𝘽𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝘾𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙢𝙗𝙞𝙖𝙣 – 𝘼𝙣𝙖𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙨𝙞𝙖 𝙋𝙚𝙧𝙚𝙯
If you look inside a small, private Catholic school classroom, you won’t find much diversity. This was the environment that I spent my early developmental years in, and the effects still linger today. From kindergarten to about middle school, I went to school and played with mostly other white kids. I didn’t see many other kids who looked like me, or who I could exchange cultural references with. I spent my early years shunning my culture and ethnicity, because I wanted to be white. I was embarrassed that my mother couldn’t speak English as well as my friends’ moms, and I was envious of friends who never experienced a language barrier between them and their family. Only after my first trip to Colombia did I begin to understand what being Colombian meant, and started to value my culture.
I began to ignore the fact that there were not that many other hispanic kids in my classroom, because at the end of the day, I still went home to eat arroz con frijoles for dinner and pick up arepas from la panaderia on Saturday mornings. I knew where I came from, and no one could tell me anything different.
Only until a few years later, when a girl in my sixth grade classroom said that I was white because I didn’t “act hispanic”, did I begin to question my behavior, and its association with my ethnicity. I went home and reflected on what “acting hispanic” meant.
Was it because I didn’t speak with an accent? Was it because my friends were mostly white? Did I dress too white? I knew I definitely looked the part, but I continued to question how my behavior could categorize me as “white”.
I later realized that trying to categorize me into a stereotype that fit someone else’s definition of what it meant to be hispanic was just ignorant, and even racist. In reality, when people associate one’s behavior with their ethnicity, we strip them from their identity, and expecting a specific behavior from a culture group will only leave you disappointed. It is crucial for a developing young girl to feel like her identity and behavior is separate from her ethnicity, that she does not have to fit a specific mold on what people should “act” like, and that simply being herself is what makes her who she is. I spent even my early middle school years thinking deeply on who I was and who I wanted to be. Not once did I think that I had to act a different way to seem more hispanic, though I had been told all my life that I acted “too white”. This set a small crisis in my head because I felt like I was not doing enough for my culture, or displaying enough “hispanicness”, whatever that meant. But the truth is, second generation Americans display their culture in a variety of ways, whether it is through food, music, dancing, or simply just speaking their parent’s native language. No two hispanic people are alike, but they probably shared the same values growing up, and have heard the same exact playlist of songs when going to family parties. You will find that two hispanic women will have more in common than not, and if we focused on these mutual values and traditions, we would not have to create a line between what is considered hispanic and what is not, and we can separate identity with ethnicity.
Even recently, someone I went to high school with claimed that I was trying to be white because I like to wear blue colored contacts once in a while. And while it might be nice to be white and reap the benefits of white privilege, I would never want to be anything other than who I am, which is Colombian. I let my behavior demonstrate the type of person I am, not my ethnicity. And maybe I hate reggaeton, pandebonos, and my Colombian accent is not as strong as others’, but I love to dance bachata, I look forward to a home cooked Colombian meal most when I visit my parents, and more importantly, I love the country where I am from and the values and culture that come with being Colombian.
eхcerpтѕ ғroм мy joυrnal – aмeena qoвrтay
November 3rd, 2018:
I was walking around campus with streaks of sunlight painted across my accepting face. The sun embraced me, and the universe called my name. Can you imagine that? The sound of your own name, echoing across the deep chasms of space, bouncing back across a Rutgers courtyard and into your ears?
As the sun extended its golden love to me, the varying yellows, browns, and oranges ornamented the trees, as if decorations adding to the ceremony of my acceptance into the universe.
I am a piece of all this. I am a red leaf dangling from the Scott Hall Tree, waiting for my fall back to the earth. I am the golden speckles casted by the sun and flitting across all things.
It’s fall and then it’s not fall until it’s fall again. De temps en temps, we reach into and out of love, on a delicate balance beam between desire and adoration.
I am everything and I am nothing. I am a whole galaxy, yet a part of an existing one. I am a collection of nerves, cells, tissues, bones, constructed into a single being. Every piece of my body has its seemingly eternal purpose, contributing to the construction of myself. A being full of emotions, various thoughts, a collection of memories and dreams…
And soon it will not be fall again.
November 5th, 2018
I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore. I feel completely and irrevocably lost and lost and lost again. I know that it’s normal but is it really?
I feel that I continually deconstruct myself over and over again until I’m left with pieces of Ameena, fragments of a self I used to know…
Sometime in December, 2018…
Sleek leaves on wet pavement catch the falling rain drops on their open faces. The leaves never ask why this occurs.
