Tuesday, January 24, 2012


There are fleeting moments
when I can feel her
calling to me.

I can close my eyes
and smell jasmine,
and the vapors of hot chai
with cloves
and just a splash of milk.

I can hear the man
calling from his fruit cart
in the morning
as I open my eyes
to the boiling sun
pouring light through the silk curtains
warming my caramel skin.

I also remember walking on the dirty streets
coated with garbage like confetti,
dogs with fleas,
and the little girl,
who tugged at my expensive jeans
as I turned around in anger,
to see her holding a baby,
worried more that she had reached
inside my pockets
than about what she had to say;
ik pesa?

But instead, I chose to erase these memories
and cover them up with 
the beautiful things
like the smell of sandalwood paste
and the juicy mangos we’d pick from trees,
like drinking ice cold Coke from those glass bottles
and the way my anklets and bangles jingled as I stepped,
like the bright beautiful fabrics that lined each shop
and the bells chiming in the temple,

I chose to remember the smell of jasmine and hot chai,
and the man calling from his fruit cart as I woke up to the boiling sun.

I would only be there for a few fleeting moments,
so I would soak in all these lovely things
before I would find my way home,
smiling when asked about my vacation.

Home was never where I found her,
and when questioned by friends and strangers
I would always decline any connection;
I was an American.

But lately, I’ve been feeling her calling to me,
a mother to her child,
and I cannot deny her existence
because after all,
she is running through my veins;
she is in my brown skin, and my long braid,
and the words that roll off my tongue;
she has raised my parents, and their parents,
and she is the dust of my ancestors.

Though she is broken,
and those memories I used to erase
will overcome the beautiful things,
I pray we meet again soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Power Play.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s be real. It’s time we lay out all our cards on the table. This post may offend you, or make you angry, and if it does, I apologize because that wasn’t my intention. Also, I’m going to state right off the bat that I am not a psychology major, nor am I an expert on the subject. And I will point out that this is not a general statement; this doesn’t apply to everyone. But I’ve seen and experienced this too much to realize it is a problem. So here it goes…

Let’s press pause on this power play for a second, shall we?

I remember speaking to a guy who told me that my thinking was “too independent.” He said that guys want women that need them; need them to open doors, need to them fix leaky faucets, need them to carry their luggage, need them to teach them how to open an account at the bank. I found this nonsensical. Why should the man have to pay on every date? Why should the woman have to pretend to be oblivious so that her man can “take care of her?”

Let's break it down. 
Historically, sociologically, and psychologically, there has been a trend in our society – women marry up, and men marry down.
Women tend to favor guys that are older, taller, smarter, and earn more money.
Men, on the other hand, do the exact opposite; they prefer women that are younger, shorter, less intelligent, and earn less money.
Sound familiar?

So now here we have a problem: women and men realize this, and rather than break the cycle, they play this power differential to further naturalize this ridiculous social construct. It’s not a secret that this power play is disempowering women. But what appalls me is that women actually go out of their way to fill this “role” that men want them to. This needs to stop!

Women, stop playing dumb. I’ve seen this first-hand and it sickens me. It’s sad that we think that this will make us more attractive. Why should we hide our intelligence? Why should we pretend to be a lesser version of ourselves? Why shouldn’t we strive for higher education and great jobs? Because it will make men think less of us? Is this for real?

Men, control your egos. You know they’re there, and they’re huge; don’t deny it. Why do you have to be the breadwinner in the house? Why can’t you be a stay-at-home dad? Why is that so socially unacceptable? Why do you find successful women to be intimidating? Why does it bother you so much?

I know thinking about this may make you uncomfortable, but it’s time we accept that this happens, and this is a problem.

I know what you’re thinking – but I can’t help who I’m attracted to. But did you ever question why you are attracted to some people above others? Saying you are attracted to well-dressed people, or talented people, is not the same as saying you’re only attracted to someone who earns less than you or is younger than you. These factors are most definitely not related to that person’s personality.

The only way to fix this problem is to force ourselves to alter our way of thinking and question our motives – why we do what we do? Because often, our “natural behavior” is a testament to our (perhaps subconscious) submission to a flawed idea. And last I checked, ideas came from people.

So let’s make a commitment to start challenging social norms and culture in ways where we defy behavior that is flawed. And it starts here with these games we play.