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Stanley Almodovar III, 23 Amanda Alvear, 25 Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 Antonio Davon Brown, 29 Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 Luis Daniel Conde, 39 Cory James Connell, 21 Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 Paul Terrell Henry, 41 Frank Hernandez, 27 Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25

Letter from the Editors Dear Reader,

ED. 4 VOL 1

FALL 2016




2016 has been a difficult year. We at The Independent, like a large portion of the United States, have been cycling through the stages of grief after hearing the results of the 2016 presidential election. As members of the LGBTQ community, as women, and one of us being a person of color without the security of citizenship, we’ve felt the impact of the election of Donald Trump and Mike Pence on a visceral, personal level. We’ve felt devalued, disillusioned, furious, and defeated. 2016 has been a slap in the face and in contradiction to everything we believe about freedom, democracy, and equality. Last summer, same sex marriage was legalized nation-wide by the Supreme Court of the United States. This year, in the same month, 49 innocent people lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub simply for who they were and whom they loved. Hate has revealed itself in so many ways. People are being written off as worthless and expendable for their country of origin or the color of their skin; women are increasingly being prevented from accessing basic reproductive healthcare; and those in the LGB and especially the transgender community are afraid of leaving their homes, losing their spouses, or at worst, losing their own lives. In this issue of The Independent, we include three different perspectives on the 2016 election—but whether you look at it internationally, through the lens of political theory, or as a citizen of the United States, the overarching message has been the same: change is happening, for better or for worse. And change is certainly necessary, but the way it is manifesting both in the United States and on an international scale has been antithetical to progress. The American people made a very poignant choice in electing Donald Trump, one that speaks to a global backlash against the recently achieved rights of the LGBTQ community, people of color in the United States, and the slow progress forward for women and people with disabilities. For every step forward we take, men like Trump have consistently appeared throughout history to drag us backwards once again. Trump is not a new figure in our nation’s legacy, nor is the racism, homophobia, and xenophobia he represents a new phenomenon within the American conscious. As represented by the rainbow on our cover and the names of the 49 souls who lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub on June 12th, this issue is dedicated to all those who have been victims of hate and oppression throughout our country’s past and present. However, it is also a summons to action. We at The Independent acknowledge the importance of the written word and reflection, but also the deep need for advocacy and organized movement against regressive politics and policy. This means volunteering with political organizations and nonprofits, donating whatever you can, contacting representatives about issues that matter, having difficult conversations with friends and relatives, engaging in local politics, and voting in 2018. We hope to inspire in you all a sense of urgency, but also a sense of hope for the future. With action, community solidarity, and effective organizing, we can still prevent the backslide of the progress we’ve made over the course of the last century. Our ancestors have laid a powerful foundation of activism and grassroots change, one that we, as a generation and a people, have the responsibility to uphold and continue. The time for mourning was brief. As President Obama stated on the night of the election, “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.” It is our job to make sure it rises on a nation that continues to uphold a legacy of democracy, freedom, and equal rights. Together, we move forward. Sincerely, Hannah Powell Editor-in-Chief

Carmen Cheng Chief Creative Officer

The opinions stated in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of The Independent, its staff, advertisers, or Rollins College. This magazine is dedicated to the memory of Hamilton Holt Editor and Publisher of The ‘Original’ Independent from 1897-1921 and Eighth President of Rollins College from 1925-1949.

Send some letters to the editor, we would love to hear from you!

The Independent is published twice a year by Rollins College with issues released in April and December. Principle office: Mills Memorial Hall, Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. 1,000 copies distributed on campus and in the Winter Park area, available at Bush Science Center, Campus Center, Cornell Social Sciences building, Olin Library, and Alfond Inn. For additional information, please see our website:




We’ve Been Waiting for the Drop for Years Nick Darbonne



From Latinos, to Everyone: Words from the Heart Lucia Alfero


Being Here and There Victoria Villavicencio


November Ninth: On Daniel Udell

The Morning After Christelle Ram


Unveiling Bigotry Hind Berji



American Exceptionalism Jack Gabriel


Period Story Kenzie Helmick

Down the Rabbit Hole Amber Appel


To Stand — Or Sit, Or Kneel — as Americans Lisa Tillmann


Divestment Update Nick L’Heureaux




Death of Adonis Caitlin Cherniak


Goodbye Uncle Barbara Hughes


Cheater’s View Christelle Ram

Photography by Carmen Cheng





“All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. […] A generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force—is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.” - Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Written by Nick Darbonne Illustrated by Carmen Cheng

A few years ago, I took a large dose of LSD at an electronic music show. The “psychedelic trance” band Infected Mushroom was on stage when the acid kicked in. They’re not a very good band, and their music isn’t very articulate. One of their songs endlessly repeats a phrase like “I’m losing my mind,” which wasn’t particularly pleasant to hear at that moment, given my circumstances. And yet the rest of the crowd was clearly losing theirs. While the spectacle took place, I realized that these guys had a large amount of control over a massive crowd of people. My mind made some rudimentary connections: the beady array of LED lights on the stage morphed into a cavalcade of revolving swastikas, and I could’ve sworn the lead singer, now decked out in full regalia, was doing a Nazi salute. I don’t know how long that lasted; I remember living out weeks, which changed to years, and then to infinity, whereupon I died and was reborn, or so it seemed. After dying, I disengaged from the concert, signaling to my acid partner (who was, naturally, a girl I’d met about an hour prior) that we should head to the back of the venue and sit down while Datsik played. The music didn’t really matter anymore because I suddenly saw how contrived everything was. I found no answers, only questions. What was this music saying? Why were these people so excited, so easily corralled? I think she agreed wholeheartedly when I said it was all a nonsensical spectacle, but because LSD

makes you feel overly connected, it could’ve been mostly an illusion. Despite the drug’s reputation as a master of unreality, I felt that I’d finally pried open the curtains. There was nothing there. It was 2010 when I first heard Skrillex, three years or so before my “revelation.” It was the year the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP broke through. His wasn’t the only dubstep record to make a splash; Porter Robinson’s Spitfire stood beside it the following year, heralding an era where mainstream dance music became impossibly aggressive. This is music that would build up energy and then violently combust. It was music for the neon mosh pits of the future. Commercial punk/metal fusion was waning in popularity, and this stuff picked up right where it left off. Whatever these producers were doing sounded really unique; that era of dubstep was eye-opening to my 16-yearold self. In fact, the subgenre pulled in such a large number of new fans that it can’t be ignored or written off as a one-off thing. The formal language of house and techno existed long before, but the colloquialisms of dubstep introduced a generation of young people to electronic music. Even Taylor Swift and Korn tried their hands at dubstep; this is proof of, if nothing else, the lengths artists go to capture the moment. Skrillex and Robinson were associated at the time with a loose movement of electronic dance music (you know it as EDM) producers THE FORUM | 3

entering the arena from other genres, or just happening to catch the hype train at the right time. Their ranks include Bassnectar, Rusko, Feed Me, Zomboy, Datsik, and countless others. But more than the rest, Skrillex exemplified the moment in electronic music. The man won eight Grammys. He was the face of EDM for a few years, superseding the reigning champ deadmau5. It seemed like a prominent new subculture was forming, albeit one that was mass-market friendly. Like I said, this subculture had actually existed for years. But with the coming of aggressive dubstep and a proliferation of commercial raves, it was poised for a resurgence, a Third Summer of Love. Advertisers and record producers rejoiced. And isn’t that the mark of any subculture? The ability to become, at some point, massively marketable? There’s also the promise of meaning, even if it’s disseminated through marketing. I

And isn’t that the mark of any subculture? The ability to become, at some point, massively marketable?

the “society of the spectacle” is, among other things, “the material reconstruction of the religious illusion.”

can’t claim to be able to accurately summarize what EDM meant (or means) for people. Subcultures are often based around music that expresses the ethos of their members. At least, that was the case with most historical

According to French theorist Guy Debord, the “society of the spectacle” is, among other things, “the material reconstruction of the religious illusion.” Think back to the hippies of Thompson’s

Subcultures impart meaning: there are many people who really have bought into the idea that this music represents them. They usually don’t reject the material world, but they have a heightened appreciation for the illusory one. youth subcultures. It took some time for me to realize that EDM was truly devoid of substance. You could disagree. “If we’re just there to have fun,” you say, “there shouldn’t really be a meaning to it at all, right?” That’s the most EDM thing anyone could ever think. Go chew a glowstick and suck your fingers to Diplo, you kandi-hoarding weirdo. If anything, the genre’s about excitement and novelty. Many of us like electronic music because of the “drop.” It is the moment when the music gets more exciting. It is a rush of excitement and a release of pent-up energy. It is a guarantee. It is the light at the end of the tunnel in lieu of a meaningful truth. You’re crammed on the dance floor, doing your thing. Soon the tension shifts, the music gets faster, the stage lights flicker, and the water vapor cannons fire. Then the bass hits. In 2010-era dubstep, it was actually more of a violently shrieking mid-range, but that doesn’t matter. It could still shake your bones. As such, the catch-all term “bass music” is now widely used to refer to this genre and related evolutions: future bass, electronic trap, whatever they’re calling it these days. “Dubstep,” as we knew it, has largely moved underground. It started there, sounding far different than it did upon its breakthrough atop the charts—now it’s gone back into hiding. Today, the aesthetics of popular music are different; the sounds and the people have changed a bit. There is constant truth, but there is also constant change. Dubstep is just the case study that drew me in; the subculture itself is bigger than that and continues to evolve. It leaves the question: where do EDM’s ideals come from, and how do they grow? They do not materialize out of thin air. Still, there is no beating heart behind electronic dance music, no blood that binds the members of its family. We try to group ourselves with like-minded people, but what do EDM fans really have in common? Love of dancing? Love of spectacle?

