F******: A Short Story

Her name is Terra, she’s an Orange County flower and I can’t help but think about her. When I first met her she made the ground I walk on shake. I can honestly say she’s perfect and I love her.

She’s the most beautiful girl in the world and I know her. And I love her, I adore her.

She’s a queen, she’s the image those Europeans dudes used when they made their sculptures.

I think I love her because I don’t look like her. I think about who I am, I wonder sometimes if what I feel is wrong, if I’m wrong for thinking about her the way I do. Sometimes I wish I were her just so I could feel as much love as she does. Sometimes I feel it would make me a better person to be loved.

Then I think about my dad and how much he’s taught me. I often wonder if it’s his fault.

If he’s the reason I am the way I am. I read in a book that most kids grow up at different ages and that a strong parental support system is needed to fully develop a child’s mind. That leads me to think that maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe in time I will change and it all has to do with the chemicals that my body is forming. Maybe I have to go to the doctor and get fewer or more chemicals; that’s what my friend Sean did and he says he feels fine.

I wonder what Sean is doing right now? He told me he likes to fuck his pillow when he has a hard dick. He’s probably fucking his pillow right now. When I asked my dad if he fucked his pillow at thirteen he didn’t say anything. I wonder if I should fuck my pillow?

I think I should try it later. Who knows I might like it.

I wonder if my brother Rudy does it? He’s always talking to himself when he thinks no one is around. He always wears mom’s clothes too. I wonder if that’s why mom likes him more than she likes me. Maybe I should wear mom’s clothes? Maybe if I wear my mother’s clothes I’ll feel better about myself or at least have something in common with Rudy. My dad says I should talk to him more, he says, “It’s good to have an older brother to look up to.” I wonder if my dad knows that Rudy sleeps with Mr. Keller from down the street. Maybe if I slept with an older man I might learn something. I wonder if Mr. Keller fucks his pillow when Rudy isn’t around. Sometimes I feel like I want to just tell everyone how I feel but instead I do nothing. I think so much about how I feel that it almost makes me doubt everything I feel. Then I see Terra, god she’s perfect. Her face could change the world, it’s already changed mine.

I think I’m going to just let her know how I feel, I’m going to let her know that when I first met her she made the ground I walk on shake.

I can honestly say she’s perfect and I love her. She’s the most beautiful girl in the world and I know her and I love her, I adore her.

She’s a queen, she’s the image those Europeans dudes used when they made their sculptures.

I think I love her because I don’t look like her. Maybe she’ll be okay with it. Maybe she thinks the same of me.

It’s like dad always says to Rudy, “Man up!” Maybe that’s why Rudy sleeps with Mr. Keller. Maybe if I “man up” good things will start to happen to me.

The next morning I wake up with butterflies in my stomach and can’t help but say, “Today is the day I’m gonna tell Terra how I feel.” I feel that the butterflies are a sign that everything will be okay. Terra and I have fourth period together, so I’ll let her know everything after our class. I can’t help but feel a little embarrassed, even nervous, the butterflies they just won’t go away.

During third period I talk to Sean and tell him what I’m planning to do. I feel like Sean might be my best friend. He often talks to me about his personal life and tells me things he swears he’s never told anyone. I know this because he always makes a point of saying “you know I’ve never told anyone this” before he spills his thoughts to me.

His reaction towards what I’m planning to do leaves me a little frazzled. He says “ what you like Terra? Nah man, she’s not right for you. She might be a lot of things but she’s not right for you at all! It would never work, does she ever tell you her secrets, like I do?”

At first I don’t understand what he’s implying so I walk away. Then it hits me “Sean must like Terra too!” It all made sense, I tried not to let this new revolution affect my goal.

