Table of Contents Dyeemah Simmons Celia Kim Brenda Alvarez Anonymous ‘13 Hope Goodrich Chinwe Okona C aro l i n e Hu i Brannon Rockwell-Charland Ghb olahan Adeola Jasmine Adams Elena Loke J o h n n y S p r i n k s t o n , J r. Nicole Mak khs Mayowa Afolayan Jacquelyn Pitts P a o l o Yu m o l S o p h i e Um a z i M y u r v a Sarah Lomax Vi c t o r i a Ve l a s c o To n y G a r d n e r Joelle Eliza Lingat Karl Orozco To n y M o s l e y Anaïs Francis Stewart Yv e t t e C h e n R achel Ishikawa Anonymous
3 4 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 16 17 20 21 22 23 24 26 30 32 36 38 40 44 46 49 50 54 55
in SOLIDARITY Staff EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Joelle Eliza Lingat MANAGING EDITOR Anaïs Francis Stewart PRODUCTION EDITORS Alanna Sandoval Victoria Velasco COVER ART BY Karl Orozco Katherine Hamilton Rocío León
THANK YOU: Jan Cooper, Advisor Multicultural Resource Center
From the Editor: Hello Friends, In Solidarity is Oberlin College’s magazine dedicated to featuring the written and artistic works by students of color for students of color. In this small enclave of northeast Ohio, we have created this collaborative space in response to the demonstrated need by our campus’ students of color. Contributors were given an open-ended prompt: give us anything. Almost all of our previous staff has either graduated or is studying abroad, and our current staff was truly created from the ground up. We thought we would have to scrounge for material, but the response we received was phenomenal. As a publication, we have made concerted efforts to end the cycle of silencing by featuring work by each individual who contributed a written or artistic piece. Our intention is to give agency to those who cannot find it on this campus. We give authority and responsibility to our contributors in the way they intend for their narratives to be conveyed. Although this was a measurable risk taken on by our staff, the results have validated our purposes. It is through both honesty and courage that our contributors have shared their personal experiences, and it has been an honor to facilitate this process of learning, creating, and sharing. It is with great pride that we present the Fall 2012 edition of In Solidarity. Our eternal thanks goes out to the dedication of the incredibly talented contributors, the unerring support of this unparalleled staff, and, most of all, this idea of coalition that our writers and artists are promoting. We hope that through these pages, our stories can finally emerge. In Solidarity, Joelle Eliza Lingat Editor-in-Chief
Dyeemah Simmons 3
Celia Kim 4
Itâ€™s Just Me by Brenda Alverez I am Brown. It's easy to disregard me. Belittle my experiences Explain shit with your statistics Label me with your stereotypical nonsense. Pity me because My parents are separated My sisters are teen mothers. My brother wants to drop out. And I am a product of a Chicago Public School. Blah. Blah. Blah. Stop. Step Back. Relax. I am here. I will stay. This Latina, the color of CafĂŠ con Leche, will go nowhere. I... will not be a teen mother. I... graduated from high school. I...am a college student. and soon a college graduate. A successful woman shattering glass ceilings. These opinions will not be silenced. This journey will not stop. Your acknowledgment will not complete me. This blatant lack of faith will not hinder me. Just know, I am here. And I will stay. Are you mad? Don't be. It's just me.
We Are All Leaches by Anonymous ‘13 I want to rip the stars from my skin, one by one, just like when my mom pulled those leaches from my legs. I’ll let this brown skin run red as I peel the stripes that start at the small of my back, wrap across my face, ending at my toes, and I’d hand them back to him if I could. I’d give my Uncle a big “Fuck you!” and “you can’t take my boys either.” I’d take his 9mm and turn it on him, unapologetically revealing the cadavers that he’s hidden in a public display case; he’s painted them green, and I admit, the slush that filled my shoes cooled my burning soles and eased my father’s pains for ages. I’d drag him to my grandpa’s dirt fields and ask him to talk to me about economics. I’d drag him to the same cell my father sat in and ask him about justice. And we’d end our trip at the 2500 block of North Rockwell Street and I’d ask him if this is what freedom looks like. Maybe I’m wasting my frequent flyer miles, but I’d rather walk home from here, anyway. I know I’d stop on the way to look at refrigerated rooms through old rusted windows. Maybe I could use their discarded bottle caps, so I’d fill my pockets with them. If only I had known that leaving my socks out to dry would have made a world of a difference, maybe my ankles wouldn’t be wasting away. So fuck it, I’ll walk home barefoot. Maybe along the way someone will patch my wounds and cover my blisters; maybe they’ll even have a piece of cloth drenched in water for my burns and scars; a canister of water for my deserted tongue; and a cigarette for the vices that claw at my ankles.
