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In Solidarity

spring 2012


Contributors: Chekwube Arinze - Broken Language Tiesha Cassel - There’s Nothing Like the Brain of a Beautiful Girl When they Grasp the Fallacy of the World: Claiming Fatness as Identity Angus Chen - Woman Michelle Jahnke Raygada - Some Fragments of Myself Anonymous - My Landscape Lexy Phillips - Sister Wes Ruiz - Born Bad Lexy Phillips - A Response Caitlin O’Neil - Dearest Rebecca / Odessa Speaks (collaboration with Rebecca DeWitt (drawing))

Editors: Graduating: Maya Iverson Raven Davis Melissa Elie Continuing: Lexy Phillips Joelle Lingat


In Solidarity Thalia Harris - Bonesetter on Lenox Stephen Scott - T.O.S.S. Part II Curtis Cook - Rap Haiku’s 1-4 Maya Iverson - Dawn Angelique Boyd - Choosing to be Blind Alej Wundram - Come Back, Forget

Photos

Brannon Rockwell-Charland - Ibo 1

Chiemela Ubagharaji - Sunset Sky view unedited photos at ocinsolidarity.tumblr.com


Broken Language Chekwube Arinze these pikin wey no sabi notin, sef only recently I learned that my mother’s voice is peculiar only for the force of it hard as egwugwu drums talking these children don’t know anything about the elegance of tongues that flip and fork and toss back the bitter lumps of rotted language

while foreign hands of this country wash the sea smell from the children and offer us swollen grammar to give as poison into our father’s ears

it comes too easy, the distance sends us riding on the deafening drone of separation

In Solidarity


There’s Nothing Like the Brain of a Beautiful Girl When They Grasp the Fallacy of the World: Claiming Fatness as Identity Tiesha Cassel The importance of being able to label ourselves is constant. This is because of the ways that our many environments label us. This somehow simple looking task is one that can, in its nature, be liberating. It is an act of ownership of the self that the rest of society has had for so long. So for me what comes up is how important it is for those who are fat to identify has such. It’s not just about reclaiming the word fat, but it is also about being able to validate one’s lived experience. When adding fatness to identity you are adding it to history. There is history, community, struggle, and more things that can be understood through exploring fatness as identity. As fat people there is more of a pull towards understanding where we stand, and why there are more parts of our history in which our bodies are hated, than parts where they are loved. For some us that are a part of progressive politics, we wonder why our partners in the fight have yet to come in solidarity with us. Not only have they not come to fight with us, but they have generalized our bodies as the enemy, failing to understand how that type of rhetoric places us once again in the margins. When looking at the framing of the fat body it is clear that our experiences as people of size

aren’t viewed as valid. This could be because of several reasons. One is that fat is seen as a luxury. What I mean by that is that fat is seen as a choice in a way that race, gender, and sexuality tend not to be. But fat isn’t just a choice. As a fat person I don’t get the choice to say I would rather be skinny. I know that the manipulation of the fat body can be easily used against my writing. The thing is that the way our bodies look are just as diverse as the personalities they hold, and the lives lived with in these bodies. By failing to acknowledge this understanding, we will constantly shape fat bodies as bad bodies. And that’s the thing I’ve now come to realize, it isn’t bad to be fat. It’s just hard to live fat in society. It doesn’t matter if one is proud or not. Your body will be used to judge your basic character, importance, what you have the right too. If we were talking about any other way to self identify within the margins, it would be easy to claim a revolution and liberation. The thing with being fat is no one cares to hear the cries for freedom. Why is it that as a woman of color I can both identify as such and work towards that liberation? But when I claim my fatness as mine, as good, and as part of my search Spring 2012

for liberty, I’m even laughed at by my own peers in similar struggles. When claiming fatness as a part of ones oppression there aren’t many people meeting fat bodies in solidarity. Why not? It’s so easy to see that the portrait of the fat body has had much effect on our society. Fat people are seen as lazy. Our bodies medicalized in such a negative way. There is a whole weight loss complex that exists only because of the many parts working to make sure that all fat bodies feel useless, but also the false hope of thinness. What this means is that being thin is painted as the moment in which one can live. We as fat people buy into this false hope. We don’t eat enough, we work out in unhealthy ways, we allow our bodies to be surgically abused, and in the end enter into a lesser, and hopeless cycle to a body that isn’t ours. The world won’t allow us the simply claim to love ourselves.. In claiming a fat identity one is choosing to live as is. And it is not a giving up, but instead a coming in to an identity and narrative in one’s life that the world has told you doesn’t exist. When asked how do I identify I now say as a fat women of color. I finally get the chance to say that my fat-


ness has been apart of my lived experienced. Being fat connects me to another part of my history that I no longer want to deny. In saying that I’m not only fat, but also proud of that is to slowly chip away at the social norms of defining what a body should look like.

“Woman”

I’m saying that if some miracle happens (like all oppression disappears) and I’m living in a world where I’m no longer oppressed by race, class, gender, and other systems of oppression, and fat phobia still exists, then I’m not free. To be fat is to exist within a system of oppression, to live in the margins. For me

claiming fatness as apart of who I am is an acceptance of the current situation. Understanding the system in which I play oppressed and oppressor also comes into play when I begin to understand what my identity means to me. I’m fat and that is whatever I want it to be.

Woman

angus r. chen!

WOMAN is a sto ne column of a word

it stands an old temple, rigid in its formality

or on the portal to a courthouse, haughty for its unyielding

and yet soft, stretching, sweeping upwards like roofs of a home

* font changed at author’s request

holding strong like stone columns.

