there is a joke among indians that our families never seem to smile in photographs. but this seems to be a strategy that we are losing in the diaspora
growing up i remember learning the names of relatives like the ways we are taught to identify constellations in the night sky: always looking from a distance trying to determine lines and shapes to recall should we be so fortunate enough to meet in person one day
i come from a family of shitty digital photographs of old people not smiling — with hearts made out of thousands of phone cords hugging tightly – attached to emails from across the ocean inundated with so many prayers and blessings that sometimes i think i could break all the rules and still be okay (cause grandma’s got me covered for life)
you see this is what it means to be of diaspora: to embrace half of your family as low quality photos of wrinkles and frowns is to become intimately familiar with the dust of a family album, the static of a phone receiver, the stories of a time and country always on the other side of your palm where the brownest parts of you reside
so family is never really about the kiss, the hug, the touch. it is more of a feeling that we learn how to carry deep inside our chests it is more of a type of connection that no border can swallow it is about hearing the news across the receiver that one of those stars thousands of miles away flickered out and maybe you only saw it once or twice but you are still weeping because you remember the aluminum of a voice remember the grayest of eyes remember that scowl and how deeply and defiantly it loved you amidst it all
but to be of the diaspora means that you are growing accustomed to this perpetual feeling of loss how much sense it makes to experience it in this country where they have tried their best to rid you of your ancestors (so they can call you their own) and all of the other ways of being before the smile they forced on your face that moment they took your photo after granting you a college degree and stealing your native tongue after giving you a pay raise and sending a bomb across the ocean after reminding you american and reminding ‘them’ terrorist
you see this is what it means to be of diaspora: to not be able to isolate the grief of one passing from another sort of passage, to become so familiar of losing that we become comfortable with mispronouncing our names and our faces with features that were never meant for us and we do not have a language to explain to the constellations that we were already lonely before they left us
so maybe i am terrified of my own smile because it reveals the vastness of an ocean and just how much we are capable of losing and how much we have already lost
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - this is an original poem by alok vaid-menon. please consider supporting the artist.
“Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear. And my Ivy League, my MIT students are the same. All I feel coming off of my students is fear. That if you slip up in school, if you get one bad grade, if you make one fucking mistake, the great train of wealth will leave you behind. And that’s the logic of accreditation. If you’re at Yale, you’re in the smartest 1% in the world. […] And the brightest students in the world are learning in fear. I feel it rolling off of you in waves. But you can’t learn when you’re afraid. You cannot be transformed when you are afraid.”—
“What is disaster pornography? Africans define it as the Western media’s habit of blacking out Africa’s stock markets, cell phones, heart surgeries, soaring literacy and increasing democratization, while gleefully parading its genocides, armed conflicts, child soldiers, foreign debts, hunger, disease and backwardness.”—Gbemisola Olujobi, Nigerian journalist (Via the December 2007 issue of Ebony magazine) (via the-cat-inside)
“Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change, of actually becoming larger, spiritually, than we were before. Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant. Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening. Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize that we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of the personality is about to be revealed.”—Alice Walker, Living by the Word (via larmoyante)
no, let’s talk cultural commodification - what you steal from my house, rip from the pages of my history, place as a quirk on your personality resume; call it a color run or a fascination with saris or “henna tattoos” and “chai tea” - pretty pieces for your insipid world that are the mortar and brick keeping the integrity of my home. you pick at the walls with incessant, murderous boredom, eager for the ready-made and forgetting to love the maker.
you want to be coddled but i am not your mother[land]. dear armchair adventurer, get. out. now. you are building unsafe structures with materials you know nothing about. stop waiting for me to forget my stories - to degenerate from that imperial disease: your perennial, deliberate ignorance.
I am not dying.
and in any case, this inheritance never belonged to you.
I am a woman born of a woman whose man owned a factory.
I am a woman born of a woman whose man labored in a factory.
I am a woman whose man wore silk suits, who constantly watched his weight.
I am a woman whose man wore tattered clothing, whose heart was constantly strangled by hunger.
I am a woman who watched two babies grow into beautiful children.
I am a woman who watched two babies die because there was no milk.
I am a woman who watched twins grow into popular college students with summers abroad.
I am a woman who watched three children grow, but with bellies stretched from no food.
But then there was a man;
But then there was a man;
And he talked about the peasants getting richer by my family getting poorer.
And he told me of days that would be better and he made the days better.
We had to eat rice.
We had rice.
We had to eat beans!
We had beans.
My children were no longer given summer visas to Europe.
My children no longer cried themselves to sleep.
And I felt like a peasant.
And I felt like a woman.
A peasant with a dull, hard, unexciting life.
Like a woman with a life that sometimes allowed a song.
And I saw a man.
And I saw a man.
And together we began to plot with the hope of the return to freedom.
I saw his heart begin to beat with hope of freedom, at last.
Someday, the return to freedom.
There were plans overhead and guns firing close by.
There were planes overhead and guns firing in the distance.
I gathered my children and went home.
I gathered my children and ran.
And the guns moved farther and farther away.
But the guns moved closer and closer.
And then, they announced that freedom had been restored!
And then they came, young boys really.
They came into my home along with my man.
They came and found my man.
Those men whose money was almost gone.
They found all of the men whose lives were almost their own.
And we all had drinks to celebrate.
And they shot them all.