era, caught in the trappings of psychedelia, believing their truths to be within reach because their environment promised it to them. Granted, Debord was referring to a lot more than a dubstep concert, but the fact remains that everything we consume in mass culture amounts to a packaged experience, removed from real-world context, claiming to define us and impart meaning. EDM was never any different. It absolutely was and is religious, remaining all the more fallacious for it. The cult of MDMA-assisted “PLUR” (Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect) furthers this religious notion for those who choose to partake. It’s a step in the ritual. We prostrate ourselves at the altar of the DJ; their body is the crystalline substance, blood the five dollar water bottle. Repeated actions. Fulfillment. Now you love everybody. There’s your meaning. We define ourselves by the culture we consume; electronic dance music is a cult to many of its followers. Subcultures impart meaning: there are many people who really have bought into the idea that this music represents them. They usually don’t reject the material world, but they have a heightened appreciation for the illusory one. A more thorough analysis would take into account background and race; according to a 2014 Nielsen survey (and from my own observations), EDM fans are primarily white. It could be said that, because it’s a wholly apolitical subculture, white people would feel comfortable latching onto EDM instead of anything that directly or indirectly calls out their status and labels in society. However, the numbers in this survey don’t seem too different from the mostly white population of the United States; Nielsen says 63% of EDM fans are non-Hispanic whites. The US Census Bureau tells us that, for 2015, 61.6% of the US population were non-Hispanic whites. This may have not been the case when I was dubstepping a few years ago, but EDM seems to be able to transcend race now. We have to THE FORUM | 5

look further for meaning. Many young people have clung to this notion of music festivals as a place to “find themselves.” No, not everyone assumes they’re going to come face-to-face with the answers to life’s great mysteries or the truth about their place in the world or anything other than a quick release, a brain vacation. But again, branding produces meaning, even if it operates in the subconscious of its victims. You’ve seen those videos of classically attractive youths yelling at a hovering, swerving camera whilst confetti cannons fire. Why aren’t you one of them? In the same way that Woodstock was said to be the manifestation of a generational shift, and punk music was a similar response to disillusionment (don’t tell a punk that), it’s easy to assume that the young people of today filling up concert venues and beer-soaked grassy fields are looking for the same sense of belonging and purpose. But I realized, much like disillusioned mod Jimmy in the film Quadrophenia, that subcultures will not necessarily grant you truth or define you or make it all make sense. That is up to the individual. Ideas and attitudes spread like viruses through pop culture, and businesses like to sell us things. Thus, EDM became a phenomenon through not only companies like Insomniac Events and festivals like Ultra, but also through countless suburban Hot Topics, shifting their wares yearly to cater to emerging subculture-turned-mainstreamculture. But most importantly, EDM has been able to provide the illusion of meaning, much like any other element of culture is wont to do. Its cult stems from this, functioning in the same way as the cults of goths, mods, hippies, bikers, and good old-fashioned religious types. I’ve noticed EDM is particularly effective due to the relatively unified sense of neon-vomit aesthetics, common entheogenic and empathogenic drug use, and the broadly defined man-made spectacle that makes up its large-scale technicolor gatherings. There,

There, the DJ is God, the dance floor is his temple, and the lights are visions of angels. the DJ is God, the dance floor is his temple, and the lights are visions of angels. But is any of that really a problem? It may look crude to an outsider, but all of life rests on perception, and I firmly believe that there is beauty in this world yet. We’re all meant to look for it. J feedback:

r i e h t g n i v a e l or f m e h t e r i m d a : l d a a e o d r b o t a g s n o i n v i ha r o F . “All Lat e r u t u f er t t e b g n a i h r t o y f r e d v n e i h e e v lea o t home b d e c r o f g of ein b y t f e o f a n i s a e p h t e h h it w d with t e n r e c n o c r i bed e h o t t p g e n i e o k g o t r o ble a g n i e behind. F b r o F e. m o h k c a � b . s e e m v i o t h a l m e o r r f r y a thei w a s e l i m e l cultures whi

From Latinos, To Everyone: Words From The Heart. A piece advocating for equality and respect. let us latinos show you our side while respecting yours. Written By Lucia Alfaro Illustrated By Christine Cole

Being from Latin America does not equal living in trees. It does not equal crime and it certainly does not equal lack of education. On the contrary, we tend to be cultured people, people who have learned from the best teacher: life. Our countries may not have the latest technologies or play massive roles in world issues. We might be flooded by corruption, murder, and terror, afraid to leave our homes past a certain hour and struggling to get a loaf of bread. Us Latinos will be the first ones to accept that our countries are far from being okay. We do not think we are the world’s greatest power. Instead, we humbly accept that we need the aid of others. Most of us belong to the third world and are stuck in it for good. Despite all of this, we have deep love for our land and we do get offended when people degrade us. Our situation has only taught us to be strong and hardworking. We have to make a living and we live life with little to no luxury. I grew up seeing people in need. It breaks my heart to see my people begging for food and wishing for the money my country does not have. We are sorry we are forced to leave. We are sorry we are forced to go to the extremes to earn minimum wage. To feed our families. To prevent our kids from starving to death. Latinos are willing to take anything. Anything to provide. We are sorry to succumb to desperation when we are not even greeted politely at embassies. We do not seek to take anyone’s jobs. We seek to take those you don’t want. I am from El Salvador, and just so you have an idea, our minimum wage is around $0.50 per hour. Meanwhile the United States’, at its lowest federal minimum, is $7.25 an hour. Our countries are dominated by poverty

and achieving a decent life is a constant struggle. Fortunately, some of us have had the luck to go to international schools, receive education abroad and make a comfortable living. We are the ones responsible for advocating for our countries. Our families have worked hard. Endured pain. Started from the bottom. We are tired of being degraded. We are also victims of our own countries where corruption is swallowing money and lives. We are the ones looking to save our countries and stand up for them. Sorry if we have an accent when speaking English. We make the effort to learn another language. Sorry if we speak too much Spanish between us. It is our mother tongue and part of our identity. We have learned how to coexist with other cultures but also preserve our own. We are not all killers or thieves. Women are not always mere curvaceous, sexual objects but intelligent and hard working human beings. We are not illegal. If we are undocumented, this does not mean we are evil people, but desperate ones. We know what internet is. We do not all look the same; blonde Latinos are real. We can be clean and have manners. We are normal people like you. We have evil people just like you. But this is not all of us. We do not deserve to be subject to generalizations and discriminated against because of poor assumptions. There are millions of us living abroad. Don’t worry. Believe me, we know we are not home. We have grown to respect you and your land. We are thankful for the opportunity. We only ask to be treated like the humans we are. Those working for less than the minimum wage: admire them. They are willing to clean your house to feed their


children. Forgive them if their English is not perfect. Most of these people have had little to no access to bilingual schools and cannot prioritize English lessons over the need for food. They make the effort to communicate. Recognize them for their courage to leave their country for the totally unknown. To leave their loved ones behind with no certainty they will be able to ever see them again. Imagine going to a place where you do not understand the language or recognize the land. Alone. Expecting the worse. Admire these people for having hope, something that most of us have lost. Those who belong to the working class and have made a life abroad: respect them from being able to emerge successful. Treat them with courtesy. They add to your community. They bring diversity and profit to your country. Admire them for being able to leave home and establish a new one. For adapting to a different lifestyle that includes learning a new language. Latino students studying abroad: respect them for seeking to succeed when the only way is to leave their home. Admire them for carrying out an entire education in another language. Esteem their or their guardian’s hard work to afford this education. All Latinos abroad: admire them for leaving their home behind for a better future. For having to deal with the pain of being forced to leave everything behind. For going to bed concerned with the safety of their relatives back home. For being able to keep their cultures while miles away from home. So let us keep our homes close to our hearts the way we know best. Let us be part of your world with no discrimination. Let us be human with you. Let us learn from your culture and teach you ours. J


BEING HERE AND THERE Written by Victoria Villavicencio My grandmother spends the majority of her week waiting. She waits in line at the supermarket, often for hours, waiting for whatever has arrived that day. It might be chicken, it might be cheese, it might be coffee, or it might even be powdered milk. She waits at banks for money that isn’t there. She waits for the electricity to be put back on so she can cook her meals and she waits for the water to come back so she can shower. She waits by the telephone for calls from dozens of relatives who have fled the country, including her only son and his family. My grandmother lives in a quiet neighborhood in Caracas, Venezuela. The term ‘quiet’ is relative—Caracas’ soaring crime rates have earned it the questionable honor of being the world’s most violent city, with 122 murders per 100,000 residents. It is the kind of place where stories of kidnappings and violent deaths abound within your closest of circles, yet most of these crimes occur with relative impunity. No one ever explains to you, as you are packing up your life in order to escape a collapsing country, that you never fully leave. Nobody ever explains that even though your physical body boards that plane, some portion of your mind remains. Ever since my family emigrated from Venezuela in 2010, my grandmother and all the others we left behind reside inside of my conscience. Because of this, I, and many others who have left their home countries in search of a better life, exist in a constant state of both here and there. For me, here is Rollins and all it entails: classes, homework, involvement, dorms, and friends. There is home and all of the turmoil within that country. Whenever some poor, unsuspecting soul makes the mistake of asking me “What is going wrong in Venezuela?” they are rarely aware of the breadth and complexity of reasons as to why my

home country is self-imploding. The answer to that question would also be an extremely biased one, considering that the official government position is that absolutely nothing is going wrong. There is simply no humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, as maintained by the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Delcy Rodríguez, when questioned by the OAS. Venezuela was once one of the region’s most prosperous countries, with vast oil reserves and a level of democratic stability rare in Latin America. Today, it is fraught with economic troubles and a political tug-of-war. As an economy, Venezuela is heavily dependent on oil exports. Falling oil prices have hit both the people and the government hard. The government has had its revenues halved and is unable to either maintain its massive expenditures on social welfare or repay its ever-growing foreign debt. Considered the government practice of seizing other private industries that have now gone to waste and implementing price controls that forced producers to operate at a loss, Venezuela’s economy is simply not diverse enough to sustain the blow. Increasingly, the country relies on imports of even the most basic necessities. Food shortages are a result of the government’s decreasing oil revenues. Private industries are unable to produce with the current price controls in place. With fewer and fewer dollars to purchase the imports, the inflow of basic goods starts to run low. More and more Venezuelans, like my grandmother, wait in line for hours for products that are simply not there. Furthermore, government policy has now placed a cap on the scarcest items, so even if you find rice you can only take two bags per customer. Being able to afford products is also an

No one ever explains to you as you are packing up your life in order to escape a collapsing country that you never fully leave. Nobody ever explains that even though your physical body boards that plane, some portion of your mind remains.