In Solidarity


Some Fragments of Myself

Michelle Jahnke Raygada

If I could have had a say, if I could have sat down with Creator before They brought me into this cruel and beautiful world, I would have asked to be dark. I would have asked for deep mahogany skin; for wide dark brown eyes; for jet-black hair that, try as they might, the sun’s rays could never lighten; for plump brown lips and a curvy bodacious brown body. I would have asked for the gift of Historia: however bloody, oppressive, and full of pain the last 500 years may have been, I would always have the gift of knowing without a doubt that I come from an ancient and proud Cultura; I would never have to hesitate when asked who I am and where I come from—and in this I would find strength, in this I could take refuge. So who do I blame for how it actually turned out? Do I shake an indignant fist at the heavens? Do I shout about the injustice of having a mom who never realized it was important to explain what it means to be mixed? About having a good-for-nothing gringo father who abused us and left us when I was twelve, never needing to acknowledge the privileges and burdens his blonde blue-eyed whiteness has bestowed upon my brother and me? Do I turn my frustration on all those people who constantly try to put me in a box? Assuming I’m Mexican; or not really thinking about what I am because they read me as “just

like everyone else” (aka white); or screwing up their faces to say, “What are you?” or asking if I’m Iranian or Japanese or a million other things? Do I simply marvel at the incredible variety that people see in my features? Yes and no. I don’t know. But it’s gotten to the point where I can’t look in the mirror without hating what I see. So let’s clear this up once and for all (and you better listen up good cus this is the last time you’ll ever hear me say it. Cus I am struggling to shed the need to affirm myself for you): I am Brown, I am my momma’s daughter, I am a low-income scholarship student, I have lived in five different states, I am not a first generation college student, but when my mom was getting her teaching degree while I was in middle school I used to help edit her English grammar for her assignments; thanks to a full scholarship I do not (yet) have any debts of my own but I will probably inherit the debts she accumulated getting that degree. I have not seen my abusive father since I was twelve but because of him I am still white, a mix of I don’t even know what-all Europeanness. And though I have never lived outside the US and did not grow up speaking much Spanish I am still Peruvian. My family who live in Peru come in all shades, at testament to our mixed-up history of indigineity, of colonization, of African Spring 2012

and indigenous slavery, of rape, of all kinds of consensual love, of immigration, of denial denial denial. And this means I have no way of knowing what I actually am. I have no simple answer to your probing questions or your disbelief. As of right now, I have no name for myself. I do not know what identity to claim I do not know how to be everything at once and yet somehow every day that’s what I am. How can I be anything other than myself? But it’s easier to forget this truth than to remember it when I don’t feel like I fully fit in with the white groups I have been part of and at the same time am not fully able to call myself brown or fit into groups of color without feeling a guilty tug at my heart, as though I’m not telling the full truth about myself. I can’t tell if this exclusion stems from my own insecurities or from the times I have been told there is something not quite white about me and not quite brown enough either. Fuck! Most of the time I’m not sure if I feel like a whole person, and I’m not sure I ever have. I only know that I did not ask to be any of this. I know that I do not fit neatly into any of your boxes, but oh how I have tried. I do not know how to be proud of any of this. I do not know how to own all of these fragments rattling around inside


myself, how to piece them together into a picture that makes sense. I do not know how to love ALL of myself. But I am trying anyway. Because (as Donna Kate Ruskin so wisely put it) “the bridge I must be is the Bridge to my own power.” I find power in myself in those rare moments when I feel whole in my fragmentation. Every day is a struggle to be the most powerful version of myself, someone who knows where she

comes from—everywhere—and owns all the different pieces of herself. Someone who never lets anyone else tell her what she is or who she should be. Someone who does not feel the need to justify or explain her dark hair with natural blond streaks, her enigmatic skin and eyes, her wide nose. Who doesn’t wish to be the biggest or the best or the leader, but carries herself and her loved ones with grace and humility. Who recognizes that sometimes she needs to be carried too. Someone who speaks for herself. A warrior woman

who flows when she walks, who is grounded in her history, in her Cultura (a mosaic created out of fragments, anything that resonates with her). Who draws her power from her connections to the world, to her community, to her family, and to her own self. Who expresses that power both when she sits down to listen and when she stands up to fight. Who can look in the mirror and get down with that bad beautiful self of hers.

My Landscape Anonymous I come from the landscape of the vast savannah. Rolling green grass I ran through as a child and distant, rich and fertile forests I have yet to visit. There are millions of species of trees, bright birds, fish, mammals, and insects, though you cannot such an observation in the city. The U.S.-owned power plants and business buildings juxtapose the beaches providing a cool and unwelcoming atmosphere. The landscape will subside. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets makes up for this. The edges of the land that comes right before the sea that comes right before the sea are not natural, but man-made. The sea always comes back with fervor to take away the land than never belonged. Eventually, all will be sea. The mountains are deep green and rich with life, sprinkled with lazy and upright homes. There are city hills and bustling cars, colorful homes, and dull ones on verge of collapsing. The moment I enter this landscape, I smell the thick scents of foods, drinks, and something still curious but homey. The source of income is fishing and farming in rural areas and service and industry related jobs in the city. The gap between the rich and the poor is stark and can be seen in one 15-minute drive, yet poverty is relative almost anywhere you go. In one photo snapshot can capture all of these landscapes first colonized by Spain in the sixteenth century and Britain later. The African, East Indian and Chinese presence makes for a delicious and sometimes contentious cultural mix. The peaceful Hindu temple and monuments on the coast, the best food quite possibly in the world, and the mostly black neighborhoods in the center of the city all characterize this beautiful landscape I call home.

In Solidarity


Sister Lexy Phillips

we always leave for a reason. pulling on the essential layers before opening and closing doors without a sound.

I wish I had known what we were for each other. we were twin life rafts, we were seeing-eye dogs, we were two

this place is better for me, but I still hold drinks in my hands and think about our younger selves.

raindrops racing down a windshield, we are. we would have been house slaves together, illegitimate and loving.

that building wasn’t right for me. high school turned me into something friendly and exotic.

half hiding behind fingers, I told you that I finally knew what I was, and you had known for some time now.

I know that it’s even worse for you. they hated that you were willing to shave your head in the sixth grade.

you knew it took more than a mirror to know your skin, and you told me this when I came back home.

in the cafeteria, that boy called you a nigger and another one asked why pubic hair grew on my head.

at the end of the night your brown and my brown collapsed comfortably on the couch.

why didn’t we notice how wrong things were until we heard about that moment of panic--

I am telling you go farther faster sooner, my way of loving is to leave and hope that you can do the same.

a race riot started at a basketball game. spectators from both sides flooded the court over a slur.

