriarchy! Sincerely, the Wo the mother. Sporting everyth any field. My best friend/futu men of Salpointe ing from a re stand-up cheer Dra ma.” uni form sensation definitely taught me to a sexy nurse costume, I por that much. trayed each of my parts with enthus I know this all sounds inc iasm, but redibly cheesy, and many of my pee rs will roll
A FUNNY FEMALE THING
the world needs you(th) by Francesca Drumm
How many times does a child ask the question, what’s for dinner? More than likely, you and I have always had a positive response, a roll call of options and preferences, a choice about what and when to eat. Yet, in Northern Ireland (NI), the stark reality is that for one-in-four young people, that isn’t the case: over 100,000 children in communities across NI currently live below the poverty line. It’s a rising statistic and a growing problem, in what we consider to be a first world country, in our cities, perhaps only around the corner from where we live. More and more often, families have to choose between food or fuel: effectively, whether to heat their homes or feed their children. I believe that safeguarding its citizens from hunger and deprivation is one of the most fundamental duties of government, yet food poverty is an issue that continues to grow as the rate of inflation rises higher and faster than the measures put in place to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The bleak reality is that food poverty and malnutrition affect every aspect of young people’s lives, their physical and mental health, their educational attainment, and their long-term life expectancy as they move from childhood to adulthood. It impacts self-confidence, engenders feelings of isolation, and highlights a real inequality and injustice within our society. The issue of child food poverty was driven home for me while I worked on a campaign as a member of the Belfast City Council Youth Forum, when I was assigned to look at the issue of child food poverty. As the forum’s investigation came to a conclusion, my own inclination was to stick with it, to delve deeper, to ask more questions, to explore short-term solutions while considering longer-term resolutions. Thoughts soon turned into action, and I founded the social justice campaign, education project, and “giving” foundation #whatsfordinner. It aims to address child food poverty at the grassroots level through partnerships between foodbank charities and schools, supported by educational
workshops in participating schools and colleges, and a series of “Giving Weeks,” all underpinned by a social media campaign. I successfully piloted the campaign in my former high school, Victoria College, and in the very first “Giving Week” in April 2017, students, teachers, and parents donated over 1,000 essential food items, which were distributed to those families most in need. I am now exploring opportunities to develop #whatsfordinner from its original start-up in my community in Northern Ireland into a social entrepreneurship foundation, an umbrella organization from which young global ambassadors can form their own #whatsfordinner charter groups aided by local businesses and educational establishments. I am currently working to establish the first wave of #whatsfordinner movements and global ambassadors from Washington, D.C. and in countries such as Wales, Mexico, and Malawi. I believe that each of us has a moral obligation to reach out to others when we observe a societal injustice. It’s important to note that sometimes when we are faced with these pertinent societal issues, it’s hard to know what we can do. How can we play our part in tackling these challenges at the grassroots level, in our own communities? We
can’t just leave it to governments, to Bob Geldof or Bill Gates. It’s about you and me responding to social injustices such as child food poverty in ways that are sustainable, developmental and utilizing the power of young people. There is no doubt that traditional, community based volunteer programs give people an opportunity to give their time and labor to worthy projects. However, real change comes by transforming these programs into “impact volunteering” efforts—vehicles for collaboration, where young leaders can lay a foundation for renewal through networks. Crucially, these ideas do not have to change the world in an instant. Some of our greatest ideas are born in the most mundane of places. The seed of an idea for #whatsfordinner started at a kitchen table. There are 1.8 billion young people in the world, (the largest youth population in recorded history) and it’s true that the world needs you(th)! We must take up the mantle and the responsibility for generating social progress and creating a fairer, more equal, more sustainable world. If we do not act now, who will? Check out the #whatsfordinner campaign at www.whatsfordinnerfoundation.co.uk Interested in learning more or want to become a #whatsfordinner ambassador, email firstname.lastname@example.org
#what’sfordinner #what’sfordinner #what’sfordinner #what’sfordinner #what’sfordinner
photos by Emily Chin
Two years ago, a group of young Black women undergraduates created and held the first B.R.A.V.E. (Black. Resilient. Artistic. Vigilant. Enough.) Summit at the university to acknowledge and celebrate the identities, worth and work of black women. The B.R.A.V.E. Summit brings together black women / femme leaders and participants around the DMV area and beyond for a day long conference structured around panels and break-out sessions. Through student collaboration, we will be able to continue the conversation of equity in terms of race and gender. We not only work to improve the climate around these issues at Georgetown but beyond its front gates. Keep up with us on social media for more details about B.R.A.V.E Summit 2018.