You + Me + Words = More Light Tears by Hope Goodrich I never thought that you, or anyone would love me (oh, oh, such sweet words). I’d always feared that my song of tears Would be a solo, devoid of star light As I’d wander down a path, wanting more. I wanted everything knowing I couldn’t ask for more. How could I have known that you were on a journey, your footsteps light. That all this time you were walking to me so that we may love and cry tears of sweetness and redemption more powerful than words. So, down the twisting path with doubting words. Incessantly chastising myself, and what’s more is that such day dreaming won’t stop the tears. I remember I was resigned that without you And your smiles and your warmth I would just - be me. If that was it then I no longer sought the light. I thought I could never, would never see the light. Then we had a conversation, I don’t remember the words I only know you and I were both there, you looking at me and I was captivated by your heady stare, needed to breathe more. We spent a few blissful hours together and I’ll not forgive you For leaving me last December, alone with my tears. Today I daydream anew, any musings are tarnished with my tears. I accept the magic disappeared with the moonlight And with the damned rise of the sun. Oh but for heaven’s sake- You. Come back and explain it to me in plain English words. I do not comprehend how one so easily tears This girl’s world apart. This girl- me. Here we are again, the same you and a new me. I can feel the difference, the long-gone tears That you kissed away this morning then kept kissing some more. So I offer, can only offer, the odd half smile- tremulously light. For what more can be said for the girl who at last has the words to set her free and now can freely watch the stars with you.
Chinwe Okona 9
Why I Wish I Knew Korean by Caroline Hui My whole life, I have taken pride in the fact that I’m half-Korean. Korean cuisine is delicious, K-pop is catchy, and Korean holidays like “Dol” (a child’s first birthday) are culturally rich and meaningful. Korea champions one of the world’s finest education systems, has a remarkable history of catapulting itself from a land destroyed by war to an economic power in just a few decades, and has produced respected world leaders such as UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon. For these reasons, I seize every opportunity possible to tell people I’m Korean. Case in point: The other day, my friend asked me, “Caroline, how can you eat such spicy food?” “Oh, you know…I’m Korean,” I responded. Some would say I go out of my way to let everyone know my heritage. One time, I went to a music festival and painted the Korean flag on my right shoulder, even though the festival had nothing to do with Korea. Given my massive Korean pride, I was excited to go to Seoul this past summer to do a six-week internship. “MOTHERLANDED. HI KOREA!” I posted on Facebook as soon as my plane touched down in Seoul. I was looking forward to a month and a half of visiting historically significant sites, living in one of the world’s most vibrant, technologically advanced cities, and interacting with local Koreans, something I had never done before. There was only one problem: I don’t know a word of Korean. Having grown up in the US and Singapore, two English-speaking countries, I never felt the need to learn Korean. Furthermore, I never really had the opportunity to learn my mother tongue—my mom remembers very little from her seven years living in Korea and spoke English at home after immigrating to the US. Certainly in the US, this isn’t a big deal. But in Korea, being a half-Korean who can’t speak the language is looked down upon and considered very, very strange. Let me give you an idea of what Korea is like demographically: according to the State Department’s profile on South Korea, its population is “one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogenous in the world. There is a small Chinese community (about 20,000).” South Korea has a population of almost 49 million people, and only slightly over a million of those 49 million are non-Koreans. In other words, my inability to speak Korean created an enormous barrier that I did not anticipate, and it proved extremely difficult to get around Seoul. My troubles began at the airport, when I asked the women at the information desk where I could buy a Korean SIM card for my phone. Because I couldn’t speak Korean, it took 20 minutes of me using wild hand gestures and fragments of Chinese (luckily one of the two women could speak Mandarin) to learn that Korean phone companies don’t sell SIM cards. Things didn’t improve after day one. I resorted to pointing when I ordered food in restaurants and bought tickets at the movie theater. Every time I left my hostel, I made sure to bring a card with its address on it in Korean, so I could show it to people if I got lost. Local Koreans also operated under the assumption that I could speak the language. One time, I was at a subway stop with a white friend, and an elderly Korean lady started to ask my friend a question, but upon seeing me, switched gears and asked me instead. I pointed to my friend, indicating that she was the one who spoke Korean, not me. The language barrier made it hard for me to get around the city. But most of all, it made me feel disconnected from my heritage, as though I wasn’t even Korean. Through my bilingual Korean friends, locals would ask me, “If you’re Korean, why can’t you speak it?” My rationale that I grew up speaking English just didn’t cut it. “You’re yellow, shame on you for not knowing an Asian language!” my friend’s dad scolded me (in Korean, of course). When I