Spring 2012


Born Bad Wes Ruiz

Most likely this is hell and most likely I deserve to be here. My sister says I’ll get out one day and I even pray sometimes that I will. My mother prays too. For me and for my people… because half of this is smarts and the other half is luck. The 174th street station. Dirty. Full of clanking metal. A picture of the urban hell that has eaten me up, threatening to swallow if I don’t thrash hard enough to keep myself afloat. The urban hell in the movies. But I know that it’s a vibrant community of perpetual resistance, the tired brown faces, the sidewalks as broken as their hearts. The brown faces, the brown resistance, the subway station and cracked sidewalks. Our heads held high still. My people, the survivors. Its hard to imagine the people, once full of energy, once hopeful and driven, not angry like the abandoned masses forgotten in the war, not drowning in discouraged hearts and ignored intelligence. The 174 street station. The chipped paint on the pillars holding up the tracks. My window on the same plane as the passing trains. The street below that’s always in shadow. Always in shadow. I don’t know who decides who stays and who goes. There’s nothing that I did. I was born

bad. One stroke of luck here, one there. One day I was crossing the street to go to school, the next I was walking to the 174th street station, getting on a train and riding far, far away from the Bronx. It might’ve been all the times I wanted to tell Cristal I thought she was beautiful in fourth grade, but didn’t because I didn’t want to get beat up by her boyfriend. It might’ve been the times I saw a white person walking in our neighborhood and got scared that we’d get kicked out of our homes so they could move in. It might have been the days when I looked into the mirror, surprised each time to see someone I didn’t know, filled with rage and sadness. Maybe I wasn’t meant to get out. Maybe it was a fluke. Maybe someone else’s name was called out and I walked up instead, dazed and confused. Or maybe they thought that if I would have stayed, I would’ve contaminated the whole neighborhood with my deviance. But I think fate has no eyes. It throws fishing hooks out of subway cars and drags with it the first thing that it catches. It could’ve been anyone else. Someone stronger than I am to go off into a strange world where I’m even more invisible than I am at home. Where some want to fight to save the world and others need to fight the urge to break down every time someone makes In Solidarity

a spectacle out of them. Sometimes you get used to the lonely and sometimes you get used to the lonliness, if you are ignored for long enough, in enough places, it starts feeling like you shouldn’t even be there. Anywhere. It was a job. Employed by everyone, rewarded by no one. Sometimes I wondered if it would be better if I just quit. Walked around with the same tired face, the same emotionless stare. The same feeling of hopelessness. Facing each other on the subway trains as If we were looking past mirrors. I once told my life story to a mirror. I want to be Where I can smell grass Where I can feel whole But I’m me. I always used to joke That one day I’d jump Out of my window and onto the tracks And ride the train as if it were the loudest thunder To a place where I would be heard.


And my words shot back at me, reflected in my mirror. Hitting my face and suffocating me until they escaped out of the open window behind me. Trailing behind the train as it barrels ahead into the distance. Maybe they thought I would be good for the job. Maybe they knew I would eventually dete-

riorate, and they could get rid of me that way. The kid who wanted to be a kid, instead of hating his body since he could remember, instead of keeping secrets no one else ever had to keep. Maybe I was born to add to the dying, instead of the living. And then I go to the houses on the hill and I’m alone

And then I go to home to the tired brown faces and we’re all alone, waiting in the 174th street station. BASED ON THE VIGNETTE “BORN BAD” FROM HOUSE ON MANGO STREET BY SANDRA CISNEROS

A Response Lexy Phillips

graffiti isn’t hard enough to erase from the walls of our library when it is scrubbed shiny-whiteenamel-bone-clean from our minds in a class period these kids make me want to swallow a bullet against this building of knowledge so maybe a white hand will raise into the air, pry open the mouth that belongs to its face and whisper, maybe we were wrong about race here yesterday ii saw guilt arm wrestle pain to the ground and bludgeon its back with a shackle pain lay there drinking in its own sensation bleeding out static mantras of next year it will be better, it’ll be next year better, next year it’ll better be…ii cut open my temple and laid pain to rest there Spring 2012


Dearest Rebecca (Odessa Speaks) Caitlin O’Neil

I have sat with this image for many days and feel each glance, study, short work of it has produced something new There are times when I see it and feel strong renewed or in progress reminded of the unconventional beauty of life (death even) and the painful but sometimes exciting process of puttingonesselfbacktogether again this time however I am enraptured by the continuing discovery or illusively of mouths Dearest Rebecca The eye speaks loudest most times perhaps because I tend to see myself in its reflection and it is a mirror in the purest sense revealing and unearthing before burying again Then the toes are there also loud those early mornings when I smell fresh bedding and Saturday morning sun creeping through windows squealing children feeling mother’s fingers chasing up and down the slope of the tippiest of toes and all the way back around to the heel And again quiet on those late nights the tiny exhalations of baby’s breath when fathers gather around the bedding of their children like it is a holy sanctuary the tiny feet some embodied sacred covenant that they must reach out and touch In Solidarity


to know that it is real, and that the universe spirals on expanding endlessly while ever so subtly shrinking until this moment is a minute and a life time long Now the nose sniffiling in concert with everything else cold and wet with tears and blood mucus thick with the despair of human frailty and failure some constant flaring reminder that we must give as much as we take or we will fall cold and dormant plucked off by the playful, careless twitch of someone’s forefingers asking, where’s your nose? (while the ears sit back, stolid and unmovable, but quite aware of everything else going on) Dearest Rebecca the sound is there the words the power of them the raw power of speech but I’m having trouble encountering the mouth can you help me find it? could you point it out to me next time you visit maybe paint it red I dare say I see the briefest impression of it arcing across the bottom most right of the figure and it makes me wonder if the figure a feminine spirit I suppose or impose, (if you’ll let me) it makes me wonder if the figure that I have come to call Odessa has a mouth and if she who has or hasn’t a mouth or a full one at least speaks and at first I had intended Spring 2012


In Solidarity


fully to pose to you a question to title this letter from the start DOES ODESSA SPEAK? To which I was sure you would have to have a damn good answer after all, you are the author and the finisher the alpha and omega the decider of Odessa’s fate Or aren’t you? Dearest Rebecca, Could it be that you have released her unleashed her on the world in a sense given birth to what might be and become instead of what is and what was and does this mean then that you do not decide her fate that her fate is hers to decide alone (what a great and faithshaking responsibility) what a thing to behold that you might love her enough to let her go and be and do independent and yet so intimately a part of you Dearest Rebecca, Is she you? is the stretch of the bridge of her nose your own? is the slightly protruding cheekbone more familiar to me than I first thought many moons ago? is this what you see when you look in the mirror? or perhaps what you see flickering over the breaking surface of running water Does it matter? Dearest Rebecca, Everywhere I go I see her it is her face that haunts me and yet infuses me with joy she is everywhere and no where

Has this happened to you yet? Spring 2012


Dearest Rebecca Remember when I asked you DOES ODESSA SPEAK? You did not answer but she did She does not speak or she does perhaps not how I imagined but I seenowhearnow that which I did not before She sings Rebecca She sings like a bird or like the wind whistling through the trees like a child discovering the beauty of the world She sings like it is the first time like she is the first (wo)m(b)an and everything is a wonder She is not wounded but she is not innocent either she has seen all that the world has to offer but she still sings and Rebecca Dearest Rebecca, Isn’t that the point?

