Saturday, April 29, 2017

Day 14 - All Kids are Kids.

All kids are kids,
And then they are
kids of the white
and kids of the black.
kids of the settled,
kids of the migrants,
kids of the brahmins
and kids of the rest.

kids of the rich
and kids of the poor
kids of hetero-cisgender
and kids of the queer.
kids who were already ahead
when the race of the life began
and kids who have dropped out
coz some "don't see color".

You ask, where's privilege?
When only 6% of kids of the white
attend high poverty schools,
whereas the percentage for the
kids of the black is 40%.
But, then, as you say,
all kids are kids.

The unemployment rate
for African-americans
is nearly double
from those of the whites
and before you say,
those people should work hard,
well, did you know that the whites
with the same exact resume
are hired at a double rate?
In fact, a white man 
with a criminal history 
is more likely to be hired 
than an African American 
with no criminal past!
At every level of education, 
whites were twice as likely 
to have jobs as blacks.
But then, you will still say,
all kids are kids.

To you, my friend,
if this is still not privilege
Then check this,
with exact same experience 
of work and education
kids of the blacks, 
who are now men
earned 23% lesser 
than their white counterpart,
And still ,you will say,
all kids are kids?

So, listen brother!
Let's see the problem
of the migrating kids,
of them loosing friends...
and friends loosing them,
of them lost in cultures unknown
and torn in the worlds apart,
and address them as they are.

But let's not refute privilege,
because they are if anything,
victims of their own privilege,
of their parent's travel choices,
of being a predominately white,
or white-washed community
despite being from so many countries,
in, as you say, a "third world country".

All kids are kids, but
I wonder, how do you say
that there's no privilege
'coz if there was none,
your kid would not be an expat
and another migrant's, a refugee.

- Based on a presentation made by a fellow social studies teacher in a session on Third Culture Kids / Intercultural Competence and Michael Harriot's Yes, You Can Measure White Privilege

#Day14 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry #TCK #ThirdCultureKids #WhitePrivilege

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Day 13: The Side

"Maoist kill 25 CRPF jawans."

Wait, before I say further,
decide whose side 
you have already assumed.

And no, there's no judgment,
definitely not on your morality
or intellectual capability.
And even if there was one,
would it matter?

So, inform yourself
of your side.
Or are you one of those
who forever sit on the fence?
Or may be those who have a side,
but prefer to show as if on the fence?

And, I feel you already feel judged.
But I have said it, anyway.

Moving on...

You see, it's kinda funny
that a story is presented 
in these sides, that we
automatically assume and fight for
in our heads, and in such hurry
to move on to the next article 
or the next page...

"Mehbooba says,
Bullet and dialogue
don't go together."

And before we read
and interpret what she mean,
we would have 
already written a hate-post
or a moralistic outrage,
or even a passionate spoken word,
just like this one.

You see, when the sides 
are defined and given to us,
when we don't question
the boundaries of those sides,
or the form, the base,
the origin or the state,
or even just why these sides 
are on each other's,
we are already bought into a side
and the side whose story we want to read
is the story we actually only read.

Before we read 
what we want to read
let's break it down a little,
just a little, you see.
The Maoists came out 
of an affect of a situation,
of feudal lord's oppression,
And now we write about 
Naxalite-affected areas.
The side that affect today
was the side once affected by.

So do I assume 
when the powerless 
assumes power
the history repeats itself?
when it's only history repeating,
then how does it matter 
which side is more right,
yesterday's right is today wrong
and today's wrong is tomorrow's right!

But since you and I 
have taken our sides,
let's ask this, 
Whose death 
are we ready to mourn?
and whose loss 
are we ready to report?
Is it really about 
the feudal lords, 
or the Maoists,
or the Jawans?

Of course, Mehbooba.
The bullets and the dialogue 
don't go together.
Because bullets take sides.
Bullets abuse sides,
and sides misuse bullets.
But dialogues diffuse sides,
and it can only happen 
when we are ready to diffuse.