visited historical sites with my fellow Korean interns, they’d dismissively say to me, “Oh, this probably isn’t that meaningful to you because you’re not really Korean, so you wouldn’t really understand.” Not only did I feel disconnected from Koreans, but they also felt disconnected from me. What frustrated me most about the language barrier was that I couldn’t interact with the locals. When I’ve traveled in the past, I would always make an effort to talk to the local people so I could hear their personal stories and learn about their customs and culture. I’ve found it to be the most effective form of cultural immersion. But I couldn’t do that this past summer. What was even more disheartening was that I was in a country from which my family came, and I didn’t get to know it because I can’t speak the language. I left Seoul that summer disappointed, feeling I had blown a golden opportunity to acquaint myself with my roots and familiarize myself with the unfamiliar. Moreover, I felt out of touch with my Korean heritage. Prior to my trip, I never realized how closely language and identity are linked. I had simply been proud of my heritage based on the few cultural practices my family had observed, and I participated without really understanding why they are celebrated. At the end of my trip, I learned that identity is more than about culture and customs and skin color; being able to speak your mother tongue also plays an important role. When you grow up in cosmopolitan, diverse melting pots like the US and Singapore, it’s easy to never learn your mother language. But language can help you better understand where you and your family come from. It breaks down barriers and provides the means for you to truly immerse yourself in your own culture. Not knowing the language causes you to lose links with your past. You miss out on communicating with your people. You create a divide between people currently living in your mother country and those living outside of it. This was a huge transformation in my understanding of identity. Without a doubt, I am still proud to be half-Korean. But I realize now that identity is more complex than appearance, culture, and history. Though I left Seoul feeling that my cultural immersion was incomplete, I was also motivated to learn Korean so I could go back and better understand my roots.
Brannon Rockwell-Charland 12
Brand New Shoes by Gbolahan Adeola On the morning my brother would run us to ruin I was wearing brand new shoes. The April rains had just begun and the morningâ€™s air was a potent brew of Ixora and Shea and rich wet soil and Hibiscus pressed and frothed in the spirited showers of the night before. Gray hairs are sloshed by such earthy allure what could a mere boy do? He staggered drunk into the muddy earth, skipped and pranced after roving winds. And when he came to the Mango tree inebriation had drowned inhibition. Her tapering boughs beckoned to him and tens of thousands of verdant lashes fluttered, and beguiled. I glanced out as his palms found her calloused skin I saw him begin to climb I could have run through the mud and moist green grass I could have tried to pull him back but I was wearing brand new shoes.
He would claim later on, not to have heard Ma's call as she hobbled after him. I suppose drunk men are also deaf for inside where I was -above the telly's drone, and the fan's deep whirr I heard her "Get downs" Clear!
I could have run and joined in her frantic shouts I could have tried to get him down but the ground was muddy after last night's rain and I was wearing brand new shoes.
What he heard, he says, was a buzz, a hum before a jolting twinge that forced him to slip sent him crashing down along with all our lives. He must have sobered as he hit the ground, for now he turned his head at Ma's wan screams but from then, that was all he could turn. And for years after that no one at home could afford brand new shoes.
Little Black Girl by Jasmine Adams Little Black Girl…. When you look in the mirror what do you see? The beautiful brown shades of complexity? The beauty of God, shone in thee? Realize that you have self-worth even if there is no he? Little Black Girl….. Why are you afraid to soar? Are you scared that there is nothing more? Know that life is full of so much more… Don’t let any man call you a bitch or a whore… Little Black Girl…. Are you aware? That there’s beauty in the texture of your hair? That you’re not defined by the name brands you wear? That trials and tribulations will take you here & there…. But when you look down at your hand, mine will always be there…. Little Black Girl….. Do you know your worth? That you are not defined by the price of your purse? That in the future you will bring life to this earth…. And I will be there through the whole birth…. Little Black Girl…. Do you know you were my very first friend? I saw the light in your eyes and knew we would never end? Our blood will forever blend…. Our sisterhood is the hottest trend…. Little Black Girl….. You stand tall….. When life throws you unlimited curve balls… Know I will pick you up & carry you when you fall…. From the other black girl who has been through it all…..