In Solidarity


Bonesetter on Lenox Thalia Harris

I wasn’t supposed to be outside that day. I was running around the block with my best friend Leticia. We were playing the obligatory childhood game of tag, until I tripped and hurt my ankle. Even though I’m crying on the asphalt, Leticia was hesitant to call for help because she didn’t wanna get me in trouble. Eventually, Miss Shirley, one of the older ladies who lived on the block walked by and saw us on the ground with me wailing. “Nina!” she said to me. “Ain’t you supposed to stay in the house when your daddy’s at work?” “Y—yes,” I said between sniffles. “Then why you outside?” We all knew why--because I wanted to. But I didn’t wanna seem fresh to Miss Shirley, so I stayed silent. “You gotta get home,” said Miss Shirley. She then cut her eyes at Leticia. “You’re coming with us.” Leticia silently nodded. Miss Shirley picked me up in her soft arms, and peeked over her thick, coke-bottle glasses to look at my face, streaked with tears. Her face was gentle and slack, but her gaze told me that I’d have a lot of explaining to do.

After examining my face for a few moments, she carried me back to my apartment building, and we waited for my father to come home. A half-hour later, Daddy came home and panicked when he saw me in Miss Shirley’s arms. He ran up to us and asked, “Oh my God, what happened?” I couldn’t see his eyes underneath his shades, but he would tell me later that they were wide with worry. I couldn’t hear his heart beat, but later in life he would tell me he was damn near close to an arrhythmia. “Nina decided she wanted to go play with her little friend and ended up hurting her ankle,” said Miss Shirley.

Miss Shirley scoffed. “The girl didn’t even apologize.” “Doesn’t matter. Her saying sorry wouldn’t fix my daughter’s ankle,” my father replied as he hung his head. At the time, Daddy had been working parttime in customer service for the past three years, since I was five, but they still wouldn’t give him benefits. “My godson can help you,” offered Miss Shirley. “Is he a doctor?” “No…he studied at a chiropractic school briefly before he got expelled.” “Expelled for what?”

My father took off his shades to look at me. My eyes were bloodshot from bawling.

Miss Shirley looked at me with suspicion, then motioned to my father to lean in. She whispered something in his ear and my dad said,

“Baby, why didn’t you wait till I came home? It’s still light out.”

“Hell no! I’m not bringing her to him! Does he still do that?”

I shook my head. I was so afraid he’d be mad at me I didn’t know what to say. All I did was reach out for him to hold me.

Miss Shirley’s face slowly fell.

Daddy shook his head and took me into his arms. “Go home, Leticia. “ She was all too happy to do so. Spring 2012

“Damn it…sorry,” he said to me about his cursing. I didn’t care. I was just happy he wasn’t mad at me. “Trust me, he feels guilty,” said Miss Shirley. “So he gives chiropractic services free of charge.”


“He didn’t finish school though.” “I wouldn’t recommend him if I didn’t trust him.” Daddy looked at me one more time, and then said, “If he messes it up, there’ll be problems.” Miss Shirley drove us to a brownstone on the corner of 139th and Lenox, bigger than we had ever seen on our own street. It was a reddish brownstone, with wolf statues on either side of the marble stoop. “This is it. Tell him I sent you, and he should give you no problems,” she said.

father we went inside the backyard. “I don’t know what I’d do if—“

a great CRACK and my ankle was back where it was supposed to be.

“I don’t mean to be rude, “said the man. “But I don’t really have time to talk. Set her down over there.” He pointed to a beige picnic table, the only piece of furniture in the backyard. I imagined his house was much nicer than what I was glancing at.

I looked up to see the man covered in sweat, as he walked away from the table.

The man walked over to the table and stood on the side of it, while Daddy came around the other side and put me on the tabletop. I looked up to see both of them standing over me.

“Bring her back next Wednesday,” he said as he headed back to the house. On the day I was supposed to go back to the man’s house, Daddy had to pull a late shift, so Miss Shirley took me there because it was on her way to Bible study. She dropped me off in front of the stoop. “You behave now,” said Miss Shirley.

“What’s your name?” the man asked me.

“If anything happens, you do what he says, hear?”

“Feel better, Nina,” she said to me. Then she pulled off.

“Nina,” I whispered. Even though he had a gentle vibe, I thought back to Daddy’s fears earlier.

“Yes, Miss Shirley.”

With me in tow, Daddy approached the door and rang the buzzer.

“That’s a nice name. Where does it hurt, Nina?”

Click. “Yeah?” said a young male voice on the intercom.

I pointed to my ankle.

I marched up the stairs and rang on the buzzer.

“Can you move it at all?”

Click. “Who is this?” asked the man.

I moved it a little bit, until I shrieked in pain.

“This is Nina. You fixed my ankle last week, but I had to come back.”

“Shh, shh,” the man said, resting a hand on my ankle as Daddy took my hand. The man gently squeezed my ankle, and stopped at the slight protrusion underneath my skin.

“Oh yeah.”

“Thanks,” said Daddy. Miss Shirley nodded.

“My daughter’s ankle is hurt badly. Your godmother said you could help me out.” There was a pause. “Go around back.” Click. We went around to the back gate, which was guarded by a man even bigger than my dad. Plus, he was lot more intimidating. We waited until a medium-height mocha-skinned man, wearing a plain white tanktop and baggy jeans approached from the other side of the gate. “Ease up,” he said to the guard. He immediately backed off, allowing the man to open the gate for us. “Thank you so much, man,” said my

“Well, it’s not broken,” he said. “It’s dislocated. I have to pop it back in.” “Are you sure?” The man did not answer. The next thing I remember, I experienced a surge of blinding hot pain as the man proceeded to pop my ankle back into place. This agony lasted for a good few minutes until I heard

She then drove off and left me standing in the brownstone’s shadow, as the sun was setting.