by Kayla Harris
BE au tI FU L
by Abichana Naiyapitana
fIGH TING WOr ds by Nikki Gray of “Sweetheart,” t heard around my home. I used to fight them in favor “Muñeca,” “Tesoro,” “Gorda”: terms of endearmen me “fat.” Even s without them making fun of me because mom called “Pumpkin,” or anything I could translate for friend spoken to, always I fought the beautiful Romance language and, when though my first words as a baby were in Spanish, -old. responded in English. That is, until I was nine years
grew up in Venezuela, a policía in Madrid. My Mexican-born mother who “¿Dónde quedan los jardines botánicos?,” I asked d to visit the botanI ask the officers for directions as it was me who wante and my Argentine grandmother— Abu— insisted my left if I followed ion. They responded—that I’d see the gardens to ical gardens. The interaction was short. I asked a quest the road another two kilometers. it didn’t sink in until I languages, you’ll have twice as many friends,” but My mom always explained that, “by speaking two s responded in my gift. For the first nine years of my life I had alway was thrust into a situation in which I needed to utilize hild without being outside my home country—of acceptance as a lost-c English, but after this experience of understanding ace my gift, practice it, and use it any way I can. labeled as an outsider—I knew that I had to embr
Ar ti s t’s N o te This series is featured on my feminist Facebook Page, “Feminist Wan La Nhoi” (Daily bit of Feminism), which is a Thailand-based Facebook page I founded. I created it because I realize that there is a lack of awareness of what Feminism is back in my home country. This particular content explains what feminism is in simple terms (debunking the common misconception that feminism is only for women, for example). Check out “Feminist Wan La Nhoi” at: http://fb.me/FeministNhoi
by Abhichana Naiyapatana
Reading Harry Potter in 2017 by Toella Pliakas Over the summer I was visiting three of my dearest friends in North Carolina when we stumbled into a mega Barnes and Noble. Since my senior slide had begun a few months earlier I hadn’t thought too much about pleasure reading, focusing on spending my time with my friends before we all went on separate paths to different colleges. That week, however, we were spending a lot of time on the beach and I decided I wanted to have some summer reading to keep me occupied. As we walked through the bookstore we solicited and gave each other advice on which books to read, an act of true friendship and understanding. I stumbled into the young adult section and I picked up the first book in the Harry Potter series. I leafed through the pages and put it back as one of my friends rounded the corner with bulging eyes. “Harry Potter!” she exclaimed. “I’ve never read it,” I admitted quickly—gotta rip the Band-Aid off somehow. “Oh Toella you have to,” she says as my other two friends round the corner and instantly begin berating me for having never read the series. To make a long story short I left that Barnes and Noble with a two for one deal on the first two books in the Harry Potter series. I started the books the next day in the backseat of the long drive home from the beach. I was instantly captivated. A wizarding world? Here? In my world? Tell me more, J.K. Rowling because I want to believe you. At this point you’re probably reading this and you’re thinking “where has she been? Does she live under a rock? The opinion that Harry Potter is a good series has been around for quite a while.” And I would respond that yes I understand I’m behind. But my experience reading the series has been unique because of the experience I’ve had reading the series at this particular point in my life. I did not understand what people meant when they say ‘art saves’ before I read Harry Potter. During this past summer, the summer before my freshman year at Georgetown, I faced a period of transition and uncertainty. Harry’s world provided me a daily refuge from the confusion and fear I often felt in my own world. For that I will always feel grateful. Reading the series in the political climate in which we currently live has it’s provided a new lens through which I can observe our world. The themes that are emphasized in this series—loss and anger, breaking rules, and the eternal battle between good and evil—are all relevant today. In fact, they’re always relevant but they’re particularly pertinent as our country enters its hour of need. With that, I’d like to offer a few takeaways I’ve gleaned from the story of the boy who lived as my journey with him draws to a close: 1. Call evil by its name and don’t cower from recognizing it still exists. When people are afraid to call Voldemort by his name, it is confusing and hard to organize into action. As Dumbledore says at the very beginning of the series, “‘All this ‘You-Know-Who’ nonsense—for eleven years I have been trying to persuade people to call him by his proper name: Voldemort. It all gets so confusing if we keep saying ‘You-KnowWho.’ I have never seen any reason to be frightened of saying Voldemort’s name.’” Don’t be afraid to call evil by its real name. And certainly don’t fear admitting that evil is still present. The ministry loses precious time for mobilizing forces when it refuses to admit that Voldemort still exists. We have made less progress in regards to race than we thought we had in 2008. Admit that and get to work fixing it. Evil contours, evolves, and shape shifts. The only way to fight hate is by first acknowledging it as hate. The Proud Boys are white supremacists. There is no such thing as the alt-right. Hate may shape shift but it is still hate. Call it by its full name. 2. Sometimes working for the forces of good requires breaking the rules. Re: the entire series. 3. Become friends with members of communities different from your own. If all of your friends look like you, you might want to ask yourself why that’s the case. Use the opportunity you were given when you were accepted to Georgetown to build a community for yourself that you couldn’t build in your hometown. At one point in Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore asks Harry why he hasn’t ever once been attracted to the dark arts as most wizards are. Because Voldemort killed my parents Harry responds rather shocked by the seemingly obvious question. Dumbledore responds, “You are protected, in short, by your ability to love [...t]he only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s!” Dumbledore is admitting, rather astutely, that power structures that can benefit an individual are attractive to the individual. Admit that within yourself. Internalized white supremacy is seductive. There is a reason it has been a powerful political tool for centuries. You are not special. Admit that and now work to counteract those thoughts. Harry, unlike so many great wizards, was not attracted to the dark arts because people he loved had been hurt or murdered. You will be able to truly hate those thoughts when you know acting on them would affect someone you care about. Maybe during your childhood there was little space to meet people different from you. There are no excuses anymore. In short, be unafraid of meeting and loving those who are not like you.
A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP OR UNREQUITED LOVE? by Iman Hussein
Broad City is Comedy Central’s recent breakout show and the anthem for every eccentric woman living in a realistic major city. If you haven’t heard of the show, Broad City follows two quirky Jewish best friends, Abbi and Ilana, as they try to live a millennial lifestyle in New York City. Abbi and Ilana’s antics and urban adventures are what you dream of doing while living in NYC, but what makes the show so amazing is Ilana and Abbi’s friendship. But, as the show progresses, I’ve begun to notice a deeply depressing reality in Broad City. The friendship that so many young women have aspired to is actually a well-hidden dynamic that only brings tragedy: one-sided love. As Broad City’s plot deepens and develops, Ilana’s undying romantic love for Abbi becomes more and more obvious. Broad City’s first season captured our humor and our hearts with Abbi and Ilana’s weird, urban adventures. From crazy hookups to a popup Lil’ Wayne concert, viewers couldn’t help but feel like a third member of the already awesome twosome. We all got to see an often-used trope of two best friends—one seemingly normal friend, and her crazily quirky best friend/sidekick that always manages to get them into some crazy trouble around the city—flipped upside down. Broad City’s primary friendship dynamic is a result of the new trend seen in buddy comedies. Ilana is no one’s sidekick; she’s an amazing farce and everyone knows it. Both Abbi and Ilana are two peas in a weird-ass pod, so much so that you can’t help but hope for the best for them. The first season, though, avoids clarifying something for us—sexuality. All we’re allowed to know is whatever interaction fits the given episode’s premise. We know Abbi is in love with her neighbor, Jeremy, while Ilana’s in