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Brown Girl Lifted

because life @ the intersection is personal & political

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poetry

Anupama Bhattacharya is a student and a researcher. Her research analyzes bias in evaluation of leaders in STEM fields in order to fight against health disparities in Medicine due to lack of diverse leadership. She studies Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science with hopes ofworking towards a reality where healthcare is more broadly accessible and applicable for all. Anupama is an artist and creator. She is a talented indian classical dancer, painter, sculptor, jewelry maker and sewist. Anupama is working to analyze herself and her reality based in ancient Indian literature to decolonialize her perspective.

Molly Tobin is a student of English and Media Studies at Scripps College in Claremont, CA. While being on Youtube for upward of three years now with a book review blog, they have started dabbling in Video Art as a way to tell stories. They are interested in exploring documentary media and short films in their future endeavors. However, their ultimate goal is to go into the book publishing industry and work towards diversifying the works that are published, especially in young adult and children’s literature.
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Just a Bad Joke

Dave_Chappelle_(cropped)Dave Chappelle tells a rape joke and my boyfriend stifles a laugh
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I feel my face turn red
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and my memory finds the midnight my friend called me sobbing & suicidal & unsafe
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and my boyfriend laughs
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I remember finding out that my friend raped eight women
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I wonder how many of my friends have raped my friends
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and it gets harder to breathe
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I remember being told I couldn’t sleep over at my friend’s house because her dad tried to rape my mom
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and the men in the theatre slap their knees while cackling
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I am nine years old dreading pool days because my friend’s dad stares at me and winks
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and the entire theatre roars in laughter
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I don’t dare wear a swimsuit for over a decade
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and my little brother learns to laugh when my sister is abused
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and I know I can never have a daughter
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and the men in the theatre look monstrously happy
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and my boyfriend laughs
Dave Chappelle tells another rape joke and everyone laughs
Dave Chappelle tells a rape joke and I wonder if I am ever ever ever safe

-Bet-Zua Jimenez

i bubble up into spurts of happy

when i’m surrounded by women who make me feel powerful

not only for my beauty

for my intelligence

for my worth

for my entire being

and i can say, “i am enough” with full confidence

what a gift they’ve given me

the gift of seeing myself and all that i am

-Varshaya Visvanathan

I think God herself lives within

a woman’s body.

The inherent way beauty resides in

her bones,

holding the potential to recreate.

 

Guided by moonlight, birth and death meet

at the crossroads.

Two ships,

sailing,

within a sea of red.

 

I think about my mother.

And her mother.

About the women before me.

I think about the women after me.

 

(Is there a difference?)

 

I think about coincidences.

The way water travels—

Knowingly.

 

Rain embracing rivers, embracing shorelines,

with a sense of subtle familiarity.

As if, she’s crossed this path before.

 

I think about contradictions.

The way the tide grows, preparing to fall.

The gravity with which we collapse,

only to rise up again, as stardust.

 

The way creation is destruction,

is destruction,

is destruction,

is creation.

 

But this is not a poem about contradictions,

this is a poem about resurrection.

 

 

 

-Nivedita Sharma-

the narrow ledge between sorrow and a blank stare,

just remember:

 

They are offended by your capacity to feel.

They are threatened by the tears cascading down your cheeks.

Tears with the potential to turn into a tsunami,

to break down bridges, to wipe the shoreline clean,

and expose the sharp rocks hidden in the sand.

 

“You are too much,” they say.

Too much for speaking, and too much for crying, and too much for shouting.

You should’ve learned to sit down,

to cross your legs,

to contain your sadness into small boxes.

Didn’t your mother ever teach you to be polite?

To color inside the lines?

Your anger is a fire that must be extinguished.

If it grows too large it just might expose the truth;

it might just burn down this city of lies.

 

 

Don’t let them take your pain and turn it into something cruel.

Don’t let them take your anger and fray the edges, tear the seams,

Reshape it into something else.

They try and paint you as dangerous, as excessive.

Society has taught you to be small, how dare you try and become larger,

try and outgrow the narrow space you have been assigned?

 

They are afraid because they want control.

They want to own you,

every part of you

in its entirety.

 

But they cannot have you.

 

Because you own this anger, this pain.

You own this rage; this sorrow belongs only to you.

The way your blood boils, the way your heart sinks

and your breath thickens and your knees begin to shake.

This is your weapon; hold on to it like a handful of seeds.

No matter how much they ask or how hard they demand, do not give it to them.

For, with these seeds, you are able to grow a garden.

You are able to cultivate strength.

You are able to start a revolution.

 

After all, this vulnerability–this raw and uncensored ability to feel,

is the closest a human being can come to God.


Nivedita Sharma is a daydreamer, avid tea drinker, aspiring writer, frequent people-watcher, and lover of words. She recently graduated from UW Madison with majors in biology and psychology and certificates in gender and women’s studies and global health. Specifically, she is interested in promoting social equity through working on reducing health disparities and focusing on minority and women’s health. Additionally, she strongly believes in the power of sharing and embracing diverse experiences through writing and performance as a method of initiating social change and creating a more inclusive, more beautiful world.

 

ah, yes – sky blue eyes, a regal nose
short, neat blond hair
he’s a generic boy from the Midwest
attractive in the conventional white boy aesthetic
looks like he could be Captain America
an American GI looking for his war bride
but there’s no war
and my English is probably more smooth than
whatever will tumble from his mouth
after he makes his way across the room
i wonder who he sees –
Suzie Wong, Miss Saigon, Liat
he’s trying for that scene from South Pacific
but this isn’t a movie
and i will not fall into his arms by the end of the night
mysterious, intoxicating, alluring, exotic.
that’s all he wants from me
i am the Orient and he’s seeking my sacred mountains,
wants to conquer my strange, foreign lands
i am the precious lotus, sakura blossom, magnolia flower
that he wants to take home and nurture
but he’ll learn soon enough how to fear me.
when given the choice between flower of the Orient and dragon lady,
always choose dragon lady
dragons are power, strength, feared
fire-breathing
so when he goes in for a smoldering kiss
and cannot handle the heat
you will burn bright, consuming him
whenever given the chance,
incinerate generic white boys
seeking a piece of the East
let there be no more
generic white boys
searching for their Oriental flowers
because there are none
here be dragons.

Lauren Jia Gonitzke in love with stories in all their forms and mediums. As a critical and avid consumer of media, Jia is passionate about people who take and interpret, subvert, invert, and transform the original material. She’s a senior majoring in English Creative Writing with certificates in Chinese and Asian American Studies. Jia is a college student, storyteller, global thinker, and Chinese adoptee.

thoughts

Shakti

These are the lessons they teach you:

mispronounce your name

for the sake of their tongues,

lower your voice, soften your tone

for the sake of their ears,

straighten your hair, lighten your skin, for the sake of their eyes,

dilute yourself, shrink yourself

for the sake of their egos.

But you do not belong to them.

Brown girl, you

belong to Monsoon rains,

and the five rivers of Punjab.

To the countless women who came before you;

women who have worn centuries of resistance and resilience

on their spines.

Women who have walked on fire, raised entire generations, started revolutions and crossed borders.

Women carrying stories so powerful that they can swallow you whole.

Women that live within you, unapologetic and unwavering

in their strength.

So next time anyone makes you feel as if you do not belong,

as if you are anything less

than enough, remember–

you are so much more than enough.

You are whole.

You are more than whole.

It’s nothing short of a miracle,

the way that you are

so much greater,

than the sum of

your parts.

-Nivedita Sharma

Continue reading “Shakti”

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