“Do you want me to come through the back again?” “Nah, I’ll buzz you in.” Bzzz. The door unlocked and I pushed it open. A huge cloud of smoke hit my face as I entered the foyer and saw men smoking Black and Milds in the living room as they played poker. Young, scantily clad women were either in their laps or standing behind them, flipping their hair and popping gum as they cheered their men on. I continued to walk down


the hallway, until a woman dressed in tight-fitting jean capris, and a yellow bomber jacket stopped me and asked, “Whatchu doin’ in here?” “I…I’m here to get my ankle fixed by the man…” Yeah, after meeting this guy and knowing he was Miss Shirley’s godson, I still didn’t know his name. “Oh, I got you. Up the stairs, second door to the right.” I climb the stairs, and go to the appropriate door. I knock on it, and the man opened it. He smiled. “Come on in, Nina.” I walked in and looked around. The walls were made of hardwood and there was a suede, dark green couch in the far right corner of the room. Behind his steel desk, two posters were mounted on the wall: a chart of the human nervous system, and a black-and-white poster of an intense-looking man with the word “SCARFACE” written in red below him. “Come over here,” the man commanded as he pulled out a chair. I sat down in it as he knelt in front of me. “Take off your shoe and sock.” I did as I was told and the man took my foot into his palm and lightly touched my ankle. “The swelling went down,” he noted. “Can you flex your foot for me?” I flexed it with ease. He smiled once more. “Good job, now—“ Two of the men from downstairs busted through the door and interrupted us.

“Yo, we got a problem.” The man who was taking care of me looked up. “Someone jacked our boys down on Convent. Took all our pills—“ he stopped talking when he saw me. “Hey there, little mama.” “Hi…” I managed to whisper. He looked over to the man who was taking care of me, with a confused look on his face. “Don’t worry about her,” said the man taking care of me as he reached on the small table next to us and picked up a silver remote. He pressed a button and a small section of the hardwood wall did a 360 to reveal a cabinet. He then opened to cabinet to reveal a bunch of guns stacked up. My eyes grew as big as his balled up fist. My heart was pounding strong like the bass line still playing downstairs. Big guns, small guns. He reached for a small revolver and tucked it in the back of his jeans. He looked at the men by the door and told them to wait downstairs. After they left, he glanced over to me and knelt down once more so we would be eye-to-eye. “Nina, I gotta take care of something, but I should be back in an hour. If I’m not back by then, my godmother’s cell number is in my address book on top of my desk. Call her and she should pick you up.” I nod. “What about my ankle?” He thought for a moment. “Try to spell the alphabet by moving your ankle around, so it doesn’t get stiff,” he said as he sat down, picked up his right foot and moved his ankle around in motions that somewhat

resembled the letters A, B and C. “Got it?” “Yes,” I said. “Cool.” He then hopped up and walked over to the door. “Why do you need a gun, sir?” I blurted out. I regretted it immediately. He took a deep breath, trying to figure out how he could articulate something so heavy to an eightyear-old. “Somebody hurt my employees, and I have to take care of them.” “If they’re hurt, can’t you just call the police?” I asked. He chuckled. “It’s probably not a good idea to get the police involved. It’s best to help yourself.” “Is that why you fixed my ankle for free? Because you don’t wanna get the doctor?” “That was your father who didn’t, or rather, couldn’t get a doctor.” “It’s too much money, “ I said. “Yeah, I know. But I really gotta go. Remember, if I’m not back—“ “Call Miss Shirley.” “Atta girl,” he said nodding in approval. His tender face then went cold and he walked out the door. My eyes were fixed on the door for a few seconds, and then I looked back at the nervous system chart and SCARFACE poster hanging up side-by-side. They don’t go together, but they do. I began to spell the alphabet with my ankle.


T.O.S.S part II Stephen Scott KEY: CC = Captain Commander Zeus Yamamoto C.H. = Captain Neytiri Harris C.T.D = Captain Tristan Davis C.B. = Captain Brunson C.M.C.: Captain Mosantos Carreras C.C.D. = Captain Clinese Davis L.G./A.G. = Lieutenant Apollo Guzman Dancer/L.P. = Lieutenant Patton C.K.B. = Captain Kuchiki Byukuya Prequel One hundred years has passed and C.C. has taken the liberty to place Captain Clinese Davis in the Shinigami academy so that she would pass the captain’s exam. Captain Clinese was placed in charge of Division 2 and commander-in-chief of the executive militia. With a current count of 4 captains in Soul Society things are beginning to get boring around headquarters for Captain Clinese. She has been training very hard and has been looking for hollows in the Arctic to fight but hasn’t had much luck. Captain Harris has been locked up in the division 4 barracks for about 2 days working on a new incantation for medicinal kido to apply in the battlefield. Captain Tristan Davis and Captain Monsantos Carreras have been training in the southern training grounds of Soul Society to impress Captain Commander Zeus and hope to get back on his good side.

Part II Setting: It is midday; Captain Commander has retired to the division 1 barracks for his biweekly nap. And Grimoire Weiss, CC’s special book on the Demon Arts has gotten locked out of the division 1 barracks and is attempting to let him know that it has located a potential captain. Captain Clinese has just returned from her hollow hunt and enters the great hall outside the entrance to CC’s quarters...but she has yet to realize that she is not alone...

door and notices Grimoire Weiss floating next to the door) Oh the book found another person with some decent spiritual pressure. (snaps her finger and the book floats over to her) All right what do we have...here... (the book turns on its side and the pages unfold) Wait since when....OH MY....(her mouth drops open) C.C.D. : Neytiri...what’s wrong?? (walks over to her side) C.H. : Girl, not a damn thing... everything...is right.... (turns her head to the side)

C.C.D. : (sporting her captain’s uniform with added fur around the collar and sleeves) I can’t stand living on this ice berg!! How am I to hunt and tone my beauty in all this ice!? I swear if I slide on one...more... (her blue spiritual pressure rises and starts too emit from her body) damn time I swear I’ll kill someone!!!

C.C.D. : What are you looking at!? (takes a look at Weiss) Oh my...since when did the book have this feature??

C.H. : CLINESE!! Girl, what is wrong with you!? I can feel your spiritual pressure 3 floors away! Captain Commander is taking his nap. If you don’t quiet down he is going to reduce our behinds...

C.C.D. : You mean we can use this thing....anytime....and it gives high depth...pictures like that?? Girl, PASS THAT MY WAY!