Third period came to an end and I made my way towards my next class. I see Terra just like I always do and wave hello. During class Terra and I are paired in different groups so I don’t get to talk to her. The butterflies feel almost painful, my excited face can hardly contain itself. Fourth period ends and I follow her out the door. As I’m walking towards her I start to feel faint, I stand in front of her and ask, “Terra, can we talk for a second?” She agrees and we walk towards a tree near the back of our school science building. When we arrive I look at her and for a brief second I am calm. I smile as I look up towards the sun that is gently caressing her skin and say to her, “Terra I like you, I know it sounds strange but I like you, I tried not liking you but I just can’t! I don’t know if you like me but I have to just tell you, you are the most beautiful girl in the world to me!” She stares at me in disbelief. Before she can say anything I say, “Terra will you be my girlfriend?!” She takes a step forward towards me but then she yells, “No!”

The word feels like a million daggers stabbing me at the same time, my dreams annihilated.

Before I can ask why, I look down, there’s blood on my skirt.

Terra looks down and says, “This is why we can’t be together! It’s wrong, my mom says I’m not suppose to feel this way about you, she says this is a feeling that is reserved for boys that’s why we can’t be together, Felicia.”

Advertisements

Something Like Sexual Harassment

By Taylor Simmons 

Trigger Warning: This piece has depictions of sexual harassment.   

This piece portrays the beautiful beginning and the maimed ending of a relationship I had with a man.  It began with admiration and innocence. It ended with a sexualization that caused disappointment and confusion.  My want to share this story is rooted in a warm winter morning not to long ago, when I learned that other women close to me have experienced similar sexualized relationships with men who have the power to take advantage.  Here is the story.

I admired her.  I had been told her story.  She would tell the school what he did to her.  As I listened to her parents talk about it as though it was a distant event, one that was done to somebody other than their daughter.  Other than the girl they were responsible for keeping safe.  From the huge hurts of the world.  Sure the little hurts were inevitable.  Heart breaks.  Lay offs.  Experiences becoming memories.  But the big ones they assumed they could see coming.  The big ones were going to be brightly colored and have warning labels on them.  They would be able to save her from those.  If they focused on the fact that she was their daughter, they would not be nearly so composed.  They would blubber as their daughter has blubbered about it.  Upset was natural under these circumstances.  But they remained calm.  Both sets of parents remained calm.  Both daughters had had similar experiences.

I was one of them.

They sat on our distressed leather couch, the parents of this childhood friend.  It did not come this way, our various pets helped it achieve this look. They talked about what had happened to her.  I was sitting on the white, tile hearth in front of the fireplace. It triggered thoughts of my own experience. I thought about the emails he had written me telling me I was so interesting and intelligent and beautiful.  How he would give me a hug if I were to see him again.  I cringed at the thought of feeling the bulge in his pants when he hugged me tight.  Feeling his pelvis thrust slightly into me.

I will not share her story.  That is for her to do. I can share mine.

We sat outside in the warm summer air.  The past was so perfect.  We were working on a farm together.  A bunch of nomads talking of their experiences.  His daughter and wife were there.  They were a second family to me.  They had saved me from a dull summer of harvesting almonds and cucumbers.  He was my second father.  It was a romanticized time of manual labor, lightning bugs, and sunrise horseback rides.

Fast-forward 1 year. I traveled to England for a semester abroad.  He and his family lived there. I would visit when I needed a break from school or from my friends. We would watch football, not the American kind, or eat dinner, or watch weird independent films they had rented.  They had a bookshelf filled with Lonely Planet Guide books detailing the places they had already visited. Their next place would be Japan. I fell in love with this family.  They had risen up from a past as refugees from a conflicted country, and now they thrived in their little condo in North London. They were a novelty to me.

I wanted to soak them in.  His wife made jewelry that was featured in Vogue.  She got to travel the world showing off her artistic ability.  He was a teacher of Anthropology.

“Teaching is all about making up stories.”  He told me one night before our relationship was anything but innocent.

Their daughter had a style all her own.  She was three years my junior but she knew herself better than I do now.  She wants to be a vet one day.  I have no doubt this will happen unless her goals change.  However, she seems unwavering.

