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VISIBILITY issue 03

CREATORS & CHANGEMAKERS OF THE SWARTHMORE INTERCULTURAL CENTER

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Swarthmore College Intercultural Center 500 College Avenue Swarthmore, PA 19081 USA (610) 328-7353 SPRING 2018 VISIBILITY MAGAZINE ISSUE 03

Masks

“We wear the mask that grins and lies,” begins the poem by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, referring to the burden of putting on a happy face to mask the suffering of black folks. We often talk about hiding behind masks for safety or to “pass” in mainstream identity, or we talk about unmasking deceivers. However, I wanted to examine what masks can reveal about the person underneath and how they can make our histories more visible. A mask might represent a person’s profession or declare readiness for war. A mask might represent a character onstage or transformation into an animal totem. I chose a range of masks from around the world, both ancient and contemporary, that tell stories about the history of a people. I hope they inspire you to be vigilant of what’s below the surface of things and to proudly wear the legacy of your own ancestors in whatever ways feel authentic to you. Top to bottom, left to right: sleep mask, Mardi Gras (New Orleans), scuba mask, surgical mask, Tami Island tago dance mask (Huon Gulf, Papua New Guinea), Hopi kachina mask (Arizona), Yup’ik (Alaska), vejigante (Puerto Rico), Noh theater mask (Japan), Baule (Côte d’Ivoire), Kwakwaka’wakw tsonoqua mask (British Colombia), Guy Fawkes mask, knight’s helmet (Britain, late 13th century), Huichol (Mexico), Topeng dance mask (Indonesia), Nuu-Chah-Nulth (Vancouver), gay pride costume mask, Sepik (Papua New Guinea), Hemba (The Democratic Republic of the Congo), Toltec (Mexico) Yona Yurwit is a mixed media artist in Philly. She uses her work to explore systems, patterns, and connections, both between people and between people and the rest of creation. Her hope is to inspire curiosity and wonder at the delicate bonds between us all


Acknowledgments

We’re on year three of this publication and couldn’t have imagined the incredible support systems which sustain us today. Endless appreciation for the individuals that make up and illuminate Swarthmore’s Intercultural Center, Black Cultural Center, Interfaith Center, Office of International Students Services, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and the Women’s Resource Center. We’re particularly grateful for the added support of Chelsea Hicks, Nerissa Nashin ‘19, WOCKA, SAO, W+iPS, ENLACE, the English Department, McCabe Library, Swarthmore Communications, the Latinx Heritage Month Planning Committee, the Pride Month Planning Committee, the Rise Up Now Zine Fest, and sponsorship of President Valerie Smith’s Office and the Andrew Mellon Grant — for helping us make this year our strongest yet. And lastly, thank you to each of the contributors who together populated these pages with labor and love. We hope you enjoy this body of work as much as we enjoyed curating it.

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Zine Team Editor in Chief JASMINE RASHID

Jasmine Rashid, class of 2018, is a Peace and Conflict Studies major and new dog mom. She hails from New York and that is where she will return, probably.

Creative Director SAMIRA SAUNDERS

Samira Saunders, class of 2018, is a Peace and Conflict Studies major also. She loves her two dogs Mabu and Josephine and looks forward to the day they will meet.

Layout Manager James howard

James Howard, class of 2018, is a Linguistics major from Atlanta. When’s he’s not busy trying to navigate adulthood, James is probably watching Naruto AMVs from 2007 or playing with Josephine.

Outreach Strategist SHREYA Chattopadhyay

Shreya Chattopadhyay, class of 2020, is a Philosophy and Political Science major from California, otherwise known as the best state in this imperfect union. She is glad Josephine prefers women.

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Graphic Designer JAmes steven garcia

James Garcia, class of 2019, is an Art and Math major from New Jersey. One time in a staff meeting Josephine lovingly brought him a dead mouse that she found. It was disgusting but slightly adorable.