C.C.D. : (calming down) Oh.... man is it Thursday already?? Its not like its my fault, there aren’t any hollow worth killing anymore! C.H. : I understand you are bored...but you need to keep it down! I’m not taking a kido spell for you ... (looks over at CC’s

C.H. : I am almost sure that CC added some new features so the rest of us could....(flips the page) use the book....for whatever... reason...wow...

(A loud roar comes from outside the house shaking the entire castle) C.H. : (drops the book and it closes with all the pages folded neatly) What the hell was that!? (An even louder roar emerges and breaks the windows in the great hall) C.C.D. : It sounds like a hollow...a


pissed off hollow...(reaches for her zampakutou)

other captains’ difficulty in breathing)

(An icy wind forces the doors to the great hall to swing open, revealing an abnormally large unclothed fox like creature)

C.H. : We woke him....We are now royally screwed....

C.H. : Oh God...I can’t take this, first the book ... and now for some reason this fox has human characteristics...(places her hand over her eyes) C.C.D. : I couldn’t care less how it... (turns her head to the side) or he.... looks. I need a new fur coat to go over this captain uniform and he is big enough to do! CLAW AT HIS THROAT: ASANTEWAA!! (Captain Davis releases her zampakutou’s shikai and her blade turns into golden ash and surrounds the fox creature in a circular motion) (The creature raises its paws into the air and slams them into the ground, sending pieces of the floor flying everywhere and dispersing the golden ash back into Clinese’s zampakutou and sending the two captains flying into opposite walls) C.H. : Ouch! Damnit!! All you did was make him mad!! C.C.D. : (rubbing her head) I want... MY COAT!! (A loud groan comes from CC’s door) C.H. : (Looking at the door) Oh... shit....(looking up at the light source of the great hall, which is a skylight open to the sky. The clouds that were covering the sun turn gray and the Moon shifts so that it covers the Sun) C.C.D. : What the hell... (CC releases a large amount of his spiritual pressure and causes the

(The fox creature acts unaffected by the change in pressure and the weather and makes its way toward the captains) C.C. : [ The oozing crest of corruption...The arrogant vessel of Madness...] C.H. : (Realizes what CC is saying) CLINESE!!! MOVE!! HE IS USING KIDO!! (Flash-steps behind a pillar in the great hall to conceal herself) C.C.D. : Good! Now I can get my coat! C.H. : He is using LEVEL 90 KIDO WOMAN!! C.C.D. : (her eyes get huge) WHAT!!?? HE’S GONNA KILL OUR ASSES!! (Flash-steps behind the same pillar and hops on Captain Harris’ back) MEERRR!!! C.C. : [Deny the seething urge...] (the rest of the windows in the great hall shatter from CC’s spiritual pressure and a black mist rolls into the hall from under CC’s door) [Stun and flicker...DISRUPT THE SLEEP...THE CRAWLING QUEEN OF IRON..THE ETERNALLY SELF-DESTRUCTING DOLL OF MUD... UNITE! REPULSE! FILL THE EARTH, AND KNOW YOUR OWN POWERLESSNESS!] Fox: (looks confused at the black fog on the floor) BAARR?? C.C. : HADO #90: KUROHITSUGI!!!! (a black box envelops the fox from its feet and reaches as high as the skylight in the great hall. Spears appear around the box. The spears

then shoot themselves into the box and lacerate the fox from head too toe) (the doors to CC’s room blast open) C.H. : He used...the full incantation....I’ve never...heard him do a full incantation since I’ve been here ... (the black box disappears and reveals the fox unconscious on the floor and bleeding from all the gaping holes in its fur.) C.C.D. : (Jumps off Captain Harris’ back and flash-steps over to the body) Dangit!! That blood will never come out!! C.C. : (walks out of his room with his cane in hand) What is the rule for when I am napping??! C.H. : I believe you said... “ Be Silent or I will bury your soul in the depths of Hell”...or something like that?? C.C. : That is correct...Now for my next question... WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY HOUSE!!!?? C.C.D. : This was not our fault. It was this big fox that did it! He just busted in here like he owned the place! I of course, was in the middle of merking him when you... C.C. : Who was scheduled to place the sealing kido this month??!! C.H. : (Neytiri picks up Grimoire Weiss and flips through the pages) I believe it was Captain Carreras... He is supposed to be in the... C.C. : CARRERAS!!!! (Captain Carreras flash-steps about five feet in front of CC and steps in the pool of blood left by the fox) C.M.C. : Hey Zeus-Ji...no need to shout... I’m here..(looking at the floor) What the...


Interlude #1 Curtis Cook Rap Haiku 1 & 2 No Hands Rain, rain go away That’s what all my haters say No need to elab--Like a G6 Poppin’ Bottles in To ice, like a blizzard when we drink we do it.


C.C. : Yes...this is the result of your carelessness Monsantos. Where you not scheduled to place the sealing kido on the perimeter this month?? C.M.C. : Damnit...I knew I forgot to do something...Sorry?? C.C. : You aren’t sorry yet...You will be cleaning all of this up. C.M.C. : Aw common Zeus! C.C. : (gives him a glare)... C.M.C. : (putting his head down) I’ll get the broom...and the mop...and the Fabuloso... C.H. : (turns to the page in Weiss with the billfold and turns her head sideways again) C.C. : (slams his cane on the floor and the book flies out of her hand and floats in-front of CC) I see the next captain has been found... C.H. : Hey I was reading that! (folding her arms and stomping) C.C. : Correction Neytiri...you were gawking at it...there is a difference. You have a little something here (CC points to the corner of his mouth and Captain Harris uses her sleeve to get the slob out the corner of her mouth) C.H. : Shut up! (looking down at the corpse on the floor) Uhm, CC...look what we have here ... (a zampakutou appears on the body of the fox) C.C. : No wonder he gave you two a run for your money...Well this is going to be an interesting addition to the team. C.C.D. : (looking at the zampakutou) THAT IS HUGE...and I was trying to save the fur for a coat! He did not give me a run for anything!