“Meanwhile, I sat in classrooms taking notes about Public Speaking and wondering if the next time I opened my phone, it would be one of my own loved ones that had disappeared. “ obstacle; inflation reached triple digits in 2015. Images of empty shelves, winding lines, and supermarket brawls in Venezuela circulate the internet every day. For the poorest of Venezuelans, starvation feels imminent. It should not be a surprise that the current president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, has failed to retain the undisputed popularity of his predecessor: Hugo Chávez, a man who was heralded as a saint by some of his most fervent supporters. Maduro (hand-selected by Chávez as the heir apparent to the Bolivarian Revolution) has been left to deal with Chávez’s legacy: rampant corruption, economic decline, and widespread political polarization. Maduro’s political opposition has gained ground within the government, achieving a congressional majority for the first time in over a decade. Government efforts to actively silence, disable, and imprison political opposition has garnered both national and international criticism. Today, opposition protests take to the streets with unparalleled zealousness as the possibility of regime transition begins to feel less like a dream and more like an incumbent reality. There is one last by-product of the Venezuelan crisis, quite possibly the one that the reader might be the most acquainted with: immigration. The number of Venezuelan asylum-seekers in the U.S. has skyrocketed in recent years, particularly after a series of bloody protests in February 2014 that have continued sporadically to this day. The Venezuelan diaspora has had to deal with the turmoil of transition as best as they are able to when they are thousands of kilometers away. This most popular coping mechanism, other than becoming an activist, is to exist both here and there. Venezuela is kept alive in our subconscious primarily through telecommunication and the occasional family reunion: WhatsApp group chats that constantly update with rumors or news, friends and family who have taken on the roles of

amateur reporters on Facebook, visiting family and friends who bring news and leave with luggage full of basic goods, and the few news outlets that have survived or circumvented government censorship. Living in two places at once is not easy when those places collide. When the February 2014 protests began, I was a freshman here at Rollins. I had lived outside of Venezuela for years and this phenomenon of being both here and there was nothing new. But all of my old friends began to blow up our group chats with “Where are you?” and “Are you safe?” As the death toll in the protests climbed, the messages became more frantic. They circulated images of arrested and battered protesters, most of them college students our age. They asked for help in finding missing protestors that were taken by the police. One friend shared particularly helpful tips on counteracting tear gas (just cover your nose and mouth with a cloth soaked in vinegar). Meanwhile, I sat in classrooms taking notes about Public Speaking and wondering if the next time I opened my phone, it would be one of my own loved ones that had disappeared. The question of “What comes next for Venezuela?” is a pressing one. The opposition, or the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), perseveres in its efforts to call for a referendum to decide whether or not Maduro should retain his position. As of October 21, 2016, these efforts were thwarted by the government when lower courts ruled to suspend the referendum process. Venezuelans who live abroad flee economic hardships and unchecked violent crime. They are afraid of an uncertain future and seek the promise of stability and prosperity in foreign lands. They are like me, though we do not all look alike or even sound alike. And as they arrive in these new lands, they know that they are incomplete. They have left a piece of themselves behind. They look to the referendum efforts with the hope that one day they will be reunited with the piece they left behind.




ON MOVING FORWARD Written by Daniel Udell Illustrated by Carmen Cheng

In the wake of recent events, I feel the need to be candid, and in doing so it’s likely that some things I say will upset some people. They might disagree, as is their right. I hope they speak up with conviction and a sense of clarity. I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but I need to call out the nature of the situation, as it appears clear to me. There are some glaring realities that people need to come to terms with; part of this historic upset is a result of disregarding reality because it was comfortable to do so. Now we’ve lost our right to be comfortable, and it’s going to take a lot to earn it back. I think it is fair to say that the collective emotion following the election, other than the initial shock, has been grief. Grief comes from loss, and I’ve seen some people try to rationalize that grief as a reaction to losing an election or political cycle. That is a false characterization. People are grieving because something died in the early morning of November 9th, and it was ugly, and it was visceral, and it was for the whole world to see. There is no alternate story where

this didn’t happen. Donald Trump will be the president. That said, he will not be the President of the United States. The United States is the loss that we grieve. We are still united in our grief, but now we have to adjust to the new reality of simply being the States of America. We had a good run. 240 years is nothing to sneeze at. We accomplished great things, inspired the world to rethink the possible, and lived in one of the most prosperous times in recorded history in no small part because of the feats accomplished by the United States. But like any state, any empire, any republic, they’re finite. They end. Sometimes from external forces, sometimes from internal. Part of our grief is that we did it to ourselves, and we have no one to blame or to point the finger at. We are still Americans, but we are a shadow of what we once were, and the world watched as we fell with a final determined swoop. As long as we’re being honest, we’re not particularly special in this; tyrants appear to be on the rise everywhere. To name a few, look POLITICS | 11

“We are still united in our grief, but now we have to adjust to the new reality of simply being the States of America.”

“No, Donald, you're not my president. You're a president now, that much is true, congratulations. But you're not the winner.”


to the Philippines, Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, and Russia—you will see similar crises, with good people striving to break the yoke of dictatorship and struggling to do so. While we’re at it, Israel is guilty of repressive regimes too; the illegal colonization of Palestinian land and subsequent brutalization of its people is to be held to the same standard as any other country. ISIS terrorizes the Middle East, in part due to our collective ignorance on matters of importance— namely, where our tax dollars go and why we fight wars. We’ve given a blank check for our government to do with as they wish overseas— now we’re worried because that blank check has been given to a sociopath who intends to do as he pleases at home rather than just abroad. No, Donald, you’re not my president. You’re a president now, that much is true, congratulations. But you’re not the winner. Winners don’t need to cheat and lie and fear monger their way to power. That’s what bullies do, and bullies are losers afraid of being called out for what they are: pathetic and afraid. And you are pathetic, Donald. You are an ugly man with an ugly heart, and you have brought the wretched and ugly out with you. I say “ugly” because that is what this whole process of unveiling has been. To watch eight years of people crying wolf on President Obama being an unchecked dictator, one of the most graceful public servants in modern history forced to endure horrifying racism in the broad light of day, and then to see those same people beg and pine for an authoritarian idol like Trump, is the height of ugliness. Watching my LBGTQ+ friends and family be disregarded as a matter of public opinion, rather than human beings with human rights, has been ugly. The blatant disregard for black lives and the willful urge to fight any attempt to address it has been ugly. The constant treatment of women as anything less than men, in ability or rights, has been beyond ugly. The manipulation of poor, disenfranchised, undereducated, and ill-informed Americans has been ugly. The constant drone of the for-profit national media machine providing the pedestal for Trump to reach as many ears as possible, regardless of the consequences and solely for the profits, has been ugly. The reaction to desperate refugees fleeing a war that we in part made worse has been ugly. To watch the DNC unveil itself as being just as corrupt as their sworn opponents, undermining one populist candidate in favor of another who they pompously imagined they could beat, was ugly. To watch the NRA, one of the most despicable organizations on the planet, one that literally profits off of terror and violence so blatantly that it could not even risk self-evaluation in the face of the mass murder of children at school, who prey on the fears of

Americans and support a fascist for president; that is ugly. The unsustainable dynamic of an economic system that accepts the comfortable are entitled to their prosperity, regardless of the hopelessness, radicalization, and resentment it fosters, is ugly. And the constant undermining of our democracy, little by little, so subtle at times that to mention it tacitly was to elicit conspiratorial tones, has been ugly. So here it is. We’re left with a fractured, confused, hurt, and divided ex-country that must cope with the fact that we’ve given unchecked power to an unapologetic sociopath who has promised ruin on the world. When I say unchecked, I mean unchecked. Congress is entirely red and radical, in part due to mass amounts of dark money funneled into extreme conservative candidates and weak liberal ones, alongside a disgusting degree of blatant voter suppression. The Supreme Court will be weighted with far right bias and political inclination, turning balanced justice into a farce. The FBI and NSA will be tools of vengeance at the whim of a fickle, vengeful man, and the

seen empires fall; it kept spinning. It has seen revolutions, enlightenments, and leaps to the moon and back, and it kept on spinning. The world is fine. We are not. The situation is not good. Good will only come by our commitment to act in its image. Good is being nice to your neighbor, regardless of religion, class, race, sexuality, or party. Good is encouraging excellence and accepting nothing less than the best from all. Good is speaking the truth, even when it may be politically dangerous or socially awkward. Good is checking on friends, allowing others to speak with open ears and an open heart. Good is civil disobedience in the name of justice and the name of peace. I was inspired to become engaged in politics and, in part, the world by President Obama’s victory in 2008, and despite my deep qualms with many of his policies, he has continued to amaze me by the depths of his grace and the vastness of his patience and optimism. Who will Trump inspire? What will come of this once the smug satisfaction wears off and the buyer’s

“The world has seen crises before; it kept spinning. The world has seen empires fall; it kept spinning. It has seen revolutions, enlightenments, and leaps to the moon and back, and it kept on spinning. The world is fine. We are not. The situation is not good. Good will only come by our commitment to act in its image.” executive branch will be populated by some of the most despicable people engaged in politics today. Dissent will be squashed, criticism vilified, and opposition deemed treason. On top of all of this, Trump’s promises to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and nullify all of the progressive work accomplished by President Obama literally places the world in greater danger, putting our allies at unease and our enemies in a state of awe as we unravel ourselves. 9/11 was the realization that we were not immune to attack and that we may have inspired aggression toward ourselves Trayvon Martin was the realization that justice was not just. And Trump is the realization that even our basic social institutions are fallible to demagoguery and blatant populism unseen since Nazi Germany. It is an unacceptable situation, and I do not accept it. That does not change the facts, nor does that mean the solution is violence, although violence will surely come of this. This calls for civil disobedience on a mass scale, and a sincere commitment by all to make the world better from here on out. The world has seen crises before; it kept spinning. The world has

remorse settles in? The inspiration must come from those who have faced dire adversity and fought regardless; we must not become so tied down by our want for happiness that we forget happiness is a privilege earned, not simply bought with distractions and escapism. It is okay to be unhappy, and it is okay to be grieving. It is not okay to accept the unacceptable, to compromise your values, or to accept defeat. The ramifications for defeat are absolute and will make the world a darker, scarier place. To continue the fight, despite the grief, is to continue carrying the torch even when all other lights seem to go out. Only through this can we find each other again and bring our wounds to heal. We make our own history, just not under circumstances of our own choosing. That is our challenge, and it would be wrong to disregard that challenge as simply too difficult or too unimaginable. Even with setbacks, the work itself continues forward. Take this time to consider what needs to be done, what you can do with the talents given to you, and what you can do to inspire good in others. J POLITICS | 13