Creative Associate Olivia Robbins

Olivia Robbins, class of 2021, is probably going to be an Urban Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies double major. We’ll see. She loves dogs a lot and wishes she had one, or twelve

Editor

Emma walker Emma Walker, class of 2020, is a Sociology/Anthropology major with a possible minor in English. She loves her cat, Frosting, but is equally enamored by dogs.

Staff Support

josephine Baker rashid Is a dog and also the best one.

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Letter From The Editor “Vulnerability is the least celebrated emotion in our society.” — Mohadesa Najumi Like many of our private experiences, these pages encompasses moments of striking vibrancy as well as striking pain. To our readers, I need to preface that this issue is not an easy read or quick visual experience; as individual truths of sexual assault, discrimination, and depression are made evident throughout this collaborative project. There is something deeply beautiful to me about our contributors trusting us with their many truths, which makes it possible to pair the honesty of injustice with equally honest experiences of growth — of fulfilling intimacy, of pride in one’s identity, of happiness as resistance, and more. The dynamism in content and contributors makes this job as your EIC soul-fulfilling. I’m elated to have realized this vision for a publication over the past three years, and to have an incredibly thoughtful, hardworking, and talented team to continue this work into the future. Gratitude gratitude gratitude is what I could write about for days. On that note — thank you, the reader, for joining us. Let’s celebrate vulnerability, creativity, and visibility together. With love,

Jasmine

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Table of Contents Acknowledgements; Painting by Umi Keezing.....................1 Zine Team...................................................................................2 Letter from the Editor...............................................................4 Childhood by Vanessa Jimenez..............................................8 萬事如故(“Ten Thousand Things As Before”) by Emma Suen-Lewis...............................................................9 Past by Zain Talukdar............................................................. 10 Photography by Abhinav Tikku............................................ 10 A Woman Writes by Alexis Riddick...................................... 11 Afrika by Jolleen Opula ....................................................... 12 Why Men Scare Me by Shelby Dolch.................................. 13 Chinese Take Out by Lesia Liao............................................ 14 Painting by Guillermo Barreto Corona............................... 15 My Sister’s Rape by Anonymous......................................... 16 Photography by Dorcas Tang............................................... 18 Open Letter to An Adopted Child From One Adoptee to Another by Meghan Chi Kelly......................... 20 Community Collage by Swarthmore students................... 22 Haircut by Céline Aziza Kaldas Anderson........................... 24 Like for Coffee by September Porras.................................. 25 “Questions | Permission” by Lydia Koku............................. 26 “Violence” & “Healing” by Michelle McEwen.................... 27 “Call and Response: Photo II” by Leren Gao & Richard Mobley...................................................................... 28 “Call and Response: Photo II” by Francisco Ferreira & Nerissa Nashin....................................................................... 29 “Lost in Translation“ by Emma Johanna Puranen.............. 30 Ceramics by Niyah Morgan-Dantzler.................................. 31 “Love and Lust” by Grace Dumdaw.................................... 33 “A Bronx Burial” by Leslie Moreaux..................................... 38 “Testimonies to Our Hoops” by Citlali Pizarro, Kelly “Taty” Hernandez & Jennier Beltran........................... 40 “Virus” by Kelly “Taty” Hernandez....................................... 41

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“An Education in Facelessness” by Paul Buchanan........... 42 Film by Jasmine Rashid......................................................... 43 Photography by Thomas Stanton & Drawing by Lilian Posta......................................................... 44 “summer 2011, or how the body keeps the score” by Olivia Robbins................................................................... 45 Photography by Chanoot Sirisoponsilp............................. 46 “White Paint and Cockroaches” by Rebecca Ford............ 48 Photography by Raina Williams........................................... 50 “Chasm” by Amy Kim............................................................ 52 “Untitled” by Vanessa Meng and Tessa Hannigan............ 53 “Temperatures Rising” by Amy Kim.................................... 54 “Tarzan” by Hriju Adhikari.................................................... 55 “On Becoming Adoptee” (Excerpt) by Casey Lu Simon-Plumb.................................................... 56 “Message to Higher Ed” by Anonymous............................ 57 “Parrish” by Jasmine Rashid................................................. 59

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Painting by Talia Rugg


Painting by Xena Wang

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Childhood.


