I am Latina

I am a Latina woman.

Soy una chica latina.

Bold and Proud.

But this wasn’t always the case.

American society doesn’t allow for women of color to have a voice.

Voices cry for a chance to be listened to. My voice cried within my head to heard.

Truly heard.

At points in life I have felt withdrawn from society.

I questioned the existence of other races and ethnicities for not being born white.

Why has white dominated all?

Why have white men and sometimes even women, shut the voices of people of color?

Latinas have had enough. Black women have had enough. I have had enough. We have all had enough.

It’s time. It’s way past time for me to be proud of my heritage. Proud of who I am. Proud of where I came from.

Brown is the color of my skin. Brown is the color of my skin. But that’s not all of me.

I am an intelligent, independent, force to be reckoned with!

I might be short but there is a fire taller than any skyscraper.

Don’t be fooled by my innocent face. Don’t be fooled by my childlike features. I am a powerful Latina.

Humanity needs us.

Humanity needs our firey souls.

I’ll continue to shine. I’ll continue to light the pathway just like many others before me.

This world is in need of strong, powerful Latinas. We can’t hide any longer. 

“the Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever!” (Sonia Sotomayor)

Es tiempo de tomar acción!

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A letter to my Rapist

Last fall I got to know you. That same year you went from someone I wanted to get to know, to someone I hated. I once wished you were dead my thoughts went as far as me being the one to kill you. I hated you. The past year has been hell. Those two nights, I felt like you took something away from me. I felt ashamed. I felt worthless. I felt numb. There were some days I didn’t want to get out of bed. Days that I wondered if my life was important. I gave you that much power over me. Why? I don’t know. Even when I felt strong for others, inside I was crying. You took over my thoughts. You made me feel dirty. You took over my body. I never said yes but I only said “no” a few times. The second time I tried to play it cool. I wanted to live. As I went to your bathroom I sat on the floor or maybe it was on the toilet. (I can’t remember because of the missing pieces of that second night. You took my memory away when you drugged me.) As I was there silently praying to God to save me. To not let harm come of me. To be protected. I prayed that an angel would come sweep me away from what was to come. As I sat there silently waiting, I lost hope. This hope would not return to me for months. At times it’s hard to find Hope. Your touch, voice, face still appears as if you were here next to me. So vivid those nights become at times, but then it hurts me as I can’t seem to have the full picture. I question myself “was I truly raped?” “Maybe I said yes but can’t remember”…?

The demons inside my head try to bring me down over and over again. But I’m done crying by myself. I’m done holding it in. I’m done letting you win.

I will fight this battle you have thrown at me and I will win no matter what. You can’t take my love away. I will love you one day. I will forgive you one day. I will forgive myself one day. I will work and pray every day for these things to come true. One day I will be free. Because Freedom is my right.

 

 

 

The Otherside: We are all a little ignorant

Below is an article I wrote for my school paper:

Picture grocery shopping in a store with tiny aisles minding your own business, looking for bread. I turn the corner into the right aisle. I run into a couple. I’m there before they are.  I think that they will move over to let me slide by. That doesn’t happen.

The lady looks at me in disgust and asks me rudely to move. I am so taken aback by this situation that I just stand there, dumbfounded by her reaction towards me. She leans over to her husband and whispers loudly “the Mexican can’t understand English.”

At this moment, I’m not going to lie but it felt like someone slapped me across the face. What had I done? I didn’t realize moving from a city to a rural community was going to be a drastic change in my life. It has been a year since I last visited the community, and a year since I visited my dad.

I didn’t know the lady in the grocery stores story. Neither did I know what she’s been through, but she also knew nothing about me. The sad thing is, my story is not unique. To her, I was the unknown, and in this community the unknown was scary. She probably saw me and didn’t know what to think. Perhaps she never had the opportunity to interact with the “other.”

Even with the opportunity to interact with someone outside the community, she insulted me, only to return to what she knew. She had a chance to make the unknown known. But, she didn’t try. I left the community. She didn’t. Perhaps she is the victim and not me.

This community in Kentucky is like a bubble. It’s the same people who have always lived there. My dad is still friends with the people that he knew at elementary school. It’s custom in many rural communities to know everyone.

Principia shares many similarities to rural Kentucky. Students have the same friends from camp, middle school and even acorn group. So how does this close kinship of childhood friends impact our interaction with others?

Entering a close knit community is hard. It is even harder if you are a minority. In an interview with an international student who wished to stay anonymous says, “I never knew I was black until I came to the United States.”

“It’s not that I didn’t know I was black. My skin color is obvious, but I just didn’t realize my color had such a negative stigma. I was no longer just me, but me and my color. My color was not just a color, but all these negative stereotypes behind it,” she explained.

Since being in the states and having an acute awareness of her skin tone, she has become hyper aware of her accent. “How does it sound? Am I mispronouncing something, which is why people are giving me blank stares.”