The leaf that was once admired on the red tree is now continually stepped on, and although it spent what seems like its former life on the branch of a young tree, it stays in one place on the ground.
The leaf that used to feel the wind’s caresses, and the simple yet comforting knowledge that it was hinged to a branch, lays flatly, unwaveringly, eternally, on the earth. It had a purpose – to serve its own beautiful part in the season of autumn.
Sleek leaves on wet pavement catch the falling rain drops on their open faces. The leaf that once felt the crisp air of fall, now only knows the coldness of a foreign pavement and the crunch caused by the sole of a lost girl’s boots.
January 2nd, 2019
People from my hometown ask me why I cut my hair. Perhaps it’s because in high school I was known for my beautiful brown locks, that would fall in tresses on my awaiting shoulders, or slicked into a ponytail so tight I would get headaches.
They don’t understand that I’ve changed. Or perhaps they do understand and they don’t see why I had to do it. They don’t know that the long hair falling on my shoulders felt like a dozen pounds, and that cutting it off freed me from that weight. They don’t know that I felt chained and confined to my hair. They don’t know that during the week that I cut it, I was so anxious and upset that I felt like I absolutely had to get rid of it, as if there was no other alternative to that.
The boys from my hometown don’t know that every time they tell me, “you look better with your long hair”, I swell with satisfaction. Internally, I know that this is precisely what I wanted. I am tired of being an object of speculation. I am tired of wanting to be beautiful. I am tired of existing to make some man’s eyes gleam with desire. I am tired of hearing that I have beautiful brown hair, and that I would be crazy to cut it.
If one more boy tells me I have beautiful eyes I think I might die.
𝟷𝟾𝟾 𝙾𝚡𝚏𝚘𝚛𝚍 𝙰𝚟𝚎 – a rap by 𝚁𝚎𝚎𝚖 𝙰𝚕𝚓𝚊𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚛𝚢
thought it was obvious
never wanted none of your bread
designer aint mean nothin in the end
even if you lost both legs, i’d
never have you trippen like dis
all i ever wanted was to be the one you wanted, boy
but im all about the vibe, so
shawty do the right thing, call ya girls up,
tell em dress up, henny all in ya cup,
party till the sun comes up, yea
forget i ever had you in my bed, yea
was so in love but now that shit is dead,
you fucked up my head, what did you expect
our love was my drug but i lost my connect
you’ll never lose me
but you steady choosin
don’t tell me come through,
yoou know i can’t say no to you
lost in the thought of you
boy i just can’t lie to you
but i don’t wanna lose what we have left
i should put my pride to sleep
since i know You know i tell the truth
and i would rather be next to you
but knowing me, i’ll hold back and lose
the one thing i thought i never would.
got a shawty shook, you a pretty penny & you got me hooked, yea
got the brains and the looks yea
baby you’re missin my love and you know iiit
but you don’t show iiit
oh u steady choosin
you love confusiin me
quit actin stupid
you know i can’t be beat
aint nobody want the smoke, CBD
and you bet i make the rules, play with me
baby i just wanna vibe, feel ya energy
got a blunt, and your trust, that’s all i need
i know i been acting up, but i got a lotta drugs in my blood,
and i jus keep on thinkin bout the last time we fucked, cause i
cause i know you’d give it up, i know i’m talkin tough,
i know i’m talkin crazy, jus stay for a minute
𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐏𝐨𝐞𝐦𝐬 – 𝐉𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐧 𝐌𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐫𝐬
a crimson cherry is a pregnant woman:
i gnash on her juices
and spit out her seedlings—
my tongue is stained with her bloody essence.
we have formed a sisters’ pact;
i kiss her before i devour her,
her veins becoming one with mine,
her heart ceasing to beat between my teeth.
her child is left to be discarded
on a white paper napkin set between my fork and dish— he will not have a life of his own,
and she is unable to contest my actions.
a satin poppy is an open wound:
her fluorescent star pulses through the lush field, stinging its green
with her complementary hue.
i lick her to stop the bleeding,
tightly fastening a bandage
around her weakened center—
though she refuses to be oppressed by me.
her nectar weeps through it;
her venom blasting in my direction
“i am i am i am,” she cries, “and i shall continue to be.”
i take a step back and acquiesce.