a relationship with Lincoln Rice, a dentist. But Ilana’s sexual innuendos and hints show hidden preferences that remain devoid of any acknowledgments or conclusions throughout season one. Ilana’s unacknowledged sexuality shows that Abbi and Ilana’s friendship clearly takes precedence over any of their other relationships in the show, including Ilana’s relationship with Lincoln. Lincoln, played by Hannibal Buress, is initially viewed as Ilana’s boyfriend, but as the show continues, Lincoln is Ilana’s primary—but not only—relationship. This means Ilana had been, and is open to, dating whomever she wants. In season one, it was only men; in season two, we see her include women into the mix. Ilana is then either pansexual, omnisexual, bisexual, or definitely open to a relationship (or sex) with a woman. But this isn’t completely acknowledged in the show; Broad City skims over her identity in the face of their strange escapades. Once you do notice Ilana’s ambiguous sexuality, her compliments, touches, and looks, seem to come from a different place, especially in season two. As season two begins, we see less of how Abbi and Ilana interact with one another and more of how they interact with everyone else. From Ilana’s family to Abbi’s neighbors, quirkiness is a consistent quality amongst Abbi and Ilana’s friends and family. Once we have other solid relationships present in the storyline, we notice Ilana’s intensity and loyalty to Abbi above everyone else, including her romantic partners. If it’s not Lincoln she’s not committing to, it’s her perfect match (Alia Shawkat). I even would go so far as to say Ilana’s dislike of commitment and her open relationship with Lincoln are her ways of being always available for Abbi. For example, in Season 2, Episode 1, Ilana helps find an air conditioning unit for Abbi instead of remembering Lincoln’s birthday and getting him a birthday present. Season 2 Episode 3 saw Ilana risk life and limb to help Abbi. These are just some of many examples presented in Broad City of how far Ilana will go to prove her devotion to Abbi. You may want to argue that’s just some real sisterly love for you right there, but I got the receipts that say otherwise. If you look at Ilana as an individual, she’s this badass, beautiful female that gives no fucks (and is capable of rocking some black lipstick that I could only dream about). Ilana is the twenty-first-century complete package people can’t help but be drawn to on the regular. So what is it that keeps Ilana from experiencing a truly open and romantic connection with someone or with multiple people? It hit me that Ilana is the modern-day “Unrequited Tragic Maiden” (1). The Unrequited Tragic Maiden is the ideal partner, but somehow doesn’t make the cut as a romantic prospect for their intended love interest (in this case, because Abbi’s straight and Ilana is clearly not). Instead, they’re “friendzoned” hard. Typically, they’re overshadowed by another character (either Jeremy or Abbi’s other relationships) that manages to make the maiden’s intended lover fall for them instead of her. The maiden recognizes the differing feelings of her love interest and decides to give up her own feelings for the sake of the person she loves. Ilana is the classic maiden (minus the tragedy, because she’s fabulous) with the classic corresponding tropes like the disposable boyfriend and commitment issues (1). Most importantly, Ilana lives up to her role as a confidante to still be around and be affectionate with Abbi without facing blatant rejection (1). For instance, the Season 3 premiere showed Ilana calling Abbi “sexy” and “smart” while they’re in the midst of trying to find a bathroom and get to an art show. At the end of the episode, Abbi helps Ilana take off the bike lock she has had wrapped around her body all day. All the while, Ilana dropped sexual innuendos to an uncomfortable Abbi. Even Ilana’s roommate, Jaime, thought he was interrupting something way too sexual for his comfort! It wasn’t until I saw Jaime’s expression that all the pieces began to fall into place. Broad City, whether intentional or not, speaks to all the queer women that have fallen in love with their straight best friends. The only people who can see the tragic dynamic are the women that could never make that one person love them equally because of their orientation or gender. Ilana is clearly in love with her best friend, and she knows she cannot change that fact. Our quirky girl falls into the same love trap as Sasha in Life Partners, Ivan Beyonce Aycock in The L