MORNING Written by Christelle Ram Illustrated by Lya Dominguez

The morning after the 2016 elections I woke up with a headache, Tones varied from place to place—surprise, shock, resignation, bloodshot eyes, and an aching neck. I think I’ll refer to it as a political celebration, and validated suspicion were the overarching emotions hangover—after all, each of the symptoms paralleled the dreaded felt by many across the world. Even before this election, there has morning-after effects. I hesitated to open my eyes, but I could only been a global shift towards a more conservative brand of government. go so long without checking my phone. It had been vibrating since This has been demonstrated in constituent support of Britain’s exit the early hours of the morning, and I, unfortunately, could no longer from the European Union, through the election of rightwing leaders ignore it. My phone was flooded with notifications—missed texts, in Australia and Austria, and in the nationalist movements gaining phone calls, Whatsapp messages, and Facebook notifications. Friends momentum in Sweden, France, and the Netherlands. Many citizens and family members had contacted me looked to the United States as validating after news of the President- elect Donald the pattern of elected governments Trump had hit their side of the world. leaning rightward, but their responses The immediate responses of my peers were far from uniform: disappointment overseas—shock, confusion, disbelief— was expressed, cheers were exchanged, mirrored the general attitude felt by memes were made. The global reaction those living right here in the United could very well be summed up by the States of America. The reverberations litany of text messages and Snapchats I of the election of Donald Trump are not received the day after the election. neatly contained within the confines of “He’s going to make America great American borders. The policies carried out by the United States and its again, Christelle!” That was proclaimed several times by a few friends elected leader create irrevocable and immutable changes throughout in South America. the contemporary world. Each step, handshake, exchange, and law “When are you being shipped back home?” asked another friend enacted may carry a significant impact for global leaders and people from England. across the face of the planet. “I refuse to watch the news; please do not say that man’s name,” Leaders ranging from Russian President Vladimir Putin to declared my Dad, who resides in Guyana. United Nations Secretary Ban-Ki Moon congratulated the newly Abroad, there was a general tone of disbelief and mockery elected president, voicing hope to restore ties and create a more united throughout the primaries and even after the nomination. Donald world. Calls rang in soon after the results were finalized. The election Trump was not taken seriously, and the election was widely seen of Donald Trump was met with a variation of responses; powerful as a joke. Therefore, the national and global shock was even more figures and citizens alike look to the new president with either visceral. In Marrakesh, Morocco, for example, students held protests extreme hope or extreme hesitance. He was greeted with immediate outside the United Nation’s talk on Global Warming due to President congratulations from a variety of world leaders—kudos were Trump’s denial of climate change. London’s American Embassy was presented almost immediately by Vladimir Putin, who declared his surrounded by protestors, and citizens took to social media to express wishes for a more peaceful union between the former Cold War foes the overwhelming waves of shock reverberating around the world. and spoke in favor of a relationship “based on principles of equality, Egyptians have voiced that though a Trump presidency may be good mutual respect and a real accounting each other’s positions.” Leaders for the government, the citizens will suffer, according to The Guardian. of Israel and Palestine echoed these congratulations, Israeli Prime Supporters, however, were still present on a global scale. Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring President Trump a “true President Donald Trump has managed to find popularity in those friend of Israel.” Many world leaders communicate a sense of hope, looking for change, very much paralleling the present attitude of his wishing to repair historically strained relations, as seen in the case of supporters right here in the United States. Donald Trump has found both Russia and China, who have enthusiastically welcomed the new unprecedented popularity in places where, historically, fans of the Administration with open arms. United States have been absent. Israelis have voiced satisfaction that Leaders in Western Europe, however, were more muted in their Trump seems more aggressive in his foreign policy. Russians have cheers, calling the period of his leadership one of “uncertainty.” also backed President Trump, citing his savvy business sense as a German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois characteristic that could bring the two superpowers together. Hollande promised “co-operation” between the superpowers, but Donald Trump is no doubt a polarizing character, and the proof worries over diverging values were articulated, including the changing of that is in the pudding. His election has left the world, in part, in political agendas surrounding tolerance, unity, the preservation of complete shock, and the other part in celebration. His presidency is peace, and the roll back of efforts in response to climate change. In sure to continue this trend. reality, the response of world leaders represents only a small portion I hope that within the next four to eight years my political of the actual global response. Foreign citizens’ responses were as hangover will dissipate. Until then, it seems only fair that the United nuanced, impassioned, and as varied as the responses originating from States—and the world—objectively judge the tenure of President American constituents. Donald Trump . J feedback: POLITICS | 14

“The morning after the 2016 elections I woke up with a headache, bloodshot eyes, and an aching neck. I think I’ll refer to it as a political hangover...”


EXCEPTIONALISM Written by Jack Gabriel Illustrated by Kenzie Helmick

America used to be great. Or at least, that’s what all of my history courses have taught me. We were great when we declared our independence from the tyranny of the British Empire in 1776. We were great when Andrew Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. We were great when we granted women the right to vote in 1920. We were great when we were the first country to send a man to the moon in 1969. Our past is filled with all this greatness. What happened? When I look around today, America does not seem that great. Women are still fighting for equal wages. Black people are fighting against police brutality in the streets. ISIS is wreaking global terror and are not being stopped. The news tells us that China and illegal immigrants are stealing all of our jobs. By all means, we need to make America great again. With this state of mind, I might be able to fathom why someone would consider supporting a candidate who challenges the status quo. But in reality, these examples do not reflect America as a whole. Sure, our past is filled with greatness, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t screw up along the way. America was great when we said that

all men are created equal, but let’s not forget that the same men who wrote those words owned slaves, and slavery wasn’t abolished until the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. America was great when Andrew Jackson defeated the British in New Orleans, but let’s not forget that a little more than a decade later, he would sign the Indian Removal Act as president, resulting in the transplantation of multiple Native American tribes and, thus, the Trail of Tears. Let’s call it what it was: a genocide. Let’s not forget that when women were celebrating their new right to vote, the American government passed the Immigration Act of 1924, limiting the number of immigrants from certain countries who were seen as “inferior stock.” It was the first time eugenicists would play an important role in Congress. At the same time, thirty states were legally practicing eugenic-based compulsory sterilization, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, a ruling that hasn’t been overturned. Nazi Germany even cited the “success” of eugenics in the United States while enacting similar legislation that ultimately led to the Holocaust. Let’s also not forget that while we were fighting the Nazis, we relocated over 100,000 Japanese Americans to internment camps. POLITICS | 15

And let’s not forget that while we were working on sending a man to the moon, we were also overthrowing governments in Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Guatemala. America has a great and storied past, but we have also made some terrible choices that cannot be ignored. History courses don’t always feel the same way though, which is in part due to something called American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is a combination of three ideas. The first is that our history is inherently different from other nations. The second is that we have a unique duty to transform the world. The third is that the first two ideas make America superior to everyone else. The Republican Party has taken this third idea and inflated it beyond belief. In their eyes, the United States is like the biblical “City upon a hill;” we are exempt from issues that have faced other nations and our history is perfect. Over the past decade, this exaggerated view of America as the best country in the world has evidently led to some problems. For the Democrats as well, and Hillary Clinton specifically, American exceptionalism is at work today. Her view is that America is great right now and we must work to maintain

and continuously improve it. To many Republicans, America is the best, enough said. Any doubt about it at all is too much. This has led to arguments about teaching more American exceptionalism in schools. If the goal is to convince people that America is the best, the ideal way then is to only teach the good and disregard the bad. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if you haven’t been living under a rock since the Y2K scare, then you probably understand that a lot can and has gone wrong. This overemphasis of the great points in American history coupled with the ever-increasing violence in the news and the emergence of the 24-hour news cycle has caused people to forget about the issues in the past; we’ve been conditioned to only see the problems America is facing today. The news is filled with countless accounts of violence and corruption, causing people to live in a constant state of fear over whether America, believe it or not, is still

great. Not everyone can see past what they are being shown, however. People see their fellow citizens rioting in the streets on the news. They see images of ISIS beheading journalists and destroying monuments in the Middle East. They hear about companies moving overseas or hiring immigrants, and the only thing they hear and learn about the past is the good. Make America great again, then, makes perfect sense. Enter Donald Trump. The stage couldn’t have been more perfectly set for Trump. With 17 candidates in the field and a base of detached “deplorables” to take advantage of, Trump was able to use his reality TV personality to take over, and ultimately destroy, the Republican Party. All Trump had to do was preach the violence and corruption seen on TV to the environment the Republican Party had been creating for years. Through their loving and inflated lens of American exceptionalism, the Republican Party created Donald Trump.

Through their loving and inflated lens of American exceptionalism, the Republican Party created Donald Trump.

It is interesting to note that even though Trump used American exceptionalism to his advantage, he rejected it. In his view, which he was able to convey to his supporters, America is no longer great and he would be able to make America great again. The very doctrine that the Republicans used to create Donald Trump and the electorate was exactly what Trump rejected, allowing him to win over those voters who sought a change from the status quo, a revival of American greatness. Maybe that’s why Trump will be heading to the White House. Even so, with a nation incredibly divided, Trump has showed us exactly why America’s ugly points need to be remembered. I don’t think there is much that is more cliché than “those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it,” or any other iteration of that saying, but there is no way around it: it’s true. Our history is an important part of who we are, and we need to learn it, all of it. Both the good and the bad brought us to where we are as a nation today. We screwed up in the past, and we will continue to screw up in the future, but as long as we continue to own up to and overcome our shortcomings as a nation, one thing will always stay the same: We were great. We are great. We will always be great. J feedback:


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The Cycle on Inequality

Written by Kenzie Helmick Illustrated by Carmen Cheng

When I was eleven years old, I started my first period. As I looked at the red stain on my shorts, a mixture of emotions flashed through me: shock, fear, discomfort, and most of all, embarrassment. I was so humiliated by the changes in my body that I kept my menstruation a secret from my parents the entire time, unable to openly discuss what was happening. It was not until my mom, while sorting my laundry, noticed the blood on my clothes and realized that I had begun menstruating. Though I wasn’t aware at the time, my embarrassment was driven by an outside societal force, mandating that my body and all its natural processes be condemned, simply because I am a woman. The shaming of female bodies is a common narrative, alienating natural processes

from pregnancy to breastfeeding. In fact, the only time society seems to embrace a woman’s body is when it’s blown up on a billboard, sexualized and half-naked. Menstruation is yet another function of women’s bodies that has been kept hidden from society, warped into a process that is disdained rather than embraced. The stigmatization of menstruation becomes even more severe when we realize it stretches beyond just a woman’s issue. Though this article only addresses the problems faced by cisgender women, periods impact people of all genders, complicating lives already subject to marginalization and oppression. Despite our refusal to talk about periods, menstruation leaves widespread impacts on our society. It’s time to change the stigma.