So Rephrase. Re read.
People kill 25 people.
Now, your side is my side. 
So let's talk, my friend.
B'coz our personal is political.
Until it turns into a bullet.

- Based on the first page news - Maoists kill 25 CRPF Jawans and Bullet and Dialogue don't go together, Hindustan Times, 25th Apr, 2017.

#Day13 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Day 12 - The Invisible Knapsack

I can, if I wish, arrange
to be in the company of people
of my race most of the time.
You may not.

I can, if I wish, avoid
spending time with people
whom I was trained to mistrust
and who have learned
to mistrust my kind or me.
You may not.

I can, if I should need to move,
be pretty sure of renting
or purchasing housing in
an area which I can afford
and in which I would want to live.
You may not.

I can be reasonably sure
that my neighbors in such a location
will be neutral or pleasant to me.
You may not.

I can, if I need, go shopping
alone most of the time,
fairly well assured
that I will not be followed
or harassed by store detectives.
You may not.

I can turn on the television
or open to the front page of the paper
and see people of my race
widely and positively represented.
You may not.

I can be sure that my children
will be given curricular materials
that testify to the existence
and the glory of their race.
You may not.

I can, if I want to, be pretty sure
of finding a publisher
for this piece
on white privilege.
You may not.

I can be fairly sure
of having my voice heard
in a group in which
I am the only member
of my race.
You may not.

I can be casual about, whether or not
to listen to another woman's voice
in a group in which she is
the only member of her race.
You may not.

I could arrange
to protect our young children
most of the time, from people
who might not like them.
You may not.

I did not have to educate
our children to be aware
of systemic racism
for their own daily
physical protection.
You do.

I can talk with my mouth full
and not have people
put this down to my color.
You may not.

I can, if I choose, swear,
or dress in secondhand clothes,
or not answer letters,
without having people
attribute these choices
to the bad morals, the poverty,
or the illiteracy of my race.
You may not.

I am never asked
to speak for all the people
of my racial group.
You are.

I can remain oblivious
to the language and customs
of persons of color
who constitute the world's majority
without feeling in my culture
any penalty for such oblivion.
You may not.

If a traffic cop pulls me over
or if the IRS audits my tax return,
I can be sure I haven't been singled out
because of my race.
You may not.

I can be pretty sure
that an argument
with a colleague of another race
is more likely to jeopardize
her chances for advancement
than to jeopardize mine.
You may not.

I can, if I choose, worry
And talk about racism
without being seen
as self-interested
or selfseeking.
You may not.

I can choose public accommodation
without fearing that people of my race
cannot get in or will be mistreated
in the places I have chosen.
You may not.

I can choose blemish cover
or bandages in "flesh" color
and have them more or
less match my skin.
You may not.

I am the white.
Let’s rotate and move
the wheel of oppression,
and I could be a male.
Or a heterosexual.
Or an able bodied.
A cisgender. Or a Brahmin.
And this story will still be true.
The knapsack is carried on. 
Invisible, and thankfully so.
So do you – oh, you! the lesser you!
Do you see how I am now? 

- Based on Peggy McIntosh' paper, WHITE PRIVILEGE AND MALE PRIVILEGE: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies (1988)

#Day12 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry #WhitePrivilege Peggy McIntosh #InvisibleKnapsack #SEED

Friday, April 21, 2017

Day 11 - My Son, Matthew

My son, Matthew,
did not look like a winner. 

He was rather 
and wore braces 
from the age of thirteen 
until the day he died. 

However, in his all too brief life 
he proved that he was a winner. 

On October 6, 1998 
my son tried to show the world 
that he could win again. 

On October 12, 1998 
my first born son 
and my hero, 

On October 12, 1998 
my first born son 
and my hero, 
fifty days before 
his twenty-second birthday.

