Poetry On Odyssey: October 31st

Poetry On Odyssey: October 31st

A poem about Halloween.
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Trust me, I'm not one to share poetry. I'm not really one to write poetry if I'm going to be honest. But this poem is kind of special and important to me because it's about being an Indian American woman in Michigan and what that means, especially when you're a kid.

I've always known that I'm Indian, but I didn't ever really think that that was something to make me different. I didn't really understand what it meant to be a race other than white in this country. Slowly, though, it became more and obvious to me that I am different. At first, this difference is crippling, because you feel inadequate, you feel less than. Until you begin to realize that it's a strength, not a weakness.

So, with much courage, here's a poem that I would like to share with you.

October 31st

The best day of the year

When you’re 10 years old

Graduation from Bumble Bee

Lady Bug, Minnie Mouse

Costumes

And a trip to big kid world

With make up

Complexity to design-

For looks more than cold-weather coverage


With fancy shoes

With my head held high,

I was Jodha

The Mughal Empress of India,

The beauty of the land, sharp, bright,

A swordswoman, forced into marriage

But never a coward.


I was beautiful, strong. I looked like a queen

Golden long, flowing skirt

Drapes over my shoulder

Heavy, plastic, jewelry

A face caked in brown foundation

Thanks mom, for the 6 AM

Dressing room session before the school parade


I walked into school,

Through big double doors

Heads turning, I imagined

Camera flashing.

There were spidermans and

Cinderellas brown bags and spongebobs

There were crayons and ninja turtles and power rangers

supermans and bumblebees

And Minnie mouses and mickeys

But I

I was different

I was elegant

I was brown, fundamentally Indian

Even on the one day that I could be anything I wanted

Anything


I paraded, my payals chun chun chunning

Through the hallways

I smiled, lipstick turning my mouth much bigger than it really was

Turning my smile much bigger

Than it really was


I won Best Girls Costume!

Thanks mom

But

I won

As a

Gypsy.

“Put your hands together for the young girl in the

GYPSY costume! What a great job!”

A panel of judges, bright light white

I explained, I’m Jodha

“Hush, hush, go back to your place now.”


Hush

Hush

Go back

To your place now


A bone hand on my shoulder

Hush hush

Back to my place now


But kids are resilient

They bounce back

Faster than sponges

I bounced back off the roof

My usual

I swayed my skirts around and

Hummed my songs

On the playground I was the queen

This was my kingdom


The kids looked at me weird

They asked

What are you

They asked it like

Why are you


I told them

But kids are resistant

They don’t get the things they don’t get

They said that’s weird who’s that

They said is that what a gypsy is

They said why didn’t you be jasmine

They said

They said

I explained

But they said


I’m tired


I went trick or treating

I had my coat

I had my pumpkin candy bag

I had my skirt

My drapes

My jewels

And I chun chun chunned through the streets

White moon over my shoulder


The first door I knocked on

Was Italian Mrs. Humphrey

Tall, dressed in black

Like ink on a fresh clear page

Cat ears barely visible

Cat eyes staring deep into my

Brown

Brown

Pools


“And what are you dressed as tonight?”

a sigh

“A gypsy.”

Cover Image Credit: Smrita Gupta

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

SEE ALSO: A Quick PSA To My Fellow New Jerseyians

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

SEE ALSO: What Being A New Jersey Driver Has Taught Me About Bad Drivers

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

SEE ALSO: College As Told By 'Jersey Shore'

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

SEE ALSO: The Garden State Guide To Essential Jersey Slang

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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The Political Strategy Of Nonviolent Direct Action Revolutionized The Civil Rights Movement

Boycotts, marches and sit-ins were used along with legal action in order to achieve racial equality.
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Although the Emancipation Proclamation attempted to end slavery in southern states, it wasn’t until 1865 that African Americans were freed from the shackles of slavery under the 13th Amendment. Despite the passage of other Reconstruction Amendments, African Americans failed to prosper in society due to the emergence of labor systems like sharecropping and racial segregation such as Jim Crow laws.