Women, while menstruating, are “unclean” and should not be allowed to prepare food or enter places of worship. In regions such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, this unspoken law is only one of the many forms of alienation women face in response to a perfectly natural, biological process: their periods. Often guided by deeply entrenched cultural or religious traditions, people in these areas hold intense stigmas towards menstruation and place an enormous burden of shame and embarrassment upon women and young girls. In Nepal, more extreme forms of isolation are imposed upon women through the practice of chhaupadi. Though outlawed by the Nepal Supreme Court in 2005, chhaupadi is still widely practiced by remote villages, requiring young girls to stay and sleep in makeshift huts or cattle sheds during menstruation. Barely big enough for even one person, these sheds are sometimes shared by two or three girls, forcing them to squat or stand for most of the night. During their stay, they face threats of torrential rain, snakes, and sexual assault. Those who follow chhaupadi believe that any violation of the practice will result in retribution from the gods, cursing their family with disease or famine. The result is a strict adherence to a tradition that completely shuns women from society during their period, denying them access to water, their homes, and their families. There is a common phrase shared among menstruating women in Nepal that summarizes their condemnation: “I am now untouchable.” The humiliation and discomfort felt by these women prevents them from safely and hygienically managing their menstruation. Not wanting their hygiene products to be seen, women refuse to hang their washed cloths or rags out to dry, instead hiding them under mattresses or in clothes. These rags then grow bacteria or mold, leading to infections and other health issues. Their problems are only amplified as they are denied access to consistent water sources or private toilets. Fearful that the effects of their menstruation might be seen, women are too ashamed to change or clean their sanitary materials and have no way to dispose of dirty or used products. These unsanitary practices are linked to health problems such as reproductive tract infections, urinary tract infections, anemia, and secondary infertility.

Though it may seem easy to dismiss cases like chhaupadi as problems of another world, the reality is that the stigmatization of periods is a cross-cultural issue, pervading our everyday lives in the United States. We, too, are driven by fear, shame, and an unnecessary need to hide our menstruation. As women, it is still considered disconcerting to discuss outright our periods around others, especially in the presence of men. This discomfort is in part caused by the socialization of men to feel uncomfortable hearing about the menstrual process and often voice their uneasiness at the expense of those menstruating. To most women, the story of my high school’s male softball coach banning the words “tampon,” “period,” and “cramps” from the field because they were “too embarrassing” is not unusual, as they’ve shared nearly exact or similar experiences. The larger problem of the stigmatization of menstruation, however, is that it has ultimately permeated our laws, granting legal legitimacy to attitudes that marginalize women. These ideas manifest into policies such as the Tampon Tax. Most states tax all tangible, personal property, with exceptions for certain “non-luxury” goods. These necessities often include groceries, food stamp purchases, and medicine, things that are considered the basic needs of most people. Not included in the list of essentials? Tampons, pads, or any other form of menstrual hygiene products. Currently, 40 states still tax tampons, while exempting a range of nonsensical items from cowboy hats to bags of chips. Yet unlike accessorizing for a rodeo or having a snack, menstruation is not something women can choose to do. Instead, the tax is a charge for a completely unavoidable and natural process, making the message behind the tampon tax clear: women should be punished for their own bodies. The tampon tax is yet another burden that disproportionately affects the livelihoods of women, who already face countless economic obstacles because of their gender. For every dollar a man makes, a white woman earns 79 cents, and this disparity only grows when we


The stigmatization of menstruation becomes even more severe when we realize it stretches beyond just a woman’s issue. Though this article only addresses the problems faced by cisgender women, periods impact people of all genders, complicating lives already subject to marginalization and oppression.

look at the wage gap for Black and Hispanic women, who receive 60 and 55 cents, respectively. Women are also more likely to be living in poverty, as they’re segregated into low paying “feminine,” care-giver jobs or forced to shoulder the costs and responsibilities of raising children. If a woman becomes homeless, it’s practically impossible for her to obtain menstrual products. Unlike hygiene goods like soap or toilet paper, which can be found for free in public bathrooms, tampons and pads must be paid for out of pocket by homeless women. These products often go unnoticed in charities and shelters, as well. In fact, while there have been recent government campaigns to provide support for items like condoms, essential goods such as tampons and pads still go unfunded. The high cost of menstrual products means that homeless women are left choosing between a meal or a tampon. Keeping these economic inequalities in mind, the tampon tax cannot be dismissed as an insignificant charge. A woman spends nearly $1,800 on tampons over the course of her lifetime, and the tax places immense pressure on incomes already limited by gender biases. The difficulties faced by women over their periods exist because of the stigmatization of menstruation. Our inability to openly discuss the details of menstruation renders its consequences and problems invisible, preventing any possibility of working toward a solution. The source of this systematic disregard for women’s issues lies in the lack of women in positions of power. The underrepresentation of women in politics is why policies like the tampon tax persist and why public access to menstrual products is limited to those who can afford it. Men hold most government and leadership positions, and since they are not affected by menstruation or are too uncomfortable to speak openly about it, they often have no idea of the related problems that pervade society. This issue can also be observed in the Global South, where the engineers and developers designing the sanitation and

water systems are men, unaware of the dire need for a private place for women to manage their menstruation. Their ignorance, intentional or not, means that these problems go unaddressed. The good news is that women and their periods are not completely doomed. There have been several success stories of situations where positive changes were made and the stigmas confronted. In Uganda, a company called Afripads aims to provide affordable and safe menstrual products to women across Africa. The company is dedicated to empowerment, using a 90% female work force to manufacture cost-effective products and tackle the shame and taboo that accompany a woman’s period. In New York City, movements and national campaigns such as Free the Tampon have led to governmental changes confronting menstrual inequality. In June, the city passed the nation’s first legislative package supplying menstrual products in public schools, shelters, and correctional facilities. Yet there’s still more the world can do. We must begin to provide women the opportunity to represent and voice their beliefs. Women offer different perspectives and experiences, which represent their own unique interests and problems that vary from men’s. Yet women are the least represented group in the U.S. Congress, making up a little over half of the nation’s population but only 17% of Congress. We also need more female scientists and engineers, able to take on the infrastructural problems that deny women and girls in the Global South adequate water supplies, privacy, and hygiene. Though these goals are vital to the equality of women, the changes necessary to pursue them require long-term systematic and social overhaul. While that does not mean we should abandon these long-term objectives, we need to focus on immediate change. The first step is to spark dialogue, challenging the stigma and embarrassment towards menstruation. The more we talk about periods, the more visible these issues become. J





Written by Hind Berji Illustrated by Christine Cole and Elise Hickman

The Western world equates personal freedom and expression with the clothing we choose to wear, paying special attention to gendered expression in relation to social behavior. For Muslim women, the pressure is insurmountable, as the ethnocentric obsession over veiled clothing is bigger than ever. The hysteria that surrounds this topic is one that draws criticism, analysis, debate, and personal opinions from almost everyone, Muslim or not. Why is this a controversial topic? Why is it a topic at all? The manufactured image of a Muslim woman is one riddled with suspicion, even though the Virgin Mary, Mother Teresa, Christian nuns, and Hasidic Jewish women cover their hair. There is something about a

veiled Muslim woman that gets under people’s skin. In her essay “The Motivations Behind Westerners’ Obsession with the Islamic Veil,” Claire K. Alexander describes the distinctiveness of the hijab in comparison to other pious modes of dress for women: “The Jewish sheytls (wigs) and Tikhls (scarves), the Christian veil, and the Islamic haïkchador, and hijab (different forms of headscarves)—serve as forms of resistance, allowing women to challenge sexual objectification as well as gain access to the public sphere.” This puts a lot of pressure on Muslim women who are forced to look at themselves through different perspectives, negating the initial goal of

avoiding the male gaze in all its forms. There’s no denying the profound affect that wearing or not wearing a hijab has on Muslim women (a Muslim woman’s choice to remove her veil causes just as much inner turmoil and angst as deciding to wear one). Identities can form through group affiliation, and the veil can even be a divisive garment between Muslim women themselves. Sometimes, the most difficult part is the space in-between—the transition from the private sphere of the home or mosque (where veils are a requirement during prayer) to the public demonstration of their faith. A woman’s choice to wear any type of veil is an extremely personal, intimate decision she makes with

herself and her faith in mind. It isn’t a political statement or an act of defiance. Some women choose to wear it based on their interpretations of certain verses in the Qur’an and/or to align themselves with a set of cultural values and identities, and some wear it to escape the male gaze and gain freedom from sexualization and objectification. Rather than acting as a barrier between privacy and harassment, the hijab has become a gateway for discrimination, harassment, and even fetishization. In her book Battle for God, historian Karen Armstrong writes about the resurgence of the veil in Islam as not just a symbol against colonial practices, but also as a critical moment for postcolonial and feminist ideas in the Muslim world: “Arab writers refused to accept this [colonialist] estimate of their society, and in the course of this heated debate the veil turned into a symbol of resistance to colonialism. And so it has remained...By using feminist arguments for which most [British] had little or no sympathy, as part of their propaganda, the colonialists tainted the cause of feminism in the Muslim world, and helped to distort the faith by introducing an imbalance that had not existed before.” The West doesn’t really care about the oppression of Muslim women; it cares about trying to colonially modify the garment on its own terms. Western feminists like the Ukrainian activist group Femen, an organization that

once told Muslim women that their topless cultural or religious bounds. The garments protests would liberate them from patriarchal and culture may be different, but the slavery, are ironically quite confused, emphasis will always be on women. oppressed, and sexualized themselves. (The Demonizing a piece of fabric so person behind Femen is a man by the name controversial it isolates, condemns, or purifies of Victor Svyatski, who started the group by whoever wears it is ridiculous within any selecting “the prettiest cultural framework. girls” for topless The same can be said protests against issues for shorts, mini skirts, “...By using feminist arguments like sex trafficking). or bikinis. There is an for which most [British] had little or So what happened to underlying recognition intersectionality? Beset no sympathy, as part of their propaganda, of how society dictates by modern neocolonial the way women should the colonialists tainted the cause of discourse, some nonpresent themselves in feminism in the Muslim world, and helped the Western world, Muslim feminists decide to take pity on but the criticism is to distort the faith by introducing an these “oppressed” one-sided. We criticize imbalance that had not existed before.” the commodification women and even appropriate their veils The West doesn’t really care about and sexualization of to walk in their shoes women’s bodies, but the oppression of Muslim women; chastise women who for a day. Let’s set the record straight: no wear the hijab. it cares about trying to colonially non-Muslim feminist What is this modify the garment on is doing any Muslim fascination with the woman a favor by freedom to clothe its own terms. modeling a hijab or or unclothe oneself? protesting against it. Women should not Consider this: all women are analyzed exist as aesthetic objects; we do not function primarily on their appearances as visual to contain the normative and the desirable. markers and representatives of society’s Furthermore, not all women necessarily values; we are burdened with the task of share the same concerns, so defining them setting moral standards for social behaviors. solely by their gender and religion is more Women are responsible for controlling the than oppressive. Remember, oppression sexual desires of men—that idea knows no is often unrecognizable, and it takes many SOCIETY AND CULTURE | 22