Word, Tess in Lip Service, Alike in Pariah, and so many unlucky “maidens” that fall for friends that’ll never truly love them back. We’ve all been Ilana—whether we’re gay, straight, bisexual, or queer—as we’ve pined for people in our lives that’ll never love us more than platonically. Female friendship often draws a fine line between platonic and romantic love, if both or either parties aren’t straight. By glossing over this fact, Broad City has gone from a show about strong female friendship to the worst kind of unrequited love I’ve ever seen. As the show continues, I hope Ilana figures out her feelings for Abbi and thinks about whether her life is going the way she wants it to or not. I hope she figures it out for the “maiden” in all of us. 1: “Unrequited Tragic Maiden - TV Tropes.” TV Tropes. TVTropes, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
AN ODE TO LASAGNA
Oh my lasagna, you are so very great! Eating you is my fate. Coated with your juicy marinara sauce, Life without you would be much of a loss! Sauces, noodles, and cheeses too, So much better than just your regular stew! In every bite there is a burst of flavor, The moments go slow as I start to savor! Layer after layer each equally tasty, With your red sauce and noodles oh so pasty! I could eat you every day for every meal, Don't think I am joking I'm totally for real! You make me so hungry even as I write, I want to dig in and just take a big bite! Oh lasagna with a breadstick toasted and hot. You make life wonderful, I love you a lot!!! by Ashianna Jetha
9 Chicas / 1 Playlist
This playlist represents the great friends I’ve made here at Georgetown. Although the songs are very different and don’t seem to have a common theme, it doesn’t matter because our unique personalities work together. (1) CLOSER - THE CHAINSMOKERS (2) SAY A’ - A BOOGIE WIT’ DA HOOD (3) NUMB - LINKIN PARK (4) MONEY TREES - KENDRICK LAMAR (5) STRANGER - OTO (6) WHAT KIND OF A MAN - NICOLAS JAAR (7) RITUAL - MARSHMELLO (8) SUPPERY - MUSE (9) CANDY GIRL - NEW EDITION (10) FALL FOR YOU - LEELA JAMES (11) GOOSEBUMPS - TRAVIS SCOTT (12) BLOOM - ODESZA (13) PERSONAL JESUS - DEPECHE MODE (14) GÓGÓ - KURA (LULU ROUGE REMIX) (15) TOUGH ON YOU - MURA MASA (16) HYPERREAL - FLUME FEAT. KUČKA (17) SECRETS - THE WEEKND (18) TWENTY EIGHT - THE WEEKND (19) 99 LUFTBALLOONS - KALEIDA by Priscilla Mbimadong
don’t call me adam’s
majestic man boobs
sonnetcyclebyMaiPham sonnet cycle by Mai Pham
Hidden, quarantined, tucked away forever Equally vocal yet one is heard more Held captive, unable to sever Behind a wall, left rotten to the core While we serve the exact same function It baffles me to be referred to as Adam’s An assumption made without compunction A prejudice I cannot stand to fathom We kick, we fight, we shout: “let us out!” Unheard in our own bodies must we lie? My own existence I have come to doubt With this notion, I refuse to comply Will you join me in this uphill battle? sonnet cyclebyMaiPham May all acknowledge me as Eve’s Apple.
no role modelz by LC Bloom
Delicate fatty tissues on our chests Associated with femininity Yet on all, even on men, they rest Who should embrace them with dignity Soft, sexy, supply, sometimes sensitive Qualities reserved only for women, right? God forbid they appear extensive— On men—who would promptly lose all their might! Boys, if teased that yours are voluminous Stand up straight, proud, and speak real loud “To be shameful of these is ludicrous, Femininity is a worthy route!” Stop limiting yourself from emotions. I’ll still accept you when you cry oceans. I went to the J. Cole concert with my hat on Hair tied back, no makeup on, rocking black joggers like that song You know? The one that Drake sings Except it didn’t matter whether or not I was a fine thing, No hours spent on getting ready to mess up my timing, Newfound confidence in my style, I was vibing, “Yo dude, I think that’s a girl,” Said the guy behind me. I went to the J. Cole concert by myself Floor seat ticket paid for with no one’s help Not saying that I’m dripping in that wealth Waiting in line, girls in tight jeans and crop tops, I’m feeling my baseball hat stealth... Usher looked at me and said “This is your ticket?” No shit it is. What the hell. I went to the J. Cole concert and no one looked, At my ass or my chest, I was lowkey shook, I walked Alone. At night. Without fear of being mistook For a chick that guys can hit on and get off the hook, No gave me that creepy-ass up-down-up look, But then it bothered me that Dressing kinda like a dude Was all that it took.