Elena Loke 17
Life’s Lemons by Johnny Spinkston, Jr. How could I ever begin to compensate for the lack of attention I’ve paid? I concentrate on the pension of life’s lemons and still the lack of lemonade. I mean… Even if I did make it, would you not confiscate what I made? I don’t mean to complicate the situation, I just wonder. What is there to condensate without any precipitation? Shit, I’m tryna make it rain too, the only difference is that I’m patient. You put change under change and got paid in frustration. Are dimes worth your self-worth, pride, name and reputation? Milkin’ the game like dolla’ signs are a birth given obligation. These dairy air-head ways cloud the truth of its deflation. And don’t say they’ll never give it to you. It’s quite the contrary. They’ll let you have it, but like a genie’s magic your most lavish dreams will seem to be so tragic. It doesn’t add up; and it’s more than bad luck, mathematics, it’s the entire apparatus. It’s sad but, it’s a part us that allows it to function. And if you take a part to take it apart, you’ll see the conjunction. And it’s very malfunction is the power we have. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, I did the math. And most times, the terror made is a product of the error of ours ways. Down the line, who’s to blame for the games that we played? The system? I thought you made the decision to choose hood-fame over wisdom? It’s not a good game, it’s a sick shame, but you picked your own poison. Yeah, the source gave you the options, but did it force your poor choices? I promise, it’s gonna run its full course and it’s gonna devour. Unless of course, we feed our own and use our hunger to empower! I don’t mean to be mean, but I’ll be damned if I’m coward. The system can be beat, if we choose to embrace the power. Life’s lemons are bittersweet; they just taste a little sour.
A Dedication and a Letter by khs A dedication and a letter you transformed my silence into language put
told me to read the legends written beneath their skin your words and your verse p u l s e on every page vibrating with their urgency, trembling in their couplets they are threaded by your voice, leaping from the confines and tumult of periods and dashes and commas taking shape in your vision, painting the iridescence of the intensity of your demands. you know, she writes too. she writes about tatted slanty eyed muscle tee dykes bento box butches and sushi sisters it is not so shiro//kuro anymore she has stories written in ink mixing with her hapa blood black and red, red and black, black and brown, brown and yellow yellow and white
yes, she too writes about liberation.
And I Thought We Left All of This Shit Behind Us by Mayowa Afolayan Perhaps I have brought it upon myself, Not-so-innocently browsing Obie Talk And there it is! Eureka, I have found nigger, that special word that makes Me angry and sad and now I feel like Shit and OMG did someone really say That but I shouldn’t be surprised. Why does the mere fact that I exist Offend you? What makes you feel Like you have the right to insult My people? Why do you think you’re Better than me? But more importantly, Why do I allow you to hold this power Over me and my emotions? I should be able to dismiss you with A wave of my hand, should be able To continue walking with the sway of my hips That you wish you could look away from. But I can’t. Instead, I just feel disappointment. Disappointed in Oberlin, where I was Supposed to be offered peace of mind. Disappointed in myself, for being too Idealistic. For believing that there were Some safe spaces in the world. Please don’t confuse this with the Rants of an angry black woman. I’m just a naïve little girl, who Honestly thought that we left All of this shit behind us.
With Friends, Talking About Assholes by Pa0lo Yumol If you looked anywhere that summer there were always bright blue bus seats singing about the vagabond season, we agreed, and in the basements it was always lampshades of hair, blackened and smoked-out arboretums, assholes who were berry-eyed in the glow. To not be an asshole was a talent. It wasn't a talent like fitting a whole fist in your mouth, we agreed. It was a talent like narcolepsy was a talent, like a flock of nuthatchers wintering was a talent. And then inexplicably, every day, ankle-deep in the pre-sunset swoon, a great big orange talent! But others still kept arguing that the real talent was in jacking off while stoned. We turned down the music and listened, but the incandescent fibers were engaged in their own meticulous pornography, recalling the bruised twilit terrarium; digging up the old names like weeds, slipping the roots out like tongues from the mouths of so many ghostfaced virgins. We laid down, waiting, but for what, to be buttfucked by biology? To watch our friends let their wings get into the wrong hands? Instead, we vied for pregnant pauses. A lighter was flicked in some remote, annoying, incalculable distance. On the rug, we took turns swallowing July. Half of us were playing with our hair, five-sixths of us were laughing at our own jokes, but none of us could hold still. Silently the supernovas began to release their lovesick confetti. The pockets of smoke rose and vanished like gasps. Elsewhere, birds were dropping from our rooftops.
No Title by Pa0lo Yumol I found you pocketed by the snaking ribbon of smoke;; you'd left the stove on;; or a surprised sort of melancholy stasis, wrapped around you like a car around a tree. Like the browned, fragrant absence around the core of a rotting apple.