It was the day before my birthday.  21. I would be leaving London soon.  I was staying at their house, having been kicked out of my apartment and having a flight three days later.  The family was watching football.  His daughter went out with friends.  His wife went into the other room.  He stood up.  Half way out of the room he turned around.  It was as though he had decided tonight was the night that everything would change.  He offered me a drag of his blunt.  He was insistent.  I walked over to where he was standing.  He wrapped his hand around my hip.  His tanned, middle-aged hand, with a tattoo on his ring finger, began to stroke my hipbone.  I was confused.  As though reading my mind he made his intentions clearer.   Moving his hand to my lower back and then down even lower, taking a chunk of the flesh of one butt cheek.  He looked at me, curious as to what I would do.  I was frozen.  I didn’t know what to think.  I didn’t know what to do.  It evolved from there.

Originally I was flattered.  A man who I admired very much was attracted to me.  Maybe I was attracted to him?  Things progressed, and while I always stopped it before nudity and sex, he continued to roam my body when an opportunity presented itself.  I continued to let him.  Not “let.”  I continued to not resist.  Finally, it was time to leave London.  He continued sending emails that took a whole new meaning when he ended it with “a big hug and kiss,” I continued to respond, not wanting this friendship to end.  He was important to me.

The emails fizzled when I realized what had happened. And he realized I understood.  There was no closure. I realized that he had taken advantage of me.  I realized I had allowed him to.  I realized blaming myself was not an option.  But as I blamed him, it began to affect my relationships with other men.  Any men.  Friends of the family became sexual predators.  Men I dated would be kind and patient, and in bed they were the same.  But as I became more vulnerable with them, triggers would appear more rapidly.  Eventually paralyzing me.  The kind, patient men would not understand, making me feel guilty all over again.  It was a cycle.

It is a cycle.

I used to laugh when I told this story.  It wasn’t real.  It couldn’t have actually happened to me.  I was not grown up enough to have this happen to me.  He was a grown man.  I was still a child.  At moments I felt proud.  An excuse.  An excuse to act screwed up.  I liked the attention it got me.

I started going to therapy 3 weeks ago.  I am tired of this cycle. I went after the parents on the distressed leather couch explained to us what had happened to their daughter that warm, winter morning.  I blubbered to her, my therapist, the first time I told her what had happened.  I didn’t laugh.  I didn’t act strong.  I blubbered.

Climb Like A Girl

By Sean Lozano 

I’ve always considered myself to be average. Unless you take into account the fact that I identify as gay. Though, physically speaking, I’m pretty unremarkable. I may never attempt a marathon, but I enjoy getting out into nature for a good hike every so often. In high school, I shunned PE and team sports as heteronormative, jockish affectation. The idea of placing me in a Muscle Milk and testosterone driven environment like a gym is a real non-starter. Please, don’t “bro” me. So, when my friend promised that the local rock climbing gym would be different, needless to say, I was skeptical.

It was awkward, at first. There was a moderate amount of muscled guys, sporting the shirtless uniform, showing off by topping out on difficult routes using only arms and upper body strength. I was definitely out of my element and a bit intimidated to start working on beginner bouldering routes. However, after a few attempts and awkward failures, I managed to finish my first problems. After moving on to routes with a bit higher level of difficulty, I forgot about my discomfort and started having fun. I may have lacked style and grace, but I wore the blisters on my palms with the pride of having endured my first gym experience- and, much to my surprise, I managed to enjoy myself in the process.

From then on, I was hooked. After working on improving my technique and strength in the gym, I would head out on day trips into nature with friends to send some routes on real rock in Joshua Tree and the foothills surrounding Palm Springs. When I wasn’t losing sleep going over difficult problems at the gym in my head, I was watching old bouldering competitions on Youtube. Competitions exposed me to new names of athletes that were accomplishing feats of strength and dexterity that seemed to me to be almost super-human. As impressive as these guys were, I never felt inspired by their ability. “sure,” I thought, “I could totally do that, if I were 6’4” also.” With every awesome dyno, obscene toe-hang, or insane free-solo from these guys I felt less confident in my own ability as a novice climber. That is, until I started watching the women compete.