C.C. : (looks over at Clinese and mumbles) That’s what she said... C.M.C. : (Puts the sleeve of his kimono over his face and laughs as he continues to sweep up the broken class) C.C. : Get your ass back to work!! C.M.C. : IM GOING!! IM GOING! (Uses flash steps to clean up the great hall) C.C. : All right Captain Harris...heal our friend here up and get me a Hell butterfly. I will make the journey too...(looking down at the book) Tijuana...Mexico... C.H. : Alright ... (snaps her finger and a black butterfly appears next to CC in a bubble) Now, CC...Do I need to remind you not to burn everything?? C.C. : Neytiri...when was the last time I released my zampakutou? C.H. : Well lets see.... (scratching her head) I actually don’t recall...but there have been a few fires on earth that are quite suspicious ... (takes out her zampakutou and opens a senkai gate for CC) C.C. : Nice to know you have no proof...(walks through the senkai gate) (Captain Commander makes the trip through the in-between world avoiding the cleaner with no problem and arrives in the city of Tijuana on top of a small one story building) C.H. : (from the Hell butterfly) Alright, CC, it looks like the person you are looking for is in the building across the street. C.C. : Please tell me you are joking...

C.H. : No, Why? What’s wrong? C.C. : If I am not mistaken isn’t Chip n’ Dales a restaurant with half naked people in it? C.H. : IS THAT WHERE HE IS?? No wonder ... (flipping the pages) C.C. : Close the book Neytiri....close it now ... (flash steps off the building to the front door of of the building) C.H. : You are no fun CC ... (closes the book) C.C. : Yes.. Yes,...I know.. (pushes the door open with his cane and a strobe light hits him in the face along with the smell of booze and expensive cologne) In all my years...I have never seen...(a waiter walks by him with a bow tie, shirt cuffs and a pair of jeans on) so much foolishness concentrated in one...wait…I almost forgot about Clinese...never mind... (The same waiter walks back toward CC with a clipboard) Waiter: Hello sir, how may we help you today? C.C. : I require no assistance young man...I will tend to matters myself... thank you.. (walks over to the bar and takes a seat. The bartender walks over to him with a cup and towel in hand) Bartender: What will it be? C.C. : (turns his head toward the man very slowly) A glass of your best Moscato... Bartender: You made it just in time (starting on the drink) The real fun is about to start...all the kids are gone...


C.C. : Oh lucky me...put a rush on that, I get the feeling I’m going to need it...(the lights turn down and club music begins pumping throughout the speakers in the club) (The waiters all get rid of their clipboards and pick people out of their seats to dance with. One of them spots Captain Commander at the bar) Bartender: Oh you sir...are in for a treat...Looks like the head honcho spotted you…and he is on his way to the bar... C.C. : The head honcho of what?? (CC feels the spiritual pressure of the person approaching him and tightens his grip on the head of his cane) A.G. : WELL....why are you sitting here by yourself.. (places his hand upon CC’s hand, loosening his grip on his cane) C.C. : (Looking down at his hand) I came here looking for someone...if you must know, young man... A.G. : Young man?? Oh common, you don’t even look a year older than me... C.C. : (mumbling to himself) Damn good kido skills... A.G. : What? C.C. : SO...tell me why are you here? You don’t seem like the kind of person too... A.G. : I know what you are saying. What is a guy like me doing in a place like this? C.C. : Well since you brought it up... A.G. : I’d much rather be giving a lap dance at the moment but sure…

I’ll entertain you. (Sits next to CC) Well honestly, I work at an animal orphanage.

Boss: (Shouting at Apollo form his office) YOU HAVE BEEN GIVING MY MONEY TO MISFIT DOGS??

C.C. : (finally gets a look at the person next to him, and notices that he is half naked with rippling muscles and black flowing hair) uhm... Whaaa...??

C.C. : Gentlemen... Because I am feeling unusually nice I will ask just once...Please...move. I would hate to have to hurt you all.

A.G. : Yea I know its hard to believe…but this is just a side job so I can get some money for the orphanage. If my boss found out that the majority of my tips were going towards homeless animals he would probably kill me... C.C. : You can’t be serious. Sounds like to me you are in quite the tough situation. A.G. : Well you could look at it that way, but today kinda turned around when you walked in... C.C. : (the bartender passes CC his drink and CC takes it straight to the head) You don’t say! A.G.: Yea I get the feeling that things might be looking up ... (a man yells from the back of the club, and two very large bouncers coming over to Apollo and pick him up by his arms and carry him off) WHAT THE!?? HEY! PUT ME DOWN!! C.C. : Oh...that probably isn’t good... (stands up and 4 more bouncers scattered around the club rush over to him) Bouncer #1: This is a private business sir...perhaps you should have a seat..and order another drink... Bouncer #2: It’s probably best for your health sir... C.C. : My health...is the last thing you should be worried about gentlemen...

(The bouncers all chuckle and crack their knuckles) Bouncer #1: C’mon old man...take a seat, before we bash your head in. Boss: (Still shouting in office) WHERE THE HELL IS MY MONEY!?? (the sound of a shotgun reloading can be heard throughout the club) C.C. : (takes off his haori and tosses it at the bartender who catches it out of panic) I’ve asked nicely... Bouncer #1: All right boys..let’s have some fun...(chuckles and walks toward CC) C.C. : So you are the first to fall..so be it...(the bouncer draws back his fist and aims straight for CC’s face. CC’s hand catches the bouncer’s fist without flinching) You must be the weak one out of the four... Bouncer #1: Wha....what?? LUCKY OLD MAN…THAT’S ALL YOU ARE! (CC squeezes the man’s fist within his own, breaking a few of his fingers and bringing him down to his knees) AAAAHH..WHAT...!!?? C.C. : You don’t seem nearly as tough now, how did that happen?? Bouncer #1: (looking back at the other bouncers) DON’T JUST STAND THERE! GET HIM!! (the other bouncers rush toward CC)


Interlude #2 Curtis Cook Rap Haiku 3 6 Foot 7 Foot “Look, I’m right behind ya.” Bitch, real G’s movie in silence like lasagna.