Down by Pa0lo Yumol I Just back from visiting my grandfather, Arthritic palm of night, moon faucet, Telephone wires festooned across rooftops And matted against dusked sky Like frayed hair against barren scalp, Hilltops swelling underfoot like irritated skin, Fists clotted in either pocket, Aching for bus quarters, And still the birthday gift to worry about, My cousin turning one. II Actually, I got it all wrong, the diseases I mean; One grandfather is perfectly fine, and the other is just dead, Lung cancer, and my father has diabetes, and the girl Who in high school I believed was the love of my life, Her father has a condition I can't even pronounce. It's just that It's easier to make sense of it all one night at a time, As something that can be walked through, Something that can be weathered, Something through which You can make it out alive. And my cousin, She's two, And is Perfectly Healthy.
Abominable by Paolo Yumol And anyway even when my back is to Alice I know she's still on the pavement, looking a lot like the sound of a man yelling into a garbage can, and her eyes don't even have the good common fucking sense to keep their mouths shut. And her dress is still crumpled in a way that forgets her body, She's still wearing her corsage, the orchid rising from her wrist like a tiny white flame. She should really put it out, it occurs to me, and I turn back and suddenly want to make it different, but I don't make a move; I reason that the slap wasn't that hard across her face and the amount of action I got wasn't that impressive. I start heading back, fishing the keys out.
(Yet I feel the need to apologize, but only as you do for taking up too much space in a limousine, for being unable to understand the significance of something as simple and plain as the sound a person makes when they cry, that birdsong of anguish, and then the encumbering lull in atmosphere that follows—)
"Abominable," she calls after me, after I've got one leg in the car, and I can't believe it. The word sounds like landscape, like a valley of pathology. And my muscles start laughing, although it feels nothing like laughter. It’s an indescribable urge, and it climbs quickly, recklessly, unfairly.
(It’s the urge I get to start a fistfight, to remind myself who my father is, all in a swollen airbag of flesh from a face painted with blood.)
She won't stop saying it. I begin to think they could designate a species for every way she says the word, every inflection that screeches or flutters to life. I want to dig them out of my back, I want to scream, but I am looking down, gripping the steering wheel, already in the driveway. And I've been here for ages.
Sophie Umazi Myurva
Passive Aggressive by Sarah Lomax you, i am sick of you sitting on my side of the fence there is a reason i put it up so i didn't have to deal with your redress. you seem so relaxed back turned tongue sharp screaming "Wolf!" out to the whole neighborhood now, before you know it everything is misunderstood. they all speak gossip with their eyes turned on me hands over their lips like i am misfortune what are you now the sweet little token? you know, go ahead, win over all your little cronies but i am not going anywhere so just hush and quit your hoping.
if you don't mind, can you stop hanging out on my fence? you know, when you're done playing Telephone? i think i got the message, "I'm a bitch" hey, thanks for telling it's okay if you hang up now so shut up get down and head back home. you're welcome when you're done playing passive-aggressive in my home.
Lost by Sarah Lomax She was lost. After having spent several hours wandering merrily in her new, spacious backyard, she finds herself caught in the thicket of trees sprawling upward towards the twilight sky, leaves of olive stretching its tips as if to reach for the myriad stars that have settled in for the night. Everything was new, as if this place had been born the day her family moved in – why, she would have never even known the trees she had constantly eyed for the past few days held this much depth to them; that there could really be a sort of miniaturized forest within her grasp. It would be lovelier, if she hadn’t become so anxious “I should’ve taken that flashlight…” The preteen murmurs to herself out of comfort, trying to create the illusion that she is not so very much alone. “Or, maybe a map…” ‘A map, my dear, wouldn’t be terribly effective.’ “!” Filled with sudden fright, she stops her trek in the middle of clear, shallow puddle and clutches tightly onto her ivory scarf, cerulean irises darting in all directions. Who, besides her, was possibly out here? “H-hey…” She whimpers weakly. “N-not cool…who’s out here?” ‘It is only I, my dear.’ Before she can protest further, her question is answered in the form of a solidifying being that rests idly at her side. Its long, flowing body seems to come from the foliage around it, surrounding the girl’s line of vision with its opaque, blanket-esque form and sinewy vines. Only its lanky arms, bony fingers, and and rounded head resemble anything akin to human-kind. Her mouth opens, but only silence surrounds them. Right now, she sits on the fence between happiness and terror – should she be pleased that this funny creature is here? Or unnerved? Both, fit nicely. “I, uh…wh-who are you?” ‘Who am I? Ah, better question would be ‘What’ am I? You see, I, am the Spirit Guardian. I protect this area, the trees, and any natural habitants who make home here.’ Oh. Well, that was definitely a little more comforting, just enough to the point where the girl is comfortable enough to relinquish her grasp on her scarf. ‘And who might you be, curious wanderer?’ “I…uh. Hu-human. I’m human.” ‘Is that what you call yourself by? Human?’ The spirit tilts his head slightly in amusement. She squeaks in response. “N-no! I…I’m Mariana.” ‘Aah. You have a curious name, Mariana, though it is a pleasure to meet you, none-the-less.’ In all this time, the brunette hasn’t really even paid attention to the fact that the spirit need not part its lips in order to speak, or that in the center of its forehead, a soft, yellow glow omits a soft light, enabling the area around her to
become as clear as day. So rapt has she become in their brief engagement that she hasn’t noticed how easy it is to be…relaxed, around the spirit. Was that natural? “Y-yeah…hey, um…do you think…maybe…you can guide me back home? I’m kinda lost…” ‘Guide you home? Do you know what direction your home is?’ Mariana shyly glances back before turning back to the spirit with a whispered ‘no’. “Does that…matter? Do I need the directions to go back if I want to be taken there?” ‘No, no. It is better that you do not know, actually. It’s much easier for me to guide you if you simply allow yourself to wish it.’ “Wish it?” ‘Yes, my dear. You wish to go home, do you not?’ “Yes, I do…” ‘So, then,’ The spirit reaches out, wrapping one hand around the brunette’s pink coat while the other laces their fingers together. ‘You, will guide me. Think very hard about what you want, and I will take you there.’ “O-okay…” She parts her lips for a moment before pursing them and furrowing her delicate brows together. In her mind, she sees a few boxes sitting against the solid, periwinkle wall of their front room – perhaps her mom is busy stirring dinner while her dad rests in front of the newly set up television beside her brother. They are both likely watching that new cartoon together, laughing themselves silly. Her dog, Molly, is idling about on her new bedspread, waiting for the return of her owner. ‘Do you see what you want?’ Mariana nods firmly. ‘Then let me take you back…’ “Wait! I…uh…is this…real? Are you…a dream?” The spirit cocks its head a little more and smiles. ‘I am real as long as you think I am.’ Those words make intuitive sense as the light of the spirit begins to overwhelm the area in a blur of blinding white. She feels herself slowly landing [as if she had been floating with the spirit], hears the dog barking in eagerness at her presence, and sees the lights turning on with more promptness as her mom shouts for her to hurry back inside. Mariana doesn’t believe it to be a dream. Why, for years later, she continued to feel the presence of the spirit watch her whenever she would innocently trek through the forested-like area, knowing that if she ever got lost again, the spirit would guide her back. She didn’t know that in the puddle beneath her that night, there was really no such thing but her feet in cold water. If she had glanced down instead, the spirit would have never existed from the start.
Victoria Velasco 36
Practical by Tony Gardner Why do calculated minds live and prosper While the colorful minds are discouraged and condemned To a fruitless life and an untimely death? Because "calculated" is more practical, that's why. Children don't need construction paper and scissors. Give them neckties, briefcases and oxfords. They won't be pasting dollar bills onto their mortgages after all They won't need sissy paints and brushes in their offices No one wants to be on the street with a guitar and an overturned hat Full of pennies and wasted efforts So let's file our papers and organize our desks Then perfect our pirouettes at home in the basement Where only the walls can see.