forms, succeeding in its divisiveness. If we were to believe for even a moment that this is opening up a larger discussion about the relationship between physical appearances in terms of piety, then we’re only lying to ourselves. Interesting topic, yes, but let’s be frank: that isn’t what this is about. It’s about controlling an image. People are paranoid over images of observant Muslims, assuming they are a threat—a disturbance; an interruption, really—to their day-to-day lives and to Western civilization. While Muslim men who wear traditional garb are no strangers to discrimination, Muslim women are the manifestation of the West’s sinister perceptions of Islam. Because of this production of the Muslim world as medieval and backwards—the inhabitants of barren, destitute lands and even more barren, destitute ideals—Muslims have been the international scapegoats of our paranoid, post-9/11 world. This idea is so pervasive, so toxic that it has permeated government and political action against Muslim women who choose to wear veils. It has come to the point where we cannot discuss veils outside of a political or academic environment, sometimes forgetting that human beings with agency choose to wear them. Women’s Islamic dress is considered an emblem of oppression and the threat of radicalization. The niqab or burqa appear to be garments used to silence women or make

them disappear from public life. But using oppression as a buzzword, a springboard to justify colonial practices or human rights violations, also adds to the oppression of Muslim women by Western figures, who implement legal procedures and practices to shun them out of public life. At this point, it isn’t their religion or culture that is silencing them or taking away their agency; it’s the conversations that take place about their appearances. In Europe, public safety is used as an excuse to discriminate against and deter Muslims . The emergence of conservatism in Western Europe has led to overall antiimmigrant, Islamophobic climates, but it is France’s unwavering, staunch ban on the veil that criminalizes Muslim women the most. According to BBC News, only 2,000 women out of the five million Muslim immigrants in France wear veils, but that didn’t stop France’s ban on wearing the niqab or burqa in public from going into effect in April 2011. The law was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2014, stating that any woman who refuses to unveil in public when prompted by law enforcement would be forced to pay a fine and take citizenship classes. Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president at the time of the initial implementation in 2011, claimed the veils were an assault on France’s secularism and gender equality—but can you achieve gender equality when you politicize and police a SOCIETY AND CULTURE | 23

woman’s body? France’s secularism, or its separation of church and state, is at the basis of the country’s constitution, but considering the way France unapologetically fans its Islamophobic attitudes, it certainly seems like they’re targeting Muslims. We know the last thing France needs is to alienate its Muslim population, but it’s awfully good at doing just that. Similar implementations of niqab and burqa bans have found their way across Europe, including in Turkey where, up until October 2013, the veil was banned in civil spaces and office buildings. Turkey’s secular establishment later recognized the difficulties in shutting out young women from academic and career opportunitiewws; why can’t France follow a similar approach? When you criminalize a woman’s appearance, you are expelling her from civic and public life. Studies show that veiled Muslim women expect to make less money and receive fewer job offers, and they are considered less friendly and intelligent by both Muslim and non-Muslim men in their communities. Public perceptions of the veil do more than alienate Muslim women: they release a set of implications that can severely threaten their lives. Muslim women are some of the biggest victims of radicalism and xenophobic hate acts worldwide. When will the U.S. and Europe get over its veil obsession to ensure cultural integration? J feedback:


Written Writt rittenn byy Dr. Drr. Lisa sa M. Tillmann Tiillmann mann On September 13, 2016, Garrison Keillor performed at Rollins, where I have taught since 1999. White, Christian, and middleclass, I grew up in small-town Minnesota, a place resonant of Lake Wobegon. I long have regarded Keillor as an American treasure. Our guest opened with a sing-along: “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Keillor then offered these sung words: “Oh, no matter what you may hear, we are one country.” Given his reputation as, in the words of Joshua Rigsby, “a stalwart political leftist,” I wondered if Keillor had in mind a “great white snapping turtle,” as he called one of the 2016 presidential candidates. Keillor continued, “We all know the words to roughly the same songs.” At this, I looked around the gymnasium of our college (whose annual tuition runs $46,520); the crowd largely consisted of baby boomers and was overwhelmingly white—some of whom paid $50 for “exclusive” seating, nearly a full day’s work at minimum wage. Who is the “we,” I wondered, who “know the words to roughly the same songs”? Arun Gandhi, on campus to talk about “nonviolence in a violent world,” sat behind me. If he sang, “sweet land of liberty,”

I couldn’t hear. Intoned Keillor, “And so no matter what differences may exist between us—which I’m not going to bring up tonight… nonetheless we are one people.” This is classic Keillor, a folksy beacon toward shared humanity. Still, I sensed that by directing our attention away from differences, Keillor could be singing about Colin Kaepernick as much as the “snapping turtle.” The latter likely had more supporters in the room than the former. Two days before, my partner John and I discussed the 2016 football season, including Kaepernick’s national anthem protests, which had continued and spread. We commiserated about vitriol articulated by whites more incensed by protests of racism than by systemic racism itself. I lamented the lack of white allies sitting or kneeling next to their teammates of color. At the same time, I reflected on my own athletic “career,” which ended, due to lack of further talent, after senior year of high school. I cannot imagine I would have been brave—or conscious—enough to sit or kneel during the national anthem. Indeed, once as a member of the Marquette University choir, I sang the national anthem at a Brewer game. As someone with multiple layers of CAMPUS AFFAIRS | 24

unearned advantage, I cannot fully apprehend what it must take for these athletes to risk scorn and to undercut their livelihoods. But as a person who has learned with and from students, colleagues, and friends of color for many years, I’ve done enough homework to respect and honor the protest. To any (white) person who cannot imagine what would lead a person to sit, kneel, or offer a Black power salute during the national anthem, I urge you to read Kali Holloway’s compilation of racist perceptions, watch videos collected by Damien Cave and Rochelle Oliver of police injuring and killing persons of color, and read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Matt Taibbi’s The Divide. Then post on social media. After Keillor’s sung remarks, he engaged us in the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” released in 1963, four years before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws barring interracial marriage in 16 states, including Florida. From there, “Amazing Grace,” published in 1779 by former slave trader John Newton. Then “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” whose 1894 version included a verse in minstrel dialect. Then “America the Beautiful” again. “O beautiful for pilgrim feet/Whose stern, impassioned stress/A





thoroughfare of freedom beat/Across the wilderness!” I guess those last two lines sound more exuberant than “An economy built on genocide/Land grabs and slavery!” After the sing-along, Keillor transitioned into his quirky humor. We heard bits about sadistic dentistry and death by refrigerator mishap. Toward the end, our guest observed, “Life is good. You learn this when you’re old, and you’re done with all of your complaints. It’s an amazing world that we live in no matter what anybody says. It’s a beautiful world. We live on this little well-protected island in a world of trouble and grief and suffering… So we should be grateful…” For me, too, life can be quite good. Then again, I don’t live in fear that the (white) boys of my family will be cut down the way Tamir Rice was. I hope Keillor was thinking more

of the “snapping turtle” than of Black Lives Matter when he chose the word “complaints.” “It’s an amazing world,” yes, and a terrible one. “It’s a beautiful world,” yes, and an ugly one. “We”—Garrison Keillor and I—live on “well-protected island[s]” (his island more lavish than mine, and additionally garrisoned by male privilege). Many others do not live on such an island; many others right here in the U.S. live in a “world of trouble and grief and suffering.” When appropriate, we should “be grateful,” of course, but we also must be discerning. Keillor closed with a final singalong. First, “How Great Thou Art,” a Christian hymn written as a poem in 1885, 69 years (a lifetime) before Brown v. Board of Education. Then “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” composed 4 years before the 13th Amendment abolished slavery.

“For me, too, life can be quite good. Then again, I don’t live in fear that the (white) boys of my family will be cut down the way Tamir Rice was.”


Then, as I feared, Keillor began, “Oh say, can you see by the dawn’s early light…” In waves, the crowd rose to its feet for “The Star Spangled Banner,” written in 1814—a half century of slavery still to come. I thought of the white football players I keep hoping will join their teammates. Certainly I (a tenured full professor whose livelihood does not rely on endorsements) cannot ask something of them I’m not willing to do myself. “I’m not standing,” I told my partner John. “I’m not either,” he said. The on-its-feet crowd encircled us, all but erasing our sit-in of solidarity. Perhaps six people saw us, and likely only one person of color: Arun Gandhi. This may not be your—or Garrison Keillor’s—way of plugging into racial justice movements. And, of course, the work extends far beyond what individuals elect to do when the national anthem plays. I hope we can work together to create the kind of nation in which everyone feels moved to rise, hand over heart.„ Lisa M. Tillmann, PhD, is professor and chair of Critical Media and Cultural Studies at Rollins College. feedback:




Undoubtedly, the climate situation around the world has worsened significantly since the Rollins Coalition for Sustainable Investment last published an article for The Independent. Since December, global temperature records have been broken, an alarming number of species have gone extinct, and the lives of people around the world have been devastated. This year is shaping up to be the hottest on record; record temperatures seem to be shattered every day with an average increase of more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit globally since the year 1999. Some of our most precious ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef have suffered almost complete destruction, and people have been displaced from their homes from conflicts ignited by water shortage. During the time that all of these events transpired and continued to escalate, the Rollins Coalition for Sustainable Investment, or RCSI, has been imploring the Board of Trustees to consider removing a portion of our school’s endowment of more than $360 million in fossil fuels, an industry that is continuing to exacerbate the global situation. RCSI is the student-led, oncampus divestment campaign with three goals: 1) Freeze any new investments in fossil fuels. 2) Divest from fossil fuels within 2-4 years. 3) Reinvest at least one percent of those investments in socially responsible funds, or SRIs. These goals have been circulated throughout the student body in the form of a petition, which over 500 individuals have signed. Our three goals have been set before the Student Government Association and faculty in the form of a resolution, which both have endorsed. Since the group was founded last year, RCSI and Rollins College as a whole have made notable progress. The Board of Trustees have been made aware of the campus’ desire to distance itself financially from the fossil fuel industry. As the section of the Board that manages the investment of the

endowment, the Investment Committee intended to discuss the possibility of divestment and the adoption of the school’s resolution in their meeting last October. Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication between the Investment Committee and the school’s investing consultant group Prime Buchholz, divestment was not conclusively resolved. In the same meeting, however, the committee rejected a $4 million dollar fossil fuel investment that was proposed by Prime Buchholz and has dedicated concerted effort to begin the exploration of more sustainable and socially responsible investments for the future.