The most wonderful martinis.
They shot my man.
And then they asked us to dance.
And they came for me.
For me, the woman.
And my sisters.
For my sisters.
And then they took us.
Then they took us.
They took us to dinner at a small private club.
They stripped from us the dignity we had gained.
And they treated us to beef.
And then they raped us.
It was one course after another.
One after another they came after us.
We nearly burst we were so full.
Lunging, plunging—sisters bleeding, sisters dying.
It was magnificent to be free again!
It was hardly a relief to have survived.
The beans have almost disappeared now.
The beans have disappeared.
The rice—I’ve replaced it with chicken or steak.
The rice, I cannot find it.
And the parties continue night after night to make up for all the time wasted.
And my silent tears are joined once more by the midnight cries of my children.
”—"Two Women" - This poem was written by a working class Chilean woman in 1973, shortly after Chile’s socialist president, Salvador Allende, was overthrown. A U.S. missionary translated the work and brought it with her when she was forced to leave Chile.
“You don’t need another human being to make your life complete, but let’s be honest. Having your wounds kissed by someone who doesn’t see them as disasters in your soul but cracks to put their love into is the most calming thing in this world.”—Emery Allen (via epikhi)
“Worldwide, women between fifteen and forty-four are more likely to be injured or die from male violence than from traffic accidents, cancer, malaria, and the effects of war combined. This sustained brutality would be impossible without a culture that enables it: a value system in which women are currency, and sex is something that men get—or take—from them.”—Ariel Levy: Was justice served in Steubenville? (via eisbox)
“Somehow, it is still hard to talk to men about sexism without meeting a wall of defensiveness that shades into outright hostility, even violence. Anger is an entirely appropriate response to learning that you’re implicated in a system that oppresses women – but the solution isn’t to direct that anger back at women. The solution isn’t to shut down debate by accusing us of “reverse sexism”, as if that will somehow balance out the problem and stop you feeling so uncomfortable.
Sexism should be uncomfortable. It is painful and enraging to be on the receiving end of misogynist attacks and it is also painful to watch them happen and to know that you’re implicated, even though you never chose to be. You’re supposed to react when you’re told that a group you are a member of is actively screwing over other human beings, in the same way that you’re supposed to react when a doctor hammers your knee to test your nerves. If it doesn’t move, something is horribly wrong.
Saying that “all men are implicated in a culture of sexism” – all men, not just some men –may sound like an accusation. In reality, it’s a challenge. You, individual man, with your individual dreams and desires, did not ask to be born into a world where being a boy gave you social and sexual advantages over girls. You don’t want to live in a world where little girls get raped and then are told they provoked it in a court of law; where women’s work is poorly paid or unpaid; where we are called sluts and whores for demanding simple sexual equality. You did not choose any of this. What you do get to choose, right now, is what happens next.
You can choose, as a man, to help create a fairer world for women – and for men, too. You can choose to challenge misogyny and sexual violence wherever you see them. You can choose to take risks and spend energy supporting women, promoting women, treating the women in your life as true equals. You can choose to stand up and say no and, every day, more men and boys are making that choice. The question is – will you be one of them?”—
Eid Mubarak, world. Wishing all of you a welcome respite, a loving hug, and a bit of beauty to brighten your lives. In celebration and with joy for all the moments we’ve been blessed to witness, and with peace and remembrance of all the things we have survived - I pray that today finds both of us laughing and full of love, ameen.
UC executives say they have increased tuition and enrollment of wealthier out-of-state students in order to fund financial aid for low-income Californians. This is not totally true.
While some increased tuition has gone to financial aid, UC has nearly doubled the amount of money it keeps from tuition after funding aid. UC now keeps about $10,000 in tuition per student after funding financial aid, far more than the average for public research universities:
"Sure," a UC executive might answer, “but we needed the increased tuition revenue to make up for cuts in state funding." Not so fast. Berkeley and UCLA have increased the amount of tuition they keep faster than the rest of UC. Now Berkeley and UCLA keep nearly $12,000 per student, $2,000 or 20% more than the UC average. But Berkeley and UCLA suffered the same state funding cut per student that all the other UC’s suffered.
In other words, UCLA and Berkeley have been increasing the revenue they keep from tuition far more than the rest of UC. At the same time, Berkeley in particular has reduced enrollment of Californians far more than the rest of the UC system — Berkeley cut in-state enrollment of new freshmen by 22%. So all of California — including low-income communities and communities of color — have less access to UC Berkeley than they have for decades. Shouldn’t the additional money that Berkeley and UCLA take off the top from tuition go to maintaining access for these qualified Californians?
"Bankers in the Ivory Tower" shows how some of the money that UC Berkeley and UCLA take off the top from tuition is going to pay off Wall Street debt UC has used to finance other investments like amenities and hospital expansions.
In the next couple weeks, I’ll be digging into data on the full after financial aid cost of UC for low-income students. I hope to find how the real cost of college has changed in recent years at UC and across the country.
friendly reminder that as of today, you can purchase plan b emergency contraception at drugstores regardless of your age. you no longer need a prescription if you’re under 17. so if your birth control method dun goofed up or the heat of the moment got the best of you, get plan b asap. more effective the sooner you take it. up to 89% effective at preventing pregnancy before it happens if you take it within 3 days of sex. coupon for $10 off: (x)