C.C. : Bakudo # 9: Geki.. (a red light surrounds the other three bouncers and stops them in their tracks due to paralysis) Bouncer #1: What the hell is WRONG WITH YOU GUYS??! C.C. : They walked in striking distance...they aren’t going anywhere for some time thanks to their overconfident and utterly stupid leader. Now you…sir…should really...take a nap.. Bouncer #1: But...But…Im not sleepy....(shaking in fear) I JUST WORK HERE!! IM ONLY DOING MY JOB!! C.C. : I see they are now including bullying in the job description of imbeciles...shame. Bouncer #1: Bitch! (attempts to stand up. CC jams his cane in the bouncer’s leg) FUUUCK!! (a shot from a shotgun goes off in the back office) C.C. : Goodnight... Bakudo #40: Hakufuku...(purple flowers fall from the ceiling of the entire club and everyone, including the bouncers, drop unconscious) Tens...Tens.. Tens... (The boss of the club bust out of his office, and the sight of Apollo laying on the floor with blood flowing form his body is revealed by the swinging door) Boss: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?? C.C. : (Spiritual pressure rising) You killed him..because you were missing a few dollars due to some misfortunate animals...selfish... Boss: Who the fuck are you bub!? (Pointing at CC with the shotgun)

What the hell happened to my club!?? (looks around at all the customers and bouncers and holds the shotgun tighter) Did YOU do all of this!?? C.C. : And if I did...were you planning on using that little toy of yours??! Surely you weren’t attempting to harm me with that pitiful excuse for a weapon!? (dark clouds gather over the club) Boss: I don’t know who you think you are talking to like that, but I can guarantee that you are gonna end up just like your buddy in there! (holds up the shot gun and squeezes the trigger) C.C. : Donku.... (the Boss fires the gun and the shells rushes toward CC as a clear rectangular wall appears before CC and the shells bounces off the wall) Boss: WHAT THE HELL!?! (shivering) C.C. : (his eyes shifts to bloodshot red) (CC outstretches his hand and closes his fist toward the boss) Bakudo # 63: Sajo Sabaku!!!! (A large segment of golden chains descend from the ceiling and ensnares the Boss, causing him to drop the gun) Boss: WHAT IS THIS!!? WHAT ARE YOU!!?? (struggling to get out of the chains) C.C. : You humans nowadays have no class whatsoever... Let me show you (the cane in CC’s hand sheds its outer shell to reveal CC’s zampakutou) the proper way to execute someone! (placing his hand on the hilt of the blade) Ryujin Jakka...Strike One: Sweeping Strike!!! (swings the blade toward the boss in a vertical motion, causing a large gust of wind from the force of the swing to break all the glasses in the bar.) (CC places

the blade back in its sheaf) (The Boss’ body splits into two separate pieces and blood spews from the body as it falls to the ground. CC walks into the office and kneels next to Apollo’s body) C.C. : Ridiculous what people will do for a measly monetary piece of paper. It would only be right if I was the one to bring him back...besides... I’m sure Neytiri would appreciate the break...(placing his hand on the chest of Apollo his hand begin to glow green) A.G. : (opening one eye) C.C. : Don’t speak just yet...you will be better in a short while. (CC’s hand looses the green light around it and Apollo grabs his hand before he can take it away) A.G. : I never got your name... C.C. : (looking away) You may refer to me as Zeus...(uses his cane to stand to his feet) A.G. : Well Zeus... I’m not quite sure what happened here…but I feel like I owe you quite a bit. C.C. : Nonsense...I merely did what was right. (turning to walk away) A.G. : Wait! Is this yours? (holding up a katana with a blue hilt) C.C. : (to himself) Damnit... I was subtly hoping that wouldn’t happen ... (turning back toward Apollo) No, it is actually yours...And it looks like you will be coming with me. A.G. : Oh really? (standing to his feet) Is this your funny way of asking me out?? C.C. : WAIT What? Uhm...No...I’m


simply....Damnit... A.G. : It’s all right... I knew you couldn’t resist..it was only a matter of time.. (looking at his newly required katana) C.C. : There is no way this will be easy to explain...(walking over to the now unconscious bartender and putting his haori back on. He turns around and flinches from Apollo being right behind him with a large

smile on his face) Don’t you have some clothes or something?? A.G. : Of course not..I’m a stripper.. or at least used to be... Besides…I get the feeling I won’t need them tonight..(placing his hand on CC’s shoulder) C.C. : (jumping) HAKUFUKU!!! (Apollo falls backwards and becomes unconscious like everyone else in the club) OOOOPS.... I really need to get out more...

(CC picks up Apollo and flash-steps back to HQ.) Apollo and the newly named half human half fox intruder, Sam Brunson, entered the Shinigami Academy. About 100 years passed and Sam was pronounced captain of Division 7, Apollo was made the lieutenant of Division 1.

What Will Happen Next...? Curtis Cook Rap Haiku 4 Dance (Ass) Ass ass ass ass ass Ass ass ass ass ass ass ass Ass ass Wobble-dy.


In Solidarity


Dawn Maya Iverson

Can I just fall Into her arms Where time slows But not in a way that leaves me wishing Or lost in the simplest of words But instead in a place where I find myself in a web of tocks Hoping that the curtains never give sway To the Sun’s demands To enter into this moment I pray will last longer than what Destiny plans For the final ticks of our clocks

Spring 2012


Choosing to be Blind Angelique Boyd

your lips spit thorns, but I still like to taste them. the thorns add beautiful red to my face. your hand kisses me, hard on my cheek.

but i push you to your limit. i end up crying, scared. i am sorry i made you so mad. you apologize, but i don’t deserve it.

Loud and Deep.

And you say you love me, the moment I was thinking of leaving.

our bed is covered with my dresses. i ask, “do you like what you see?’ eyes squint, lips frown, and your legs tell the rest when you walk away from me. i guess i got to try harder. my friends say i’m beautiful, but it doesn’t matter, you want me to be better. i greet you with hugs and you say I disrespect you. i feel like dying when I make you angry. at the end, I am left with a Love Bite with a tinge of Black and Blue. i do not show anybody because it is between Us. you whisper sweetly in my ear, and your strong arms wrap around me, like my favorite blanket.

In Solidarity


And again, you left me, like last time. I left you, again, I suppose. We both departed. I got in a bus and you rode your bike away with that old scent of familiarity. Maybe this, too, is about practice. As I peek out the window I hold to time. Not always must time pass: we are trapped in this leaving. I hold to you, a forgotten memory of what was not. Your blue coat disappearing under the sun and a kiss waiting in my lips, again. The foreverness of this repeated goodbye. I did not cry this time. Perhaps today you understood what I did not say, you always got me that way. Maybe you know that when I said it was a pleasure, te quiero, I meant I will always love you a little, my shadow. But like the first drop of a summer storm or the ache at a wave’s touch, I will also forget you.

Alej Wundram

Come Back, Forget Spring 2012


In Solidarity - Spring 2012  

Oberlin In Solidarity is Oberlin College's biannual publication dedicated to providing a space for the creative and intellectual expression...

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