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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37 Things Growing Up in the South Taught You

Where the tea is sweet, but the people are sweeter.
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1. The art of small talking.
2. The importance of calling your momma.
3. The beauty of sweet tea.
4. How to use the term “ma'am” or “sir” (that is, use it as much as possible).
5. Real flowers are way better than fake flowers.
6. Sometimes you only have two seasons instead of four.
7. Fried chicken is the best kind of chicken.
8. When it comes to food, always go for seconds.
9. It is better to overdress for Church than underdress.
10. Word travels fast.
11. Lake days are better than beach days.
12. Handwritten letters never go out of style.
13. If a man doesn’t open the door for you on the first date, dump him.
14. If a man won’t meet your family after four dates, dump him.
15. If your family doesn’t like your boyfriend, dump him.
16. Your occupation doesn’t matter as long as you're happy.
17. But you should always make sure you can support your family.
18. Rocking chairs are by far the best kind of chairs.
19. Cracker Barrel is more than a restaurant, it's a lifestyle.
20. Just 'cause you are from Florida and it is in the south does not make you Southern.
21. High School football is a big deal.
22. If you have a hair dresser for more than three years, never change. Trust her and only her.
23. The kids in your Sunday school class in third grade are also in your graduating class.
24. Makeup doesn’t work in the summer.
25. Laying out is a hobby.
26. Moms get more into high school drama than high schoolers.
27. Sororities are a family affair.
28. You never know how many adults you know 'til its time to get recommendation letters for rush.
29. SEC is the best, no question.
30. You can't go wrong buying a girl Kendra Scotts.
31. People will refer to you by your last name.
32. Biscuits and gravy are bae.
33. Sadie Robertson is a role model.
34. If it is game day you should be dressed nice.
35. If you pass by a child's lemonade stand you better buy lemonade from her. You're supporting capitalism.
36. You are never too old to go home for just a weekend… or just a meal.
37. You can’t imagine living anywhere but the South.



































Cover Image Credit: Grace Valentine

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I Didn't Get The Sex 'Talk' When I Was Younger, I Got The 'Talk' About Being A Brown Woman In America

Let's get kinda real for a second.

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I know this isn't the kind of articles you're used to. But, this has been brought to my attention and I think I should finally put my two cents in.

I am far from the kind of person that puts my opinions on politics, race, or anything largely provocative on social media. Mostly because I only like to speak on topics that I am largely knowledgeable on.

I have never really had an outward opinion on what it feels like to be a brown girl in America, especially Trump's America. Mostly because where I am from not many people consider me a person of color. However, I think I have a few things to say on this and experiences to share. So, buckle up kids.

America has never been a safe place for people of color. That much is common knowledge. Sure, times have changed and certain things have become a little easier, and being brown isn't necessarily a cardinal sin. However, for as long as I can remember, there have rarely been times where I have felt totally safe as a woman of color in America.

For as long as I could remember my dad has been pulled over and asked if he's been to a convenience store that's been robbed solely because he fits the description of tall and black. I've been stopped on the street walking with my white friends and they've been asked if I'm bothering them because I am the only person of color there.

Lately, the most recent events of police brutality in Lancaster really resonated with me and my experiences, and it has really hit me hard as to how unsafe America is for me and other people of color.

For those who don't know, Sean Williams, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania was seated on a curb attempting to follow the confusing instruction of a police officer, when he was tased in the back. He was not doing anything to receive this action. He was back to the officer, arms, legs, hands, and feet in full view.

Pennsylvania, while not the most diverse place on earth, is rarely ever a site of police brutality. I have always thought that I lived in one of the safest possible places. But this event brought up some childhood memories that made me realize, I have never been truly safe.

When I was very young, my dad, much like this man, was stopped by police and asked questions. He was very compliant and responsive. Yet still, he was forced to the ground and handcuffed. He was put into the back of a police cruiser and taken away.

I have been stopped, harassed, questioned, and sometimes roughly handled by police officers in my town purely for being colored and being out at night. My sister and I are afraid to go into certain parts of the area without our white mom because we have been followed, harassed, and asked to empty our pockets in public.

My grandmother gave me "the talk" when I was quite young. No, not the sex talk. The talk about what it meant to be brown in America. Most often, minority children get this from their parents, to prepare them for the fact that life isn't fair. Especially for them.

But that it is important to remember that as long as you do your best to be yourself and prove them wrong, you'll be fine. But to be honest, you always have to look over your shoulder, say the right things, do the right things, in order to lay low enough to get by. But even in my case, it has never been quite enough, and it shouldn't have to be this way.

I will admit, I never thought about being colored and treated unfairly until I started having notable experiences with it. Until it happened to me. But now that I've seen it, been there, and continue to see so much worse, I am haunted.

Men and women die every day for being colored, for being an immigrant, for being a brown person trying to make an honest living in a country that is supposed to be the land of the free.

This is just my experience, my opinion. Think of all of the other people of color in this country that have been through so much worse and go through it every day. It should make you sick, but why doesn't it?

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