In a competition setting, the style of climbing may be different for each gender, but the grading of difficulty is the same across the board. For female competitors, just as men, strength and technique are key to success.  In order to overcome limitations of physical proportion, they adjust their technique to accomplish their goals. I immediately became enamored with the abilities of Alex Puccio. Standing at 5’2”, Puccio has strength that is impressive even coming from any of her male counterparts.  It was exciting watching her muscle her way through tough problems. When she struggled to reach a hold or finish a route, I found myself cheering harder for her, because I knew what that felt like. Her victories became my victories, because I could identify with her struggle.

Another athlete that inspired me to train harder was a 12 year old girl named Ashima Shiraishi. Ashima blew minds in the rock climbing scene when she became one of the youngest climbers to finish problems that were first set by climbers twice her size, with twice the experience. By utilizing her size, she has perfected a technique that allows her to top routes that elude even some of the most seasoned professionals. When I get in the gym and feel frustrated by a difficult problem, I don’t think “Well, a 12 year old girl can do it. Why can’t I?” Shiraishi possesses a natural ability and mental fortitude that transcends age or gender. Instead, I become inspired to look at the problem in a different way in order to see where I’m going wrong and determine a new approach. Her ability to focus on her strengths to overcome her limitations is a motivating factor that I carry with me indoors and out.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by strong female role-models. To start, I would only have to look as far as my immediate family. My mother has managed to raise me on my own for my entire life. Despite not having a second income in our household, or having someone else there to help look after me, my mother was able to provide me with a great childhood.  I look to her for guidance and emulate her work ethic on a daily basis. For that I’ll always be grateful. Another representation of strength would be my Grandmother, who came to the United States from Mexico to start a new life and strive for a better future for her family. Despite the language and cultural barriers she experienced, she, along with my Grandfather, was able to raise a family who later achieved their own success as first generation Americans. The accomplishments of these women are woven into my own sense of identity and are part of the story that continues to be told throughout my life.

With all of these examples of the influence that women have had on me, it would be easy to consider myself as simply a feminist. If rock climbing has taught me anything, it’s that the story of struggle is universal. There are so many Illustrations of people around the world overcoming adversity. When you hear of women who are working on their own to provide for their family, it’s important to remember that there are also single fathers who are out there doing the same thing. For every immigrant coming to the United States in search of the American Dream, there are refugees escaping to foreign lands from war, famine and climate change. For every ethnic minority who works for fair and equal representation in their society, there are people who seek freedom of religious expression in the face of intolerance and persecution. And for every scrawny gay guy out there like myself who struggles to carve out their own definition of masculinity, there is a handicapped individual somewhere who strives to be seen as a pillar of strength in their community. If my journey from the climbing gym has taught me anything, it’s the ability to see past bias and personal limitations in order to gain wisdom from that which may be different from me.

For many, taking a stand for social justice may seem like an intimidating or uncomfortable task. However, there are ways that we can make a difference everyday that don’t require us to be Martin Luther King jr. It begins with the understanding that all issues are interconnected. When a sense of empathy is applied to our everyday interactions, it allows us to recognize the similarities in the hardships we each face daily. After recognizing those problems, we open ourselves to appreciating the different ways that we each deal with these obstacles, further enabling ourselves to learn from one another. This bond may even inspire us to educate ourselves further on the gaps in progress that we face toward tackling these issues.  Finally, we will hopefully be inspired to make a conscious and unified effort to correct our behaviors. This action can be as simple as giving consideration to those who we would normally pass a negative judgment toward or speaking up against ignorant remarks or actions. The size of the action we take is not what matters. What matters is whether or not we make an effort at all.

Justice is striking the balance between building strength communally from the diverse strengths of the individual. Though we each have a different way of tackling common obstacles, each way is valid and serves to enrich the overall human experience. This balance allows us to learn from one another. It allows us to understand that an attack on any gender, race, creed, sexual orientation or disability is an attack on the bond that allows us to thrive together.

The Fable of Bundled Sticks

By Jessica Alberg 

There is the sound

of snapping sticks.

Ridged backbones of branch

broken, cut, cracked.

It is the idea that hands

can destroy an individual

but if one were to gather sticks

into a bundle it would be impossible

to snap them all at once.

So how does one destroy a movement?

Simply take into your hands

an individual man, and kill him.