Plessy v. Ferguson reaffirmed the status of African Americans by upholding “separate but equal” racial segregation in schools, hospitals, buses, etc. During the 1950s and 1960s, civil rights leaders and organizations like Martin Luther King Jr. and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) utilized forms of nonviolent direct action such as boycotts, marches and sit-ins along with legal action and the media in order to end segregation and facilitate social progress.


Civil rights leaders Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. utilized nonviolent direct action in the Montgomery Bus Boycott in order to desegregate buses.

In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white person. In response, African American citizens of Montgomery stopped travelling by city buses to protest segregated seating. As a result, MLK, a strong promoter of civil disobedience, became the face of the civil rights movement and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Passive resistance, which lasted 381 days, proved to be successful because it caused the Supreme Court to declare segregated public buses unconstitutional. The Supreme Court’s decision overturned a Jim Crow law — which perpetuated institutional racism — that required whites to sit in the front of a bus and blacks in the back of a bus.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was groundbreaking because it called attention to the issue of de jure segregation and proved that peacefully protesting unjust laws to bring about change is necessary. Moreover, the large scale of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott silenced those who argued that racial equality was unachievable through nonviolent direct action. Not only did the Montgomery Bus Boycott serve as a model for other civil rights organizations like the SCLC, but it also encouraged other African Americans to stand up and advocate for racial equality.

Rosa Parks and MLK proved that boycotts were an effective form of nonviolent direct action because the Montgomery Bus Boycott resulted in the integration of public buses in Alabama, therefore allowing African Americans to use public transportation like whites rather than being isolated in the back.

Civil rights organizations Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) utilized nonviolent direct action in the March on Washington, Selma March and Nashville Sit-ins in order to desegregate public facilities and expand African American voting rights.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’s speeches highlighted African American hardships and inequalities, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by President Johnson. This piece of legislation overturned Plessy v. Ferguson by banning discrimination ("separate but equal") in public accommodations regardless of religion, race, color, national origin or gender. The addition of “gender” helped the women’s movement gain momentum.

In the Selma March, John Lewis and SNCC marched across a bridge to register for voting. This illuminated the problems that black voters encountered such as impossible literacy tests and the need for a long-term solution. As a result, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed to enforce the 15th Amendment. In other words, all citizens should be allowed to vote regardless of color.

In the Nashville Sit-ins, members of the SNCC demanded service in order to desegregate lunch counters. This method proved to be effective because African Americans remained true to their training of nonviolence by not responding to attacks from white people and simultaneously challenging unfair laws. The Nashville Sit-ins revealed the influence of African Americans taking united action along with their patience to tolerate unnecessary violence.

This helped African Americans garner support from the country because they portrayed themselves as calm individuals, whereas white people were considered violent and rash.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored (NAACP) took legal action in order to prevent racial discrimination.

The NAACP filed lawsuits regarding discrimination in employment, housing, etc. to promote pro-equality legislation such as Brown v. Board of Education, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Attorney Thurgood Marshall, founder of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), argued the Brown v. Board of Education case in court and became the first black Supreme Court justice.

Not only did Marshall break racial barriers, but he also fought the disenfranchisement of African Americans. The strategy of legal action proved to be successful because it called attention to racial inequality in America’s justice system. Filing numerous lawsuits highlighted the magnitude to which African Americans endured casual racism.


Forms of nonviolent direct action can also be seen in modern society. The National School Walkout involved students peacefully protesting congressional inaction on gun control. This event would not have been possible without the media’s ability to influence public opinion.

Social activism campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo and #WomensMarch have been successful due to the media. Currently, many brands and people are boycotting Facebook amidst its data privacy scandal. Nonviolent direct action campaigns are still used to spur social change today, and the media has always (and will continue to) promote social and political movements.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia / Rowland Scherman

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