dear Hiring Manager, by Joosje Lupa
Dear Hiring Manager Dear Hiring Manager, I was thrilled to learn of your Brand Strategy Internship in New York City this summer. An internship with you would be an invaluable opportunity to gain skills in a field I am passionate about, as well as a chance to put my experience to work. Dear Hiring Manager, I was excited to learn of your Media and Communications Internship in New York City this summer. Dear Hiring Manager, Help me figure my life out. Dear Hiring Manager, Who are you? Do you care why I am writing to you? What does my name mean among the hundreds sitting in your inbox? Hiring Manager, I learned that if I write to you well enough, with enough passion and diverse vocabulary, that youâ€™ll accept me. I learned that if you accept me then I will be commended and congratulated and those words of approval will work like an elixir. They will call me motivated and impressive and hard working. And instead of taking these empty compliments in, I will pluck them from the air and keep them in my safe to give out when future employers ask who and what I am. Only then will I be worthy of love. Do you hear how impressive I am? Do you hear how hard I am trying? Do you hear that Iâ€™ve been led to believe that your refusal is equivalent to my demise? Hamster cages full of souls whose well being hinges on your email to let them in. We, reduced to a number and a competitive edge, come slimy and repulsive at your doorstep. But what seems like a release is just the fire after the pan, and with your new technology you have made us a device to numb us to the burn. A job with you would be an invaluable opportunity to further diminish my character to fit into a small glass box that both you and I can put on our respective shelves. Who needs humanity when you can have a trophy? So please find my resume enclosed with my application, which further details my qualifications for the position. Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Yours Sincerely, Joosje Lupa
baby boy blue
good morning baby boy baby boy blue, they like to say but blue just didn’t suit you not in their very specific sort of way good night little boy with the war painted face whose hips jutted out and whose fists were in place good day baby you’ve been trying to find the parallels in blues which have been left behind have you found your answer? that there are blues in your arms but also some in those dancers which shimmer in your eyes and roll down your cheeks and redden pink-en your face like the sunrise that time when we laid on the beach and giggled at crabs and the sand on our feet… no, toes! there are blues which demand pink, like in that stairwell today when you told me so greatly “Please don’t go away.” baby boy, baby boy, baby boy blue standing short next to your brother sure, brave, but tender, too
good day baby most would say, don’t cry but! pink-en your blues and blue-en your pinks and create ocean sunrises in the simple blink… of an eye these rules just don’t suit you but neither, their blues by Olivia Jimenez
Not so fun and Flirty musings from your fun and Flirty friend How do we fall in love? How do I, the ABC*, stuck in-between, too-many-feelings-for-my-own-good, theoretically-strong-but-also-painfully-fragile, didn’t-accept-I-wasn’t-white-until-tenth-grade, everything-is-a-social-construction, feminism-is-for-everyone, I-only-wear-loose-pants, “powerful woman”, fall in love? How does it happen? Where do you find it? How does it feel? Does it go as fast as drinking coffee in the morning, or slow, like waking up from a runaway dream? Does it hit you all at once like a sucker punch, or does it come and go in waves? Are we all just supposed to wait for high tide? I wonder how it feels to sparkle in someone else’s eyes, to shine bright, to float through existence leaving a trail of glitter behind you because to someone else, you are magic. To someone else, you are the perfect ratio. The one equation that makes sense. To someone else, you are the bottle of two-buck (now three-buck) chuck after a long day. You are a glass of water on the hottest day, and a cup of tea on the coldest. I wonder what it’s like to be someone’s favorite song. Someone can give you so much - your new favorite band, brighter eyes, bigger smiles, the feeling that you can put on paper what’s been floating in your head, lyrics to a song. But how do you know if they even noticed the things you were giving? When you’re too busy fronting as the fun & flirty, self-loving, infinitely affirming “cool Asian”, it’s hard to know. So you order more of the same drinks (not because you like drinking, but because what else do you do at a bar, surrounded by people, but still dancing alone?) You wake up from those runaway dreams of glitter and sparkles and magic and favorite songs. You dye your hair the color of what you assume to be passion. You insist that feminism is, in fact, for everyone. You wear looser pants. You tell yourself that a few close friends, shitty TJ Maxx coffee, funky sweaters, excessive playlists, and headphones to listen to aforementioned playlists are all you need. But you still ask, how do we fall in love? I wonder how it feels. *American Born Chinese.
by Hanna Chan
â€œWhen love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.â€?
Conflict & Creativity artwork by Koyuki Sakurada
Extended online issue