I keep wondering 
the same thing that I did 
when I first saw him in the hospital. 
What would he have become? 
How could he have changed 
his piece of the world 
to make it better?

Matt officially died 
in a hospital 
in Fort Collins, Colorado. 

He actually died 
on the outskirts of Laramie, 
tied to a fence. 

I miss my son, 
but I am proud 
to be able to say 
that he is my son.

I would like nothing 
better than to see you 
die Mr. McKinney. 

this is the time 
to begin the process 
of healing,
to show mercy 
to someone 
who refused 
to show any mercy.

Mr. McKinney, 
I am going to grant you life, 
as hard as it is for me to do so, 
because of Matthew. 
Every time 
you celebrate 
a birthday, 
or the Fourth of July 
remember, Matt isn't.

Every time 
you wake up 
in your prison cell 
remember, you 
had the opportunity 
and the ability 
to stop your actions 
that night. 

You robbed me 
of something 
very precious,
Mr. McKinney, 
and I will never 
forgive you for that.

I give you life 
in the memory of one 
who no longer lives. 

May you have a long life 
and may you thank him 
every day for having lived it.

- Based on Dennis Shepard's statement to the court after his son, Matthew, died in hate crime against gay men in Laramie. The audio of this can be heard here.

#Day11 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry The Laramie ProjectLaramie, Wyoming Matthew Shepard #TheLaramieProject #HateCrime#LGBT #Gay
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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Day 10 - To Hell with Good Intentions

Next to money 
and guns, 
the third largest 
North American export 
to the world 
is you, the U.S. idealist.
You turns up 
in every theater of the world:
as missionaries, 
as teachers and volunteers,
the community organizer, 
the economic developer, 
and the vacationing do-gooders. 

You define your role as service. 

Actually, you frequently wind up 
alleviating the damage 
done by money and weapons, 
or "seducing" the "underdeveloped" 
to the benefits of the world 
of affluence and achievement. 


this is the moment 
to instead bring home 
to the people of the U.S. 
the knowledge 
that the way of life 
they have chosen 
simply is not 
alive enough 
to be shared.

Good intentions

have not much
to do with what 
we are discussing here

To hell with good intentions!
No, you don't help nobody
with your good intentions.
the road to hell
is paved with good intentions,
as goes the Irish saying. 

If you still want to go ahead,

close your eyes, otherwise 
the facts will make it hard 
for you to move.

Oh! you enlightened white american,

your sentimental concern
for the newly-discovered poverty
south of the border
combined with total blindness
to much worse poverty
at home justified
such benevolent excursions.

While Peace Corps spends

around $10,000 on you
to help you adopt 
to your new environment
and to guard you 
against culture shock,
how odd that nobody 
ever thought
about spending money
to educate poor Mexicans
in order to prevent them
from the culture shock
of meeting you?

If you have 

any sense of responsibility at all,
stay with your riots here at home.
Work for the coming elections:
you will know 
what you are doing,
why you are doing it,
and how to communicate 
with those to whom you speak.
And you will know when you fail.
If you insist on working with poor,
if this is your vocation,
then at least work
among the poor 
who can tell you to go to hell.
it is incredibly unfair for you 
to impose yourselves
on a village
where you are
so linguistically deaf and dumb
that you don't even understand 
what you are doing,
or what people think of you.
And it is, profoundly 
damaging to yourselves
when you define 
that you want to do
as "good",
a "sacrifice",
or  "help".

damages you do willy-nilly,
through your vacation-mission,
or two year exotic fellowships,
is too high a price
for the belated insight
that you shouldn't have been
there in the first place. 

So, I am here
to entreat you
to use your money,
your status and your education
to travel in Latin America.
Come to look, 
to climb our mountains,
to enjoy our flowers.
Come to study.
But do not come to help!

- Based on Ivan Illich's address, To Hell With Good Intention, 1968.

#Day10 #The100DayProject #100DaysOfProseToPoetry Ivan Illich #Volunteering #Charity