“No student wants to repeat themselves multiple times,” in explanation why she chose to be more quiet in class and social interactions.

Adjusting to a new culture and country is not easy. It’s hard, scary, and lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. I can only imagine what many of the international students feel when first arriving in the United States.

And domestic students wonder why there is a divide within the student body at Principia.

“I think international students of color at Principia should first understand that U.S. students are generally institutionally ignorant about any other culture outside of the U.S.” said Professor Billy Miller.

“Indeed, most are ignorant about their own culture. Consequently, for the most part, too many are incapable of empathizing with the cultures of others. So, international students should not take the insulting and embarrassing cultural stereotyping personal when some domestic students engage in the horrible episodes of racialized behaviors.

International students should engage with domestic students notwithstanding their ignorance about the GLOBAL “other.” They should go forward with the greatest love and empathy for domestic students and take the highroad to loving them notwithstanding themselves” said Miller.

I must confess my own ignorance at this point. I roomed with an international student my first semester freshman year. We didn’t have the option to choose roommates. I have to admit I didn’t know how to meet her halfway, so we didn’t talk for most of the semester. But we both spent a lot of time in the room. She was doing homework and I was watching Tedtalks.

Then one day we spoke. I can’t tell you the specific day or what we spoke about, but we discovered how much we had in common. It’s odd looking back and realizing how afraid I was to be vulnerable and afraid to show my ignorance.

Sure I had to Wikipedia some information and google map her home. Only to realize it wasn’t what I expected. It was normal. Today, this woman is now one of my best friends.

This isn’t about looking down at domestic students, like myself, but for all of us to take moment to think about what the real issue is. We have an opportunity at Principia to enrich our lives by getting to know the “other.”

The “other” is that international student or person who you don’t normally interact with. Someone that might not only look different, but have a different political ideology.

So meeting the other doesn’t mean losing your identity or beliefs. It means loving your neighbor. To learn from one another we must all be willing to take down the barriers. Just like the incident that occurred for me in Kentucky. I realized I was once that woman.

We are all a little ignorant at some point in our lives. But we have the opportunity to change that. At Principia we have over 80 international students from six different continents; this is a chance to express Love.

Around the World in 10 Moments

Wow this is really good

The WordPress.com Blog

Photographing the colors of the Holi festival in India

The Kolkata-based blogger at Know-All’s Box recently captured the faces of this year’s Holi festival:

Image by Know-All's Box Image by Know-All’s Box

Capturing a student in a classroom in Sierra Leone

Laura Cook, a photographer currently based in Sierra Leone, focuses on sport as education. Her job requires many visits to schools in the area; here’s a student portrait at a football academy in Tombo:

Image by Laura Cook Photography Image by Laura Cook Photography

Education is improving in Salone all the time but many schools still have overcrowded classrooms and a lack of qualified staff. It is also clear that for most, education is seen as the solution to many of the problems faced in this part of West Africa.

— Laura Cook

Covering the ongoing violence in Venezuela

Francisco Toro at Caracas Chronicles comments on the ongoing violence in Venezuela — and the international media’s (lack…

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The Journey: a poem الرحيل

I saw this poem and knew I needed to share it. It is so beautiful

alisariram

This poem, simple as it is, means a lot to me. It is a journey a kind of spiritual odyssey to the unknown. It features a sea, a moon, lightning, thunder, a boat and a traveller. I rank it among my Sufi poems. Yearning permeates it. Longing for the unknown fires it.  It wavers between darkness and light and trembles at the edge of suffering, seeking the journey to make suffering meaningful.

It is both in Arabic and English.

The Journey The Journey: multimedia by Alisar Iram

The night has grown smaller

Waiting

Passionate longing

Hanging

Over the sea.

A voice cried

Peace ….peace

It is time to set forth

It is time to seek the source

Of this long sweeping darkness

So that we might find.

 

Perhaps, through the towering veils

Of this long night

We might discern a fair night

Gleaming

Perhaps in the maze of brooding images

We might…

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Moving forward

Today is my presentation for my Senior Project. Writing this blog has made me think more about others. I never realized how much stereotyping, judging others, and making assumptions of others happen around me and around the world.

 

Even though my presentation is today I have three more stories/interviews I’d like to write about. I think I’ve decided to continue writing on my blog even after the other three stories I write.. I hope everyone who has read my blog got something out of it because I know I did.

“As a kid, grow…

“As a kid, growin’ up, I can’t front, it was hard. I was just coming in from Africa. I was mad black. Dark skin wasn’t in style. My accent was crazy. I was getting teased and fighting, but you know, kids are gonna be kids anyway. But they didn’t give me the impression that I didn’t get along with them. I ended up making crazy friends once they got to know me. I just think it’s a lack of understanding. People stereotype you before they get to know you as a person.”

– Akon