-jordan a. meyers
not your manic pixie dream girl
my dad used to host poker nights at our house every third thursday
and i would make sure to take a shower hours before any of his friends arrived,
in case my towel would fall down during the trek from the bathroom to my bedroom
and then—god forbid—my bare, vulnerable body would be gawked at by men three times my age
look at her over there
with her mary janes and frilly socks—
a record store employee, she must be—
with her striped sundress and flushed cheeks,
a poppy flower tattoo decorating her bicep,
greasy, dark-brown fringe hanging above her heavily-lined lids
you wish i were the summer to your tom,
the ramona flowers to your scott pilgrim,
the clementine to your joel
in 2010 i asked the woman who cut my hair to give me bangs
so that one day i would “accidentally” forget to trim them and i could hide behind them
begrudgingly, she agreed, knowing bangs were so passé—
you can’t even see my eyes in my fifth grade school photo
now i tell my hairdresser to cut my hair like joan jett mixed with zooey deschanel
(also known as your ultimate manic pixie dream girl — the greatest stock character in all of pop culture)
so ogle at me from afar and remember that my music taste is superior and my sense of style is unmatched and you’ll fall so deeply in love with the idea of me and i’ll break your desperate heart with my platform docs, forcing dirt imprints into your skin
“love thy neighbor,” they preached at school,
unless they’re skinnier, smarter, more beautiful, more talented (my mind would emphasize daily)
i remember natalie had a birthday party in fourth grade
and made sure to invite every girl in our class
(except for me and the other girl who had a speech impediment)
i had never before felt so strange
last week i read a book by eileen myles and told my therapist i was okay.
so don’t you dare force me to compare the size of my limbs to my cousin’s while at the woodcrest swim club
and don’t you dare label me as a poser-artsy-chick who-only-writes-poetry-for-the-aesthetic
and don’t you dare seal me tightly in a box with packing tape and styrofoam pellets,
because i have a story-line of my own,
and i’m not your fucking manic pixie dream girl.
-jordan a. meyers
for more of Jordan’s work please see: https://jamdocx.wordpress.com
ɪɴᴛʀᴜᴅᴇʀ – ᴀᴍɴᴀ ᴀʜᴍᴇᴅ
He opens the graceful door,
To a home that is not his.
He forces his way through;
An unpleasant guest for sure.
He shatters the antique vase,
In the center of this home.
And the gladiolus’ fall
Like a floating feather;
Without making a sound.
He opens the graceful door,
And shatters the antique vase.
But the flowers he can’t take,
So he leaves the broken home.
She gathers the fallen flowers,
And leaves this broken home.
She flies to the open sky.
No man can take her strength.
wнy ѕнe weαrѕ нer ĸey. – ĸιerιɴ roɢerѕ
reality pulling further and further down a slope comparison cycle i can’t quite figure out the perpetual motion
inner turmoil leading you directly between a quiet room with you and your mother standing spine to spine
draw and erase every line until the splitting pencil shavings become a vector of your own instability
back to 9 years old tripping over glass stained needled fenced in school yards
you dissociate again today to the time you were a different person
you’re always different people
you have been since you were young
and now time passes too slowly for you to see dreams past reality
and you won’t wake up
if you don’t eat up
in and out of dreams
waking nightmares and dreams of art
and dreams of tall shadows and coat racks in the corner of my bedroom
fear in an unlocked door
i hear you’re in therapy now
no healing no lacuna could patch an open wound
i wont forget
and i hope you dont
sometimes a sorry means next to nothing
(I believe her)
it won’t go away until my purses lips end what I started
(I believe her)
(I believe her)
a cliched narrative of unfortunate understanding
i don’t know what happens now
what happens when time passes
enough for us to be strangers
little lines of strings and needles tightened to pristine nearly intersecting lives parallel and streaming too close for comfort for a life spend chasing and a life spent running
they sound the same but she was powerless
we won’t see each other
and if we do my eyes will develop cataracts in only the cardboard cut out shape of you so the world can be more vibrant around your blurry silhouette
my stone heart will heal
the venus on my arm
protrudence in my palm
where i decide i am good enough
i can do that too
a friend once said
its good to know there’s a piece of me you’ll never see
but the fear remains
and days it seems like a car crash
in my spine and my mind
moments shot back like shock factor
now just a dizziness to my eyeline
so for now ill save the fear of an unlocked door
and keep the rusted chain around my neck
and while i wear it like marley’s chains
this wont be so burdensome
ill be tender
to myself and them
and hope for ignorance to become empathy
✰🇦🇷🇹 🇧🇾 🇳🇴🇺🇷🇺✰ – the Calligraphy Series
The ‘calligraphy’ series explores the internalized misogyny that I have experienced in my own family where I’d be told to sit in a certain way, lower my voice when I’m speaking, and not to stay out late. As an Arab female I am expected to follow a set of traditions and norms that are rooted in a culture that has not been updated in decades. These traditions are not only outdated but they are oppressive to every Arab woman and the goal of these illustrations is to shed light on how we need to neglect them to empower the Arab woman.