“As the mission statement currently stands, any current and future investments in the socially and environmentally devastating fossil fuel extraction industry are antithetical to Rollins College.” As a part of this effort, RCSI will be in attendance at the Investment Committee’s next quarterly meeting in January to represent the voices of those in the Rollins College community who expect the Board to invest the endowment within the ethical parameters of the mission statement. Although the Board has not fully accepted RCSI’s resolution, they certainly have started to take the actions of RCSI and those for whom they speak seriously. What still remains unclear is how the Investment Committee considers our mission statement relevant to RCSI’s investments. Although divestment certainly has its financial merits, the strongest argument for divestment lies in the school’s mission statement:


Rollins College educates students for global citizenship and responsible leadership, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers. We are committed to the liberal arts ethos and guided by its values and ideals. Our guiding principles are excellence, innovation, and community. …We are dedicated to scholarship, academic achievement, creative accomplishment, cultural enrichment, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship. Global citizenship, social responsibility, and environmental stewardship are ideals that have direct links to the implications of climate change. (For an overview of the divestment debate, see “The Case for Fossil Fuel Divestment: Global Citizenship and Environmental Stewardship in the Age of Greed” by Scott Novak in the December 2015 edition of The Independent or visit As the mission statement currently stands, any current and future investments in the socially and environmentally devastating fossil fuel extraction industry are antithetical to Rollins College. Yet, the Board and the Investment Committee in particular have been able to evade adopting the common sense resolution by hiding behind strictly financial or bureaucratic arguments that completely disregard the moral prerogative of the mission statement. The counter arguments are poignant. The bylaws of the Board indicate there is a strict separation between the school and the Investment Committee. According to the bylaws of Rollins College as of 2014, the Investment Committee is charged with presumably autonomous authority over “the conduct of investment and endowment activities.” Thankfully, these bylaws protect the school’s reputably large endowment from risky and speculative actions on part of administration, faculty, or even students. Nonetheless, the bylaws also undermine the democratic clout of the resolution put forth by the campus, and fail to enforce any kind of ethical or moral framework for the committee to consider while investing the school’s endowment. While the rest of the school is held to the

“Investing in an industry that profits from the exploitation of natural resources, the destruction of vital ecosystems, the disregard of indigenous peoples’ rights, and the global discrepancies in equity negates every on-campus initiative for sustainability and social justices a million times over.” standard of the mission statement, the Investment Committee has no standard in their considerations for investments besides increasing returns. Furthermore, the Board has absolutely no structural pressure to accept the goals of the school, even if every student, faculty member, staff member, and alumni stood in solidarity behind them. Politically, the separation of powers plays a strategic and vital role in the stability of our institution, but stability requires countless adjustments. For the integrity of our school, this is one adjustment that we must make as our world rushes toward unprecedented global trials. This is why RCSI asks the Board to consider the contents of the resolution, not just on the grounds that fossil fuel investments are continuing to become riskier, but more importantly on the grounds that burning fossil fuels endangers the lives of our current and future students. Investing in an industry that profits from the exploitation of natural resources, the destruction of vital ecosystems, the disregard of indigenous peoples’ rights, and the global discrepancies in equity negates every oncampus initiative for sustainability and social justice a million times over. It is impossible to overlook the fact that nearly every aspect of our lives is made possible by fossil fuels. This country would likely fall into chaos if suddenly all the fossil fuel reserves ran dry. Luckily, we as global citizens can begin to change that by investing in renewable energies

and the infrastructure they require to diminish our reliance of fossil fuels. Business as usual will only perpetuate the tragedy of climate change at home and abroad, but as global citizens, we are obligated to think critically about how our actions impact our neighbors. This journey begins with a single step, and hopefully this resolution can be a stepping-stone to a more sustainable and just future for Rollins and the global community. Already, over 50,000 individuals, 600 institutions, and 50 cities have committed to divestment, adding up to approximately $3.4 trillion divested. What is most important to this movement is support from the students and the community. Divestment is a global movement because it affects every living thing on this planet. Divestment is also one of the few opportunities we as students have to make tangible changes towards combating climate change. For those who have already dedicated their time and resources, thank you for supporting and being a part of our campaign thus far. We plan to capitalize on the momentum that we have gained from your efforts. RCSI is not going anywhere, and we hope for your continued support. For those who are looking for ways to get involved, keep an eye out for events and actions sponsored by RCSI on campus, or stop by one of our weekly meetings. For more information, or if you want to add your name to the petition, visit J



Down the Rabbit Hole Written by Amber Appel Illustrated by Carmen Cheng

It’s too late for me. I didn’t meet a rabbit running late, I didn’t get swept away by the green wind, and I never found Duotine pills to take. I never went down that rabbit hole, and now that I’m 21, I must accept that I never will. The cutoff date for young girls to be whisked away to Wonderland, Fairyland, or the second reality seems to be anchored at 11—I’m 10 years too late. But it’s okay, because I lived these adventures through the three fictional young girls who did get to traverse the border between reality and absurdity. Fantasy, as a genre, has amazing potential to bend what we know into something unknown, and its writers, especially these three, are chemists who can stir the mundane into a new and wonderful whole. But, I am taking a closer look at one particular niche within these three stories, and I shall name it “Down the Rabbit Hole.”

Though these three bright and brilliant stories may seem incomparable at first, they have some interesting commonalities, All begin with a young girl, whose thoughts are not yet on romance and adulthood, whose mind is mature enough to act and think, yet who is also open to adventure, adversity, and amazement. Without this girl, the story could not commence. Alice would notice the rabbit but dismiss it to turn back to her book. September would not choose to climb out the kitchen window; she would shirk away from the leopard and man floating outside the sill. And Fran, oh Fran, would likely never be curious enough to explore, escape the asylum, and instead resign herself to depression and ignorance. Instead, these girls can face anything because they are curious. And it’s a good thing too, because there is plenty to explore.

Curious as to where the rabbit went? Come find out!


Fran Bow Fran Bow is a point-and-click, independently made computer game that follows the adventures of Fran Bow. The game starts with a haunting face and the words, “everything’s fine”—but trust me, it is not. The story begins with Fran Bow, an innocent, playful, tenyear-old girl whose now finds herself in the Oswald Asylum after witnessing her parents’ horrific murder by dismemberment. She is in shock, but she believes that the best use of her time is to leave the asylum to find her best friend, cat, and guide, Mr. Midnight, and work to solve her parent’s murder. But in order to do that, she must escape the house of madness. That’s where you come in. In each room, Fran (you) must find the items and tools you need to progress. You collect, use, combine, and examine the objects. Combine a bobby pin with a hook and create a key to leave your room, for example. What you need to do to progress is not always straightforward; it takes creativity— something that this game never lacks. But you’ll find that combining items isn’t enough to escape; you also need to enter the ultrareality. Just like with the DC multiverse, this game uses multiple realities to make the levels and story more intricate. In each room, after exploring every opportunity possible, it’s time to trigger the

ultrareality. At the start of the game, Fran is given special pills to help with her diagnosed mental disorder: little red pills called Duotine that have some serious side effects. Along with the purse you use to collect and combine items, you are also armed with Duotine pills that, once taken, distort whatever room you’re standing in to the extreme. Think of the “upside-down” in Stranger Things; it’s like the real world, but scarier. To progress in the game and travel further into an increasingly insane world, you (Fran) must bravely switch between realities and explore the huge gothic world of Fran Bow. Fran Bow is an incredibly clever game with a compelling story that is sure to make you wonder who is really the insane one as Fran goes deeper into the ultrareality and deals with the losses in her life. The House of Madness is only chapter one of five. Each chapter holds a different theme and difficulty with a barrage of quirky characters, like Palontras of Ithersta; Itward of the flying machine; Remor, the prince of Darkness; and Mother Mabuka of the fifth reality. If none of those words made sense to you, I’m glad, because you can still discover their meaning by playing Fran Bow. Also—I would advise you not play this before bed unless you want to have some trippy dreams.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland The most well known and widely loved story of its kind, no one knows how to fall down a rabbit hole like Alice. Such grace! Such precession! My first descent into Wonderland was through Disney’s rendition of Lewis Carroll’s book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Many children loved this colorful tale, but I found it terrifying. Tenplus years later, I decided to grab my spelunking gear and travel once more down the rabbit hole to see what I might find, and so I brought the original book home, read the first line, and fell. Alice is a girl just seven years old who is bored with reading a book without pictures or conversation when she first spies a rabbit famously running late. It’s no wonder that she abandoned her book to follow such a peculiar creature; I imagine most would do the same. She follows this rabbit, without hesitation, down a rabbit hole. Her fall isn’t fatal, but it does transport her to a new and curious world. In this newfound world, Alice does not react how we would expect her to—none of these young heroines ever do—for Alice asks questions, worries, and explores like a young girl filled with

curiosity and a mind unburdened with expectations. When she is confronted at the bottom of her fall with a small bottle with the message “Drink me” on it, she is suspicious, but only enough to check to see if it reads “poison” as well before drinking it. She is not surprised by the drink’s presence and she is not surprised by its shrinking effects, even when she stands only 10 inches high. She carries this adaptability and accepting nature with her as she traverses Wonderland. I respect this book and its ability to display amazing feats of bedlam while instilling in me a feeling of acceptance that superseded my instinct to blurt out, “What the hell?” as mock turtles sang, roses were painted red, and dodos raced for thimbles. The key to understanding Wonderland is Alice herself. Without her gumption and endless curiosity, Lewis Carroll’s novel would not have lasted more than a century. It’s an incredible gift to turn the ordinary into extraordinary, but even more amazing to turn the extraordinary into the ordinary and accept the fact that, “We’re all mad here.”