It will be a simple, thoughtless gesture.

Then take all the other men and women,

show them that you killed the man.

Tell them you did. It is necessary then,

that you take the bundle of them

and untie the knot of string.

It is easy to do—

teach them differences in death: value, authority, safety.

Tell them you understand these things and they do not.

If I was the farmer,

and I stood before my sons who bickered and fought

I would not simply take the sticks and show them

that there is strength in unity.

I would show them too,

who unties the knots.

That deep within them,

is something that tries to separate us all.

The fear of being the one without value.

Our value is in what we gather and share.

So I would recommend gathering the sticks.

South Park Blocks

By Glenna Gee-Taylor

The South Park Blocks, in Southwest Portland, was among the first places I visited when I moved to Portland. I have always lived in the suburbs, a charming former mining town in Colorado with the lowest crime rate in the country for a town of its size; so, to me, Portland was the big city, and the big city was intimidating. The South Park Blocks is just on the edge of downtown, where the streets become less business-oriented and more residential. I, like Jane Jacobs, felt more comfortable where there are businesses, assuming, as Jacobs did, that the more people who are watching, the safer I will be. The park made me a little nervous. It was not well lit, and I didn’t know what was around the imposing buildings surrounding me blocking out the last of the sunset. I had also just spent a week on my new student trip, focused on homelessness in Portland, and so I was making a conscious effort, trying not to judge a place or people based on appearance or suburban prejudice. The second time I visited this park, for the purpose of this assignment, it still troubled me, but for different reasons. The South Park Block is on the edge, physically, between the central downtown and the more residential outskirts, but also the edge between status as a public space or a private space.

The South Park Blocks is plural for two reasons. It is literally plural – eleven historical blocks. They were the first designated green space in Portland, and originally they were on the literal edge of town, narrow plots of land bought up by a philanthropist in the throes of the public park movement. The public park movement emphasized the use of places like parks and public museums for moral uplift, to allow the industrial poor a venue to improve themselves. The South Park Blocks are clearly designed to do just that. Though small, the blocks do provide respite from the surrounding hectic city. There is a certain serenity there, partially because the block is surrounded by rather tall and austere buildings. The height of the surrounding buildings provides privacy from the surrounding businesses and residences, and cuts down on noise in the area. This provides an ideal setting for the uplift that the creators of the park were looking for. The constant cacophony of a city was seen as a means of stifling thoughts, especially thoughts of workers who not only lived in the city, but worked in loud factories or shipyards as well.

The blocks are also plural in their pluralistic ideal; the park was originally intended for all as a place of democracy and equality. As the city grew around it, the park became a center of culture, and it remains that way today. There are definitively public cultural aspects of the park. No one will stop you from walking in it, talking in it, or examining the sculptures in it. In the central block of the park stands a statue of Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, entitled “The Rough Rider,” and a block over is a statue of Abraham Lincoln, both meant for public uplift. They were both donated in the 1920s and both have lengthy plaques giving the history and significance of the figures. The park and its amenities are meant to be inclusive to all, including Portland’s sizable homeless population. The benches in the park do not have the dividers that many benches throughout Portland have; one could sleep on the benches. The park doesn’t have signs to discourage the homeless from sleeping, unlike the downtown signs that proclaim that the sidewalk is for walking only. Though these things are not actively encouraging a homeless presence in the park, they do not discourage it, and so the park is a meeting and sleeping place for many. This public park is an institution that does appeal to the entire populous, including white middle class families who fled metropolises in the 1960s and 1970s to escape what Alison Isenberg referred to in “The Hollow Prize,” as the “atmosphere of racial conflict.” The park, though intersected by a college campus, is an easily controlled and surveilled area, the narrow blocks surrounded by high buildings provide an ideal situation for government control echoed in Mike Davis’s “Fortress L.A.”

As time passed, privatization crept in both physically and culturally: the South Park Blocks have become less open to all. One of the first things I noticed on my return to the South Park Blocks was that the park had hours. The park is only open from five A.M. to nine P.M. on weekdays, and this is one of the only times I have ever seen