Everyday by Tony Gardner where i’m from, you don’t call nobody out of they name. if i say you gon’ respect me and mines, then that’s what you gon’ do. nobody round here got time for them lil childish games. i keep my mouth shut cuz i don’t trust nobody (can’t trust nobody out here) and i keep my eyes open cuz the next dude ain’t got me. i got me ---- just me. me and my God. i ain’t tryna be another body in the paper. i ain’t had a day off in years. you can’t where I’m from. not if you a man and you tryna handle yours, ya feel me? make sure yours is straight. ain’t no love here, just a lotta fire. but if you ever need anything… just let me know. i got you, ya feel me? a man gotta eat out here
Joelle Eliza Lingat 40
Next Stop: _____ by Joelle Eliza Lingat There are no subways here Artificial wind does not unfurl the hem of my skirt A dirt-slicked friend does not scurry by my feet Strands of my staticized hair aren’t clinging to that man’s pea coat in the late night’s cramped car Rather, in this town, we walk We walk through unending swaths of perpetually dewed grass, and somehow, in this openness, we manage to walk on fine lines We balance on the borders of what is in our mind and what is in our soul and the two harshly crash in the black line of our pursued lips as they, almost as if on habit, furl in agreement We grab at notions that secure exclamation points at the end of the sentence but rebuke any that end in a period Statements Our hands are directed starwards as our eyes look deep downward at traces of our ancient railway as they rust away The history we have been born upon has been lost as songs and stories faded into forgotten whistles and dull ink In finding this place with no subways, I have been stalled against the pull of mechanized wheels and instead rely on the unsteadiness of my limbs. But in this unsteadiness, I find myself learning to stand
Malakas & Maganda by Joelle Eliza Lingat Malakas. Malakas means strong. Ma is for man’s metronome. Ticking back and forth, constantly forward. La is for the labor of land. Porous soils that suck freely the blood of man’s toils. Kas is for castling crowns. Kings that wield a hatchet instead of a scepter. Maganda. Maganda means beautiful. Ma is for “Mama”. The call that always finds their ears. Gan is for their grandeur. The grandeur of their internal, perpetual suns, the edges of their rays consistently warm. Da is for dama. The young girls they used to be. The young girls that they left behind. Malakas and Maganda as a myth, however, means something different. Beyond the traditional connotations of the words, I find myself articulating these phrases in different ways. The arch of my tongue begins to curve up towards the roof of my mouth as the protective shelter of these words deteriorate. Malakas. Maganda. The very creation myth that I was brought up with means something completely different for me now. Malakas and Maganda are not the distinctions between man and woman, they are the pieces of us, balanced together. It is honoring the fragility of a stroke while also having the courage to jostle. It is striking the brown of a coconut husk and cradling its sweet milk in scarring hands. It is standing up when told to sit down and sitting down when the lure of standing up is too strong. Because at the end of this new kind of day we’ll all have to be both malakas and maganda.
Portraits of an Asian Male
Simple Guy by Tony Mosley Enjoying the night sky with only a subtle kiss of light on that night I realized there was more to life than fast cars and movie stars but shooting stars and constellations I realized that the city life is great and there are a lot of attractions, but the thing that I got attached to was no longer present that thing was nature's beauty and depth nature calls to me as the morning sky calls for the sun, and the night sky calls for the moon and stars picturing something so vivid and elaborate that I wished to just be able to sit back and marvel at its beauty that beauty lead me on this night to write about the beauty of this sight this is not a poem or made up thoughts of something unreal but the thoughts of a young man who wants to see something so much greater in life than meaningless possessions
My Life by Tony Mosley my life is like a never ending movie better yet like “The Never Ending Story” constantly changing for the better and the worse more chances and but fewer options I wish I had more say so but I am only a mere puppet playing my role in this story called life It's not just my life but your life his and her life their lives our lives I say our lives because anything someone else does affects the course of someone else's life To put it plain Sir Issac Newton stated, “for each action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Meaning your actions have a reaction that may shape the form of my actions and vice versa So whoever told you we are not all connected that is a visible lie but it is not obvious to all It's a lie at its simplest form something so obvious that people believe it as the truth So if we are not connected why do we have emotions? Emotions are the things you feel from anything you come in contact with Do you get it now? We are all trapped in this endless game of tug of war but most don't know this because the ropes are invisible and only if you question this theory will you be able to see the truth To be continued.....
Like Father Like Son by Tony Mosley people tell me I look like you from my smile to my eyes to my eyebrows but deep inside we are not one in one hand youâ€™re a misogynistic controlling individual where I would rather look for companionship in the spiritual and mental not physical or idealistic you chose to travel the road most traveled where I chose the lesser out of the two you made your path and I made mine a father and a son though we are different I see what people saw now I feel myself being tugged at with your lustful and violent tendencies We both affect the people around us dramatically I learned this when it was too late Even though I still try my best to not be like you I feel myself falling into your image People look at us as if we are one in the same but I still cannot come to terms with that to me we are at different ends of the spectrum but connected through the things we share Though I realize this now I still think we are the way we should be separated
Sovereignty (Within and Without) by Anaïs Francis Stewart Great Grandpa on one side is from Puerto Rico. Great great great great Grandma on the other side is Cherokee. Both sides are also black. African-American. I hear a lot of people talk about going back to their “homeland” either through study abroad or some other means. Talk about connecting with their roots and getting away from this American influence. Well for me, my roots are still firmly under American influence. I am African-American. Black American. Afro-American. American Negro. But one thing remains the same throughout the labeling: American. Over 12,500 EBCI live in the Qualla Boundary of North Carolina (or the Cherokee Reservation). Yes, there is a casino. Yes, there is a museum. And yes “full blooded” Cherokee people live in the area. No, they did not walk the Trail of the Tears. In a nutshell, they told the US Army hell no. They operate as a sovereign nation. A sovereign nation..... within the boundaries of the United States. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. A territory of the United States. Citizens, but not able to vote for the POTUS. A commonwealth much like Virginia, yet not a state. Local autonomy, but the United States is ultimately still the sovereign. What is sovereignty, autonomy, identity, heritage? I haven’t had to fill out a box to label myself in a while, and I am not sure what box(es) I would check now. A box. It’s so....square. Doesn’t suit me at all. But a circle wouldn’t work either. Because there will always be something left out. I will just stick with being me, in whatever shape I’m in at the moment. Anything else just wouldn’t make sense.