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making September was a girl who was tired of washing pink-and-yellow teacups and of her home in Nebraska, and that is the perfect time to be swept away. Just like Dorothy and Toto were swept away from Kansas, one state below, September is taken by the winds too. More specifically by the Green Wind, who shows up at her kitchen window with the Leopard of Little Breezes and offers to take her away. She accepts, and away they go. Fairyland has more wonder than madness and more imagination than wonder. Everything about this book is beautiful. The story is written in first person, but September, while the heroine, is not the narrator. Rather, the narrator is unnamed, and speaks with a kindness that delivers the words to you like a mother reading a bedtime story. The language used feels magical, and there is sweetness and wisdom in its characters. In Fairyland, September quickly finds herself abandoned by her guide, but it does not take long for her to make friends or enemies. Fairyland is a marvelous place, but when September enters it she finds it ruled by the Marquees, whose jurisdiction is viciously

controlling Fairyland. Before September can enjoy her stay, she finds that she is pitted against and threatened by the Marquees, who send her off on a dangerous and spectacular adventure around Fairyland. September’s first friend is named A-through-L (Ell for short); he is a wyvern and believes his wyvern mother’s story when she claims that Ell’s father is in fact a library. A-through-L, the “wyvernary”, is named thus because he knows anything that starts with A-through-L (his brother and sister know the rest). Ell is likely the gentlest, cleverest, and most adorable dragon-like character to ever exist, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. Together, Ell, September, and a marid named Saturday must find a way to overcome the Marquees and restore Fairyland to a land of freedom. This book must be read slowly so as to not miss anything, not a word, because the author, Catherynne M. Valente, has created a world that can grab you tight and whisk you away. Every word adds to the magic. So if you dare, put down your pink-and-yellow teacups and climb out the window. Fairyland awaits. J






i was am will be the resplendence of lost things of ages past with names that are not my name in the woods which were woods once now manicured navigable and soulless and these are those spells from my childhoods i. this is fire (us with waxy pomegranate teeth winsome little candle-warmed men with harsh horrible hot silver eyes you are not afraid of me) ii. this is water (we sit alone ourselves for clammy hours eons eternities there are books to be read and bones to break blood sigils to be traced upon inner thighs i become afraid of me) iii. this is earth (us alongside our secrets picnicking mercury mulled lecithin toasts to insectile dirty dusty desolate ritualized deaths we do not know what fear is yet) iv. this is air (we are falling far with slipping tripping jumping wings unfurl colorless and legs lengthen clawed a death we could never choose for the one we love we will know fear again someday)

GOODBYE UNCLE by Barabara Hughes

Tonight, my Uncle died, leaving our grip into darkness, his waking life flickering out fitful dreams finally come to pass He now stands before me in the flesh of a cloudy dream I form the words How are you Uncle? from my mouth as he fades looking frailer than I remember full of life he was Greek wine and smooth love songs of days gone Backgammon played till morning one checker moving five points forward

DEATH OF ADONIS by Caitlin Cherniak

Those dastards Damn the boar for my blood split on the land before my feet Damn the jealous hearts for taking away every breath I have left The pain stabs me like a knife through bread I am dehydrated, and blood won’t quench my thirst My heart, it breaks for her, Venus The peace of war, key to love, And the one who carries my dying corpse in her bloody arms Her tears stain my face as my eyes grow dim Our melancholy farewell kills me more than my wounds Venus, my darling, forgive my forceful leave from this world, But I swear to return when you feel lonely I swear to be your guide back to your gifted calling, For I am your one, only Adonis

Cigar smoke swirls around the love we have for him He inspired me in his broken English a thirst for knowledge his sentences in riddles making cousins laugh until we cried

tears are here again Goodbye, Riddle Man only this time your sad riddle makes sense

Photography By Lya Dominguez

Cheater’s View. Written By Christelle Ram Illustrated By Lya Dominguez

Do you still shiver when New York air touches your spine? Do you still smile when hands reach around your neck? Do you still dance when you eat noodles and have you given your soul up to that guy up on the east side like you did for me once upon a time? Sometimes I wonder if you still text my mom, she says you don’t, but I know how close you two became, and I think still to this day you were everything that she wanted for me. I don’t think she’ll forgive me. She still brings up the pie you used to make every Thanksgiving and I’m convinced the cold silences that characterize our phone calls are because she’s mourning the future that I could have had but I really didn’t deserve. Moms tend to wish us the best, but in typical fashion, I fucked it up. It’s not something that I’m proud, of course, but it’s something I’ve come to terms with. I’ve probably slept with every decent looking thing this side of the Hudson, but I can’t say anything has compares to you. I remember how I used to complain those few first few months that we were together. You were always so eager to please. You made me lunch and you made me smile, and I used to hate the way that you stuck around every morning. Your skin was too hot and you somehow managed to stick around

way too long. And to this day I still don’t understand. I can’t bring myself to comprehend what you saw within the confines of this soul. And I’ve had a ball convincing myself that people don’t matter. I’ve had a ball convincing myself that alone is the thing that I desire the most, and you know, most nights I manage to persuade myself just that. The first couple months after you left, I acted as if you were nothing and that I was missing nothing. You were too skinny and you were too young and you were too mouthy and you liked arguing more than any sensible woman should. You were everything, I convinced myself in those first couple of months, that I didn’t need. But it’s been like, what? Three years? Who the fuck am I kidding. I used to go through our things. I still do, actually. I just figured I should start off talking as if I didn’t miss you because it allows me a bit of dignity. Dignity that I’m losing the more that I write to you. I go through the silk slips you’d leave haphazardly around my place. One or two are still here. You were messy and we got into more fights than I could count over it, but you didn’t care enough to pick up your shit. You spent so much time in my apartment and all we did was sleep and study


“I miss you, is what I’m trying to say.

But I’m getting better at handling it.

and you’d leave on the nights when my arms weren’t the thing that could keep you together but of course you’d leave your goddamn clothes on my floor because it’s you and you never bothered looking back after you decided to leave and that’s a lesson that I have yet to learn to swallow. And you know what’s worse? I keep those slips and those pictures and those poems and the lingerie I used to tear into threads those nights when it was too cold to leave my apartment and those nights you loved me enough to let me put my hands around. By god I hate you and even more that I can’t erase you from my sheets and my skin and my soul. It’s ridiculous and it’s stupid but I’ve learned recently that it’s hard to get rid of everything that you’ve touched. I’ve tried, believe me, to erase every mark you may have ever left on me. The scratches on my back don’t remain, but those words you said when you left are still seared into the bits of me that I can’t scrub off. “I’ll never really be your only girl,” you said with your teary eyes. And I know you hated crying because you’d fight it until your heart had no choice but to spill over in your eyes but you cried anyway— the way I knew you were really hurting. And I knew because your mouth got small and your eyes got big and tears would only run from your left eye until your blatant disregard for involuntary reaction was overpowered and it spread as if it was contagious to your other eye and your cheeks would become wet trails and your voice would catch in your throat and you’d pause, only for a second, waiting to see if I could say something or grab you back and I know you expected me to say, “But it’s only you,” but I didn’t and I never would because it’s not in my nature. To be honest, it was never only you and though I

promised at some point it would be, I never bothered to stop seeing that white girl from the corner of Fifth and Park. And more so, it would never truly be me if I begged, so I watched you leave. It was early spring and I saw the brown of your hair swirl behind you as you ran down that flight of stairs and I didn’t care because I could still taste your lips and I could still remember your touch and I knew you’d come back because you put up with me, every bit of me, and I thought you’d always keep me somewhere near. I lit my cigarette and I closed the door and you left and I was so happy. I even invited that girl to warm the side of the bed that was yours for the past three years. I called up that girl I told you was just a friend not even five minutes after you left and I didn’t think you and your soul would stick around… lingering like the smell of smoke you hated the taste of. Suddenly it was summer and I kept with that thing from the west side and she may have been boring but she didn’t leave her toothbrush at my place; when she was gone she was gone, and I wish the same could be said for you. And I didn’t realize it but I used to turn my head, those first months, as it hit the pillow, first left then right, and I’d touch my chest, the part your head would curl under when you slept and I’d remember your heat and your breath and the curve of your chest and then sleep was gone. I used to blame you for my dark eyes without you knowing, did you know? It’s been three years and I figure it’s an appropriate time to at least pretend I can converse with you. We were together for three years, going on four, and it was actually the first time we were going to have Thanksgiving at your parent’s house and I was going to try all the foods you used to make fun of me for being unable to eat.

It’s ridiculous and it’s stupid but I’ve learned recently that it’s hard to get rid of everything that you’ve touched. I’ve tried, believe me, to erase every mark you may have ever left on me. The scratches on my back don’t remain, but those words you said when you left are still seared into the bits of me that I can’t scrub off.


This letter is never going to end up being sent and I’ll probably burn it, or so I’ll tell myself. But on the off chance that you come back, I’ll be here.

“It’s just food,” you’d giggle to yourself as my face grew bright red and my eyes would water. I grumbled and complained at the spices that you kept in my apartment “This isn’t Liberty Ave, baby,” I’d mumble beneath my breath but you’d keep your shit in my pantry and you’d twirl around and kiss me when I complained until I got quiet. You knew how to make me silent. That’s something I remember. You knew how to quell the demons in my head, and the mumbles in my mind. I miss you, is what I’m trying to say. but I’m getting better at handling it. I’m doing well, though. Don’t get me wrong. I’m successful and I’m working and I’m writing the book I always told you I was never going to get to. But I did and I know if you were here you’d tell me to use more semi-colons and synesthesia, but you’re not here so my writing is as raw and as real and as unpoetic as I pride myself in being. I got the job I always said I wasn’t going to and it wasn’t because of anyone or anything but me. You always told me something like that was going to happen, but you were also foolish and young and blindly optimistic so it was increasingly hard to take you seriously. But maybe the shit you spewed just to comfort me wasn’t all nonsensical. You were right, apparently— I’m brilliant and I’m going places, you know. I want you know. I think you should know. This letter is never going to end up being sent and I’ll probably burn it, or so I’ll tell myself. But on the off chance that you come back, I’ll be here. J feedback:


TO THE STAFF OF THE INDEPENDENT FOR THEIR 2016 CSPA AWARDS: Second Place Gold Circle Awards Use of a designed or art headline “Answering Questions About Visual Impairment” by Carmen Cheng Informational graphics “The Independent Student Opinion Survey” by Carmen Cheng and Mary Catherine Pflug

Third Place Gold Circle Awards Essay “A Man’s Call for Open Dialogue About Sexual Assault” by Daniel Udell Non-fiction interview “Answering Questions About Visual Impairment” by Lauren Bishop and Morgan McConnell

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 Kimberly Morris, 37 Akyra Monet Murray, 18 Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 Martin Benitez Torres, 33 Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 Luis S. Vielma, 22 Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 Jerald Arthur Wright, 31



The Independent Edition 4 Issue 1  
The Independent Edition 4 Issue 1