萬事如故

(translates to “Ten Thousand Things As Before”) I write love letters to my chinese – for she is fragile. and so I build her pillars to stand on writing out the names of my mother, my aunt, my sister. my uncle, her father, her mother. the characters stand in file and they peer back at me. i think perhaps they might be suspicious but i hope they don’t mind. I draw out love poems to my chinese every spring, and I trace over the words that my mother tells me are the ones you’re supposed to say. I draw them hundreds of times until their backs are straight, and each line sounds off echoes that fly over oceans and back to tell me stories of where I have been. I listen rapt but I don’t quite understand even though i can feel the words hitting me, knocking me over with the momentum of ten thousand sounds, ten thousand sights, ten thousand people and a sea of a language that bore me up from the sand she was never actually fragile she was just waiting for who I’d become

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133 Past 7/15/2017 I look at my past self like my old t-shirt Worn out beyond belief until the time comes to admit It just doesn’t fit anymore My past self Reminds me of that time when I wasn’t thinking about my mother when I let my selfishness take over Imagining the afterlife Not realizing I hadn’t had long to imagine in this one I was so caught up in the mind-numbing sadness of the past and the escape route to the future and the mind-numbing sadness of the past and the escape route to the future and the mind-numbing sadness of The past and the escape route to The future and the mind-numbing sadness of the past and the escape route to the future and the mind-numbing sadness of the past and the escape route to the future and the of the past and the escape route to the future and the Two cliffs breathtaking in sight but intimidating to look down from Perplexing in its power but Consuming in its control While the bridge between them was Far too unsustainable to hold

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I look at my past self like my future self All it will do is give me turf to nail this bridge down While I turn this rickety bridge Into an architectural wonder


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WHY MEN SCARE ME ​​​ content warning: sexual assault and harassment* Well not all men, you’re generalizing. Yes all men. I have felt that familiar fear coursing through my blood every day in class, every time I’m alone with a man. ​ I tell myself, “No I trust him, he wouldn’t hurt me.” ​ And then my heart cycles through racing and breaking as I remember every time that trust was betrayed for us, every victim, every person who knows that fear of being in the face of your oppressor, your constant attacker. That fear that society has forced into your body’s natural selfdefense mechanism. There is no fight or flight, because both running and fighting are exhausting and there are days when the world weighs so much that I don’t want to have do either. ​ ecause sometimes I don’t know if I have the right to respond. Maybe they didn’t mean what I B thought they meant, maybe I’m just overreacting. ​ ​​​ Maybe you’re just being too emotional. ​ ut I don’t think so. Because those moments when a man wants to hug me and B i say ,”No I’m not comfortable,” and he says, “I don’t care,” and ​he hugs me anyway. As if my body is a possession that is meant for universal access. ​ ecause of those moments when an older male puts his hand on my pants zipper when I am B only about 6 years old and ​“do you like to be tickled here?” he asks and i am quiet and he moves my hand over his crotch and ​he says “I like being tickled here,” and when someone comes and sees they talk to him but not me and i didn’t know for years what happened. As if i didn’t have the right to know that I was a victim. Because of those moments in class when I barely get a word out before I’m spoken over. Because the girls had to go to “Rape Escape” classes in junior high. Because we live in a world where we need groups just for women and people of color and queer people since the rest of the world isn’t safe. Because we avoid people who don’t know those feelings of fear because they don’t understand our exhaustion.

Y​ ou’re being dramatic. They say as if there aren’t millions of people who know what it’s like to be afraid. ​ aybe we aren’t afraid of the same things, M maybe our stories are told differently, but my story might just be a lot like yours.

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Chinese

Take

Out

Thank you. Enjoy. The Chinese take out box is an unique Asian American phenomenon The box contains food that is neither completely Chinese nor completely American Kung Pao, Chop Suey, and General Tao I wonder if there is an Asian American flavor, what food is authentic, when is something not, why do I care? Is my Americanness authentic? What racialized structures are in place that move me to challenge them by (re)claiming my food and (re) constructing my identity As I struggle to find a place in America, I realise that the Asian American identity is what I put in as well as 14 what I take out


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My Sister’s Rape The world is sticky with a heavy haziness that obstructs my mind and inhibits its ability to come to clear conclusions about reality. The air seeps through my body’s crevices and into my brain, slowing my neurons. Thinking, moving, almost even breathing are all too onerous of tasks for me to manage. If we don’t have control, what’s the point? I thought that more than anything else we controlled our bodies. They seem to be the only things we have even some semblance of control over, and for that to be violated seems like an atrocity. Our body is the way we engage in the world, the thing that houses our soul, and for someone to trespass in our soul’s home feels nearly unspeakable. And yet it must be spoken about. My sister was raped. She was at a party and had felt particularly undervalued that week, so when the boy’s gaze lingered on her, she was flattered and overcome with a sense of worth. They talked. She knew his friends. She opened up to him; told him about her recent struggle with depression, about the process of healing from a severe eating disorder, and about her experience walking in on our father with another woman. He told her about his parent’s divorce and personal struggle with selflove. Another boy, her crush, witnessed this intimate exchange, and in an attempt to get back at her, started kissing one of her friends — because what do you do when you feel hurt and ignored? You play games. Jealousy’s irrational hands had an unmitigatable hold on her. Do you want to go to a room with me, he half asked, and dragged her away from the party without giving her a chance to respond. In a bathroom with full length mirror, it happened. Her face in the reflection, the only way to process what was happening; the only way to know that she was crying; the only way to know that he saw her crying too. But he didn’t stop. Too shocked to scream, too scared to say anything. I’ll buy you plan B, he said. Oh, how considerate. What a saint. You really do live up to your Instagram bio: I treat women with respect.

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Self-proclaimed nice guys‌ Don’t trust them.

But she said no. She said no and you did it anyway. You saw her cry. Did you see her bleed too? Fuck you, but not even you. Fuck the society that encourages and permits this. Fuck her friends who blamed her; who said that going into a room with him constituted consent. Fuck a society that makes men think that all women want is them. Fuck a society that makes women think that external validation from men is of higher value than the internal validation they can give their own selves. Dear sister, I am sorry. I am sorry that your young age means you have to report it. I am sorry that when you went to the ER to get a rape kit, they viewed you the same way he did: as a body without the human attached to it. The nurses forced swabs into you, dealing with you in an entirely desensitized and impersonal manner. In a situation where you were powerless and already lost complete control over your body, you lost control of your own healing process and of the information itself. I am sorry that in high school trying to stop rumors is like trying to stop water flowing through wide open fingers. I am sorry that our father does not respect your own deserved autonomy over the situation. I am sorry that his own mental stability and sense of justice means more to him than yours. I am sorry that the prolonged process of reporting means that this drags on and on, and that you are reminded daily of his unwelcome presence inside of you. Please know that you are loved. You are loved and wanted for so much more than your body. And as such you deserve so much more than a brief apology over text that your rapist believes rectifies the situation. Sister, you are worth so much. No matter what society tells you, we know better, don’t we? You are worth more than what men think of you. You are more than what he used you for. You are more. I love you, and I love you for so much more than your body.

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Open Letter to an Adopted Child From One Adoptee to Another Preface: I wrote the below letter to my newly adopted, three-year-old cousin from Taiwan, who arrived to the USA in October 2017. She joins me as the second Asian adoptee in our White extended family. I will not be giving her this letter for a while, since she cannot yet read or understand English, and I’ve modified it a bit here for clarity. All names are pseudonyms. I share it with you to share part of my journey as a Chinese adoptee, with humble hope that in it you may find a piece that resonates. Here’s to our collective quest for compassion, positive peace, and shared humanity. *** Dear Yue Mei, You are loved. Your identity is a gateway to your soul.You come from a variety of people and places. You need not be defined by one label, or by any label at all.You can choose how you identify. You have the right to as much fluidity and permanence in your identity as you’d like. My nugget of advice is to continue forming your identity, while staying true to your essence. I wish that you embrace any and all identities that you choose. Wear them proudly. Know that you have the right to identify differently from your adoptive parents, from your birth parents, from your foster parents, from me, from your friends, from your sister in Taiwan…from anyone. You have the right to claim whichever name you choose to claim, whether that be Yue Mei, Hannah, or any other name. You have the right to speak whichever language you choose, including your Mandarin mother tongue, the Italian your parents will certainly use at home, or the English you’ll learn in school. The English language dominates global communication today, but that does not mean it is the best language. No language is better than another. You have the right to identify your gender and sexuality.You need not let your biological sex determine your gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression. You have the right to choose your racial identity. As you navigate race relations in the United States, I would caution you to be on the lookout for the domination of Whiteness.Your skin and eyes and hair and size read to the eye trained by White Western ways, that you are Asian. Maybe it is not obvious to you now, but your phenotype may affect how people interact with you. If I could go back and do it again, I would educate myself on Asian stereotypes so that I could understand how others see me. Remember, though, that how the world sees you and how you see yourself need not ever be the same.

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Look out for when racial hierarchy, and in general any social hierarchy, are at play in your


interactions and experience with the world. Look out for when White, Western, wealthy, heterosexual, patriarchal, ableist, settler-colonial norms are silencing you, and perhaps even more crucially, when they may be leading you to silence others. Fight back against the forces that threaten to silence you, and find allyship in those whose moral compass points towards inclusive, compassionate humanity and radical liberation from power asymmetry. Actively work to know your blind spots – places where your privilege and power may make you the oppressor rather than the oppressed – and act in solidarity with those in chains, so that we work together to all become free. During your journey in this troubled world, find time to care for yourself. Find love, hope, peace, and support from others, and draw energy from engaging with your passions. Especially as you grow older, you may choose to engage with your personal history as much or as little as you’d like. I believe there is spiritual richness in exploring your past. I will caution you that there will likely also be trauma. A good friend of mine, who is adopted himself, once told me that there is trauma in adoption. It struck me as a foreign concept at the time, but I am starting to realize how this is true. Maybe you can find some truth in it for yourself too. Don’t be afraid to seek help as needed to work through your history. I recognize that our personal histories both converge and diverge, and the following may not happen to you, but I’d be remiss if I did not say: If our family members single you out for being ‘special’ as they did with me, take note that perhaps this behavior is an example of Saïd’s Orientalism, which, in my interpretation, addresses the exotification of Asian peoples and culture, seen as distinct from the “more powerful” West. But also take note that the attention you receive is also due to love. Our family is a loving one. We just sometimes don’t know how to express this love. Maybe together we can change the paradigm of our family’s love. Explore the tension between exotification and abundant family love as you see fit. I am really excited for you and your parents throughout this amazing journey of familial development. I have confidence that they, along with your grandma, myself, and others, will love you to the moon and back. In closing, I must say:You are powerful.You are strong and fierce and alive. Use this power, strength, and energy for good. Love yourself enough to be okay with failing, to be okay with making mistakes, and to be okay with not pleasing everyone, especially if doing so would mean losing yourself along the way. Engage in work that fuels your fire, nourishes your soul, challenges your mind, satisfies your body, and speaks to your heart. Be unapologetically you. Forever and always, I am here for you as a friend, cousin, and fellow adoptee. Welcome to our family. With lots of love, Meghan Chi Kelly

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Questions | Permission I have been here before. Where my bed become my trigger, the site where I close my eyes and remember only the hands. Remember when “Stop.” or “No.” or “Please.” Croak from the throat that understood: “They’ll only believe me if I say I said something.” Been here before, where I close my eyes and remember closing my eyes to funnel them moments into grave. Say: “After this, how do I reintroduce myself to my body?” Say: “After this, your shake is your reminder that you are still alive.” When the investigator asks me whether my concussion obstructed my memory of the assault, my body defends herself the only way she knows how. I know the shakes be the taste of yesterday’s blood lingering on my tongue: How intimate be the space between casket and cadaver and me? I know the shakes be an open wound, be a counterweight to strength, be me becoming my worst fears-That in the investigation room, we all die cyclical. I close my eyes and see black girl cry. I watch her mother hush her and a fist lodges itself in the small of her back. This will become her most painful lesson: To know herself a fortress is to know herself a martyr… It is to grieve as ghost or, to disappear, without making a sound. Last summer, my mother leans into the camera on our monthly video call and tells me about her first time. I weep at how closely her story resembles mine and it becomes our last honest conversation. We still do not talk about it, this trauma that has scarred. This hollow, common grief. How our scratched bodies haunt all of us in their tatters. How we’ve begun to misremember it. This time, I give myself permission to purge that body tattooed beneath my skin. Let my skin do it’s thing. Let my skin undergo the process of shedding. Let my bones weep the ink. With all the generations watching. Dear mentor, dear mother, dear mom-mom before her: I️ pull your traumas from the back of my throat and no longer call them (claim them) My Own. May I️ still have your love in all my soft and vulnerable? May I️ still call this moment my strength? May you scrub, scratch, squeeze this pain from my roots? May this pain trickle down the back of my neck like water? May this pain be water? May my strength be a whisper, if only to myself? Say “yes, I️ lived to tell the truth about what happened here.”

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PART I: VIOLENCE

“La mestiza undergoes a struggle of flesh, a struggle of borders, an inner war” (Anzaldua, t1987, p. 100)

Part II: Healing

“The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject-object duality that keeps her a prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war.” (Anzaldua, 1987, p. 102)

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LOVE AND LUST

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As I grow older and hear about the various romantic encounters of my friends or think about my own, I cannot help but discern the blurred line between love and lust that becomes a common point of contention. The images of youthful love and lust sometimes end up looking very similar, which provides plenty of room for confusion, distrust, and often, heartbreak. The subjects of these photos are individuals, couples, friends, or strangers who are showing self and interpersonal love and lust. Just like in reality, it may become difficult to differentiate which photos portray which type of affection. You decide.

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A BRONX BURIAL Mami’s rage knows my asthma like the backside of her hand my split lip ready to burst open again I learned that there was no room for crying in a home that was accustomed to my staggering breath My sickness- not actually real My sickness- a symptom of where I come from (Relies on the Cross Bronx Expressway The congestion of smoke a recollection Of how white people love to leave us with ashes of their history) Black kids aren’t supposed get sick They swallow their coughs instead Feel the burn in the back of our throats Mask itself within our chests Make it seem like I was mourning instead a eulogy for all the home remedies that have failed us The first rhythm I memorized was the beating of Mami’s heart whenever we thought my lungs would fail me this time She began remembering the heartbeats her body had lost before me And if her body could not support a child How could her home? The barrio was unforgivingDid not know what to do with brown bodies except displace or bury them

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So the last time Mami cried was when I did not abandon her She carried me out to term and still they were unsure Mami’s fear presents itself in the quietest of moments she finds herself by my bedside- be reminded that a child could be unburdened by all that was placed against her Does not want to wake me Cannot bear to witness her daughter’s tendency to grasp her hand When my strength insisted that maybe I would give up this time Mami looks at me and tries not to remember her brother- who died of AIDs in the 90s Another brown body forgotten in a Bronx burial scene His skin as pale as hers now His eyes- a sunken treasure of tears that no one is allowed to witness There’s never room for crying in a home that’s accustomed to death Black kids aren’t supposed to get sick I spend my childhood learning how to reassure my mother that she raised me right, that we willed my health back to how she imagined me, cradled in the corner of my parent’s bedroom, my lungs- a steady rhythm to lull away her fears Crying precedes short breaths that make me lose control of myself I internalize it all and tell my mother not to worry

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VISIBILITY Issue 03.  

“Vulnerability is the least celebrated emotion in our society.” ― Mohadesa Najumi

VISIBILITY Issue 03.  

“Vulnerability is the least celebrated emotion in our society.” ― Mohadesa Najumi

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