Yvette Chen 50
Race-ing Desire by Rachel Ishikawa Although my romantic entanglements to this day remain a short list, I cannot deny that race invariably becomes a factor in each relationship that I have. With my untraditional racial identity - Jewish/Asian - I find that I am always in an interracial relationship, no matter what race my partner is. From the start of college with my first prolonged fling, race has played the passenger, a sort of haunting that has followed all of my romantic decisions since. Shortly after declining my first fling’s request for a more serious and exclusive relationship, I noticed him jaunting with a young woman, who - like me - was petite, nose-ringed, and most perturbingly half-asian. Abjectly, my mind wandered to a question that I think many women of color face when involved interracial relationships: am I a desired “type?” With every subsequent relationship, my asian-ness, and more specifically my bi-raciality, has at one point or another become the focus. Someone once confessed to me his innate attraction to half-Asian women, and to this day his racialized desire still haunts me. In fact, such racialized desire is one of my largest fears: that someone will love me for my appearance, and more specifically what my appearance historically and socially represents, rather than for who I am. After several ensuing incidents including a man telling me he likes Asian women during an intimate moment, and a friend encouraging me to pursue a boy because he has a “thing for Asian girls”, I became obsessed with this highly male focused Asian fetish. I became consumed by the infatuation itself. After reading a handful of work on sexuality and desire in the spirit of race, I began noticing distinct trends that have permeated through our history as women of color, and my history as an Asian American. Like the stories, traditions, and beliefs that are passed down from generation to generation, stereotypes reciprocate in the American social memory. Kumiko Nemoto, author of Racing Romance, discerns this trend with an unmatchable efficiency. Following the relationships of several couples involved in Asian/white intimacies, Nemoto maps out the trajectory of stereotypes rooted in Lotus Blossom imagery, Confucian stereotypes, Orientalism, and hoard of other factors ranging from perceptions of citizenship to our understanding of nationhood. These images, now reworked, still remain embedded in our social consciousness as attractive attributes for a partner. After being vehemently objected by two white male friends, one whom is dating an half-Asian woman, when discussing my outlook on my own romantic history in the context of the larger Asian American narrative, I have concluded how grossly misunderstood human desire truly is. I realize I cannot rely entirely on the continuum of history to explain racialized desire (physical lust most be factored as well as well as contemporary culture), yet in my mind it is clear that it has a huge role. The personal is political: our actions have social consequences that are backed by the map of history. With that being said, my own desire must be considered as well. I must question why I have dated more white partners than any other race. What does this say about my perception of white privilege? What does this say about my perception of socially valued and acceptable partnerships? As Nemoto suggests, the ethics of our desires (of all people) should be evaluated. Surely, looking into our most intimate relationships will lead to a better understanding of the intricacies and intimacies of our own social constructions. Perhaps from there, from what is revealed in questioning our own desires, we can find a greater understanding of our society, and thus create a pathway for social change.
My Patient Love, I Will Wait by Anonymous This love is not exciting. This love is not extravagant. This love is not even known. This is the constricted love of the rope of a circus performer, sustaining a being by one single coil. Balancing, tipping, but never falling into the abyss of the crowd. This is the gentle love of snow snuggling against the tip of your nose. Melting, being absorbed into the pores of your skin and percolating into your nerves, sending a chill throughout your body that reverberates to your curls of your hair. This is the quiet love of a city under darkness. When the lights have gone off and you canâ€™t tell if your eyes are open or closed because thereâ€™s just one shade of bleakness before you. When you rely on listening to the slightest bat of your eyelids to give you some sort of grounding and affirmation that you exist. This is the curious love of stolen glances and peeking over the rims of your glasses to catch my gaze. Admiring your blurred figure through my forced periphery, trying to steal one more look at you before I have to turn away, before I reveal too much. This is the tactile love of freshly-watered soil, caressing the contours of the earth, your fingers wrinkling in the damp of what is, what was, and what is to be. It is the soft cotton of your washcloth and the streak of dirt that refuses to be wiped away. This is a quiet love. This is a timid love. This is my patient love.