Golden Hues

5/2/16
I hold onto the edges of the rainbow
Especially
the color in between the blue and green
because that’s the color of your eyes.

I grasp the rain drops within my fists
And put them inside my pockets
With my spare change and crumpled up
Gum wrappers

I take a mental picture of the
Sky that’s
On fire
And how it lights up the
Golden hues
In your dark hair

I pinch together the thoughts
Of endless
Fascination

And I find it
Hard
To let go of
the rapid beating
of my heart
And the
Thoughts that
Won’t shut off
Even when I am
imagining
the light-switch on my
yellowing
white walls.

The golden hue of
Your hair
And the colors
Of the sky
And my goddamn
Wet gum wrappers
Fit the mood
Of irrelevancy,
Of love,
Of infatuation…

The swift movement
Of your long,
Dark
Hair.

Does His Love Make Your Head Spin?

6/7/16

High tide in my eyes.

This hurts too much
And I love you so.

High tide in my eyes.

I spent all of your birthday
Wondering what happened
And why.

Don’t let me go.

High tide in my eyes.

Running
And sprinting
And hunched shoulders
And choking
And gagging
And shallow breaths with splintered ribs.

High tide in my eyes.

And you wouldn’t realize a thing.
While my head is spinning, spinning, spinning.

Eyes heavy with the ocean at high tide.

Breathing Exercises

5/27/16

Hitched breathing.

Has filling my lungs with air always been this hard?
Asthma exacerbated with the odor of stale cigarettes hanging heavy in the heat.

I feel like I’m going to puke up my lunch.
Whether it’s because of what you said, or the smell, I’m not sure.
But I’m most definitely going to puke up my lunch.

I say this with a chuckle because it’s supposed to be a joke, but I actually mean it.

There’s always been this romance about chain smoking outside of a coffee shop or some shit, but I just can’t stop thinking about the carcinogens and yellow teeth and foul breath when you kiss me.

In through the nose, out through the mouth is what my therapist told me.
But again, the dingy smell that clings to your clothes when you hold me makes that harder than it should be.

My lungs are squeezed hard by fists clenched too tight.
I’m kicking myself in the shin as I remember “In for five, hold for five, out for five.”

And I’m actually hoping you suffocate on your last puff of nicotine, while I choke from laughing too violently at the morbid irony of it all.
And then we both drop dead on the scorching pavement.

Happily ever after.
Like a fairytale gone sour.

I hope you burn in hell like the butt of your goddamn cancer stick on my forearm.

America: Home of The Cowardly? Why overcoming racism means overcoming our fear.

5/19/16

The American flag waves in the blustering wind, almost as if it’s a greeting; a “Hello. I’m here to symbolize the freedom of your nation.” Much like the flag, equality is theoretically the fabric of our nation. So if America is truly the “Home of the Brave”, then why is so much of our stance on racism rooted in fear? As a democracy, we’re able to choose our own rights. So that would mean the “Land of The Free” is also a land of equality, right? Maybe not.

We’ve all seen it—White cop murders black man. Riots in Baltimore. Black man allegedly rapes white woman. Does crime equal mental illness? Black and white people are scared of each other—it’s that simple. Equality can be written into the constitution, but we are not truly equal until we don’t have to fight for what we say we stand for. Until harmony is accepted as commonplace, something has to give—and that something is the belief that humans should be objectified for the color of their skin. Black and white are opposite colors, but they don’t have to be treated as opposite races.

According to Daniel C. Poole, a 20-something black street performer I interviewed in New Orleans, “Defense is never wrong… It’s cause and effect.” I asked him what he meant by that and he said in a placid voice, “It’s long overdue.” We had a relatively long discussion on racism and he seemed to be pretty level-headed—especially while talking to a fifteen-year-old white girl from the Pennsylvania suburbs. When asked about racism in general, he replied, “Racism is a problem of the past. I can see the truth in it— there’s power in racism and people will do anything to keep their power.” When I asked him to elaborate, he spoke about fear: “Fear invites everything negative into your life—makes you accept defeat.” My personal thought: What Daniel told me that night on Bourbon Street while I sat on the wet cobblestone ground will ring in my ears every time someone tells me that racism is only a one-sided story. Because it’s not. Everyone is intermittently involved in some way, shape, or form. Even if it’s not necessarily “our” fault, reversing the problem still requires the help of the entire United States population.

According to The Guardian’s The Counted: people killed by police in the U.S., in 2015/2016 black people are almost 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, with young, black men being killed at the highest rate. Black Americans are also twice as likely to be unarmed when killed by police. But do these statistics account for things like poverty, pressure, and—most of all—fear? While talking about police brutality, Daniel said “There are only two types of people: good and bad.” A cop’s job is no joke. These officers find themselves in life-or-death situations on a daily basis. Because of this, policemen roaming the “bad areas of town” are likely to have elevated cortisol levels. But when racial profiling is involved, stress levels don’t justify the irrational killings. The bottom line: racism is often dependent on fear.

Though slavery is no longer, racism is still alive and well. We live in a society where the “N-word” is often used in colloquial conversation, but that doesn’t make it okay. Cultural appropriation announces itself at the Grammys by big-time artists, and often on social media by people who are famous for being conventionally beautiful, as if being pretty or famous excuses it. The long-lasting effects of racism are still relevant, even if they’re more covert. It’s disturbing to think about the similarities between police brutality and slavery. People no longer get beaten by their owners, but their lives are threatened each day by police; the same people who should be helping save their lives. The idea behind the “Black Lives Matter” movement is to empower black people—especially those who have witnessed or been a victim of police brutality or white privilege or supremacy. There are those who support the movement and those who oppose it (protesting and the race’s empowering “#blackout” days). However, racism doesn’t just involve movements like Black Lives Matter.

During another New Orleans interview with a young black tarot reader, Antoinette Emory told me her thoughts on police brutality: “You wore that badge to protect and to serve, not to overstep your boundaries— not to become a bully.” While asking her what she thought about the murders being committed by police, she said, “It’s a crying shame. It’s not right to use excessive force. That’s not their job.” And when asked to elaborate on the brutality occurring mostly within black communities, “They have the authority to shoot you. We see the cops, we’re gonna run.” Antoinette continued speaking on the topic and while I began to write, “What did he do? You still have no answer? That’s why you lost your job”, I caught something important: the word “he”.

Let’s look at those mortality figures a little closer. Examining age and gender, we learn that young, black men are killed disproportionately. According to The Guardian’s “The Counted”, 304 American black people were killed by police in 2015, compared to 582 whites. However, blacks make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, while whites make up 64 percent. Translation: Blacks are killed at the highest rate of any demographic, at 7.22 per million. By contrast, whites are at 2.94. So while whites outnumber blacks by nearly five times, blacks are killed by police more than twice as often, with young, black males killed at a rate nearly five times higher than whites of the same age. A lot of people may say this is purely hate-crime. But, if racism is based on fear, we need to understand crime isn’t always racially motivated.

According to Politifact.com, 93 percent of murders of black people are committed by other black people—black males being the main perpetrator and victim. Similarly, 85 percent of white murders are also committed by their own race. In fact, murder committed by whites is almost twice the amount of murder committed by blacks, at 10,038 vs. 5030. However, despite this fact, white people account for roughly 6.2 times more of the population than blacks; meaning that black people are almost 3 times as likely to commit murder. But could fear be the ultimate weapon?

People are killed daily, whether black or white, as stated above—by police, by others of their own race, by others of a different race, and by themselves. If weapons equal fear, logic dictates that fear equals weapon. Words make a definite impact on the idea of racism. Some of those words are even used as scare tactics. “All cops are bad.” “All white people kill.” “All black people are scary.” All are overgeneralizations, and all are potentially fatal. We could be working together to overcome racism, but instead we choose to keep each other against each other. If we reduce the fear behind the mess we’ve created, we reduce the weaponry.

Poverty and the wage gap could very well be the cause of most crime. From “Race and Crime in the United States” (Handbook of Crime Correlates; Lee Ellis, Kevin M. Beaver, John Wright; 2009; Academic Press): “The data imply a stronger tie between poverty and crime than crime and any racial group…Most studies find that the more ethnically/racially heterogeneous an area is, the higher its crime rates tend to be…The direct correlation between crime and class, when factoring for race alone, is relatively weak.” In a 1996 study of data from Columbus, Ohio, researchers Lauren J. Krivo and Ruth D. Peterson found that “differences in disadvantage in city neighborhoods explained the vast majority of the difference in crime rates between blacks and whites.” (Extremely Disadvantaged Neighborhoods and Urban Crime, 1996). That being said, this may be the answer to why the incarceration rate of black males is over six times higher than white males. When Daniel from New Orleans said “There are only two types of people: good and bad,” he may be absolutely right. Maybe it’s nature versus nurture,—being raised poorly in an environment of drugs and crime, or just being a “bad” person. Socioeconomic studies can’t tell for sure.

Now, let’s talk about policing. Community police systems are different everywhere, depending on the town. So, if we don’t use our towns’ money efficiently, we don’t have nearly enough resources to prevent crime. Education is the key to success, and the lock is ignorance—it may not be bliss after all. In theory, police brutality is due to racism. But is racism always blatant? Gaining more knowledge on social and economic behaviors may save some towns a lot of further trouble. Overcoming crime may mean reducing the wage gap by raising minimum wage. Or even keeping innocent people out of jail to be able to pay for more resources. We need to start helping future generations by providing them more education and financial support—not ignoring the problems they have at home or in school. Better community policing may be the start to a safer future.

The question behind it all: Is racism something we can or can’t overcome? People are always going to be people and you can’t change them overnight. Changing a system of beliefs we’ve had for centuries doesn’t just happen. Racism doesn’t disappear like magic— White privilege and unjust treatment exists. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t use our fear more efficiently. The answer: turn the anger into passion.

To overcome racism, we’ll have to start acting as one. One population. One desire. One outcome. The color of our skin is not our only difference. We have many similarities too. We’re all people—whether we’re black, white, brown, female, or male. We have strengths and weaknesses. But in the end of it all, we must fight this battle together. With all of our help, commitment, and passion, maybe racism can finally become a thing of the past. One by one, we can change the world. I know it’s something we’ve all heard before, but believing we can… that’s the missing puzzle piece. Inspiration is imperative— inspire others in any way you possibly can. “Do as I say, not as I do” holds no relevance here. Don’t listen to the mind-numbingly racist, anecdotal conversations of our ancestors. Listen to your heart. What does the future hold if you choose to go out and do?

Amethyst and Flowers on the Table

An image: A morose girl sits and waits for her lover.

An image: The lover walks over to the girl, with a bent posture; looking at the floor.

An image: the girl glances with wide eyes, almost toward the ceiling; longingly.

An image: the girl’s thoughts wander to the lilacs they always had on their kitchen table in their first apartment together; she thinks about the way they dried out and died but still looked beautiful, even as the water dried out of the vase.

An image: His thoughts wander to the girl and why she was always killing those damn flowers, even though the fragrance always choked him.

An image: Purple. Her favorite color and the color of all her favorite flowers.

An image: Her lips, frozen in the winter. Purple.

An image: Amethyst that she always kept on the table, broken from a geode. Purple.

An image: the red wine that stained her favorite white shirt from laughing so hard she spewed it all over the table. Purple. She misses laughing so hard her shoulders shake and she doubles over, falling to the floor in drunken joy.

Images, images, images. Purple.

Lilacs, amethyst geodes, those blue and red popsicles kids suck on in the Summer. Purple.

Her favorite color. His favorite sweatshirt. Purple.

The colors of her favorite Spring sunset. Purple.

Lilacs, lavender, lust. Purple.

Amethyst and flowers. Purple.

Her last love letter signed with a heart.

Purple.

Death With Dignity– lyrics by Sufjan Stevens

Oh god it’s wonderful,

Oh god it’s wonderful
To get out of bed
And feel okay
Just one day at a time

Oh god it’s wonderful
To love you like this
And to know you love me more

Oh god it’s wonderful
To feel light
And to feel powerful
And to know life’s alright

Oh god it’s wonderful
To love and to laugh
And to wonder about
Much more than what my life is

Oh god it’s wonderful
To run outside smiling
And for my fingers to be frozen
And for the love of my life to be out there
Beside me

Oh god it’s wonderful
To be grinning so big
And to feel all of my feelings at once
And to be so overwhelmed with love
That I give it out
To everyone.

The Light Starts To Dim

4/7/16

Fingers intertwined,
smiling eyes,
and goofy grins.

My gaze wanders over you
while we lie down on our sides—
your lips,
blushing cheeks,
and your precious emerald eyes
with drooping lids—
they sparkle in the golden afternoon light
I could stare at you for hours.
Time moves more slowly
when I’m with you.

I’m loving you
and I could never stop
as long as we stay
right here.

Suddenly the clock stops ticking.
The room swirls with my head.
The gold stops turning into gray.
My emotions are irrevocable
and
now I’m kissing you.

Again,
again,
again,
again,
again.

The moment
clings onto
the dust-covered walls.

I feel you smile
and my heart
beats out of my chest.

I notice the shadows
becoming
less prominent
on the walls
and
the afternoon light
starts to dim.

I hear you grin
in the now dark room.
I rest my head on your chest.
I can hear your heartbeat—
slow and soothing
and the warmth of your body.

The moonlight
illuminates our faces
with a silver incandescence.

Something switches
from passion to comfort
when you stroke the hair out of my face.

And I fall asleep
seeing silver and gold
swirl behind my eyelids.


This post was revised by my creative writing class at the University of The Arts.

Intro to Feminism: for those who don’ t understand

I need feminism. Why? Because I’m a sixteen-year-old girl. Because I’m told to “act more lady-like” when I’m not crossing my legs. Because I’ve been asked by guys whether I’m on my period, just because I’ve spoken up for myself against their evermore powerful masculinity. I need feminism because when I was in third grade, I was the only girl who couldn’t wear clothes from Aeropostale because all the sizes were too small. I need feminism because I never really fit the standards of pretty and skinny. Or blond with blue eyes and no arm hair. Speaking of which, I shaved my arms when I was nine until my mom caught me and told me I was “only supposed to shave my underarms and legs”. That confused me because— Why would it be okay to have hair in one place on my body but not in another? I need feminism because in order to look feminine, I’m told by society that I need to cover my acne with makeup. I can’t go out of the house without mascara because of the unrealistic standards created by men. I need feminism because my school dress code tells me that I need to wear a bra, as if my body is their choice. And, if god forbid anyone sees a bra strap (which is extremely contradicting), you’re sent home to find a different shirt. I need feminism because society has branded the word “slut” into my brain. It rings in my head when I see a girl whose cleavage is showing, or is wearing shorts that are a little too short. I need feminism because misogyny has turned women against each other. I need feminism because even just saying you’re a feminist implies you’re a man-hating lesbian. I need feminism because women have been taught that the only two body types are skinny and curvy. Fat is used as an insult. I need it because women who are sex-workers are ridiculed and raped and told that they are worth less than other women. I need it because some people believe cat-calling is a compliment. I need feminism because there’s still a war between pro-life and pro-choice. I need feminism because rape statistics say that one in six women are sexually assaulted (including rape) and girls ages 16-19 are four times more likely to be victims than the general population. We need feminism because it is not okay to tell another person why they can’t act like who they are.

man harassing woman for “being a slut”

“The Period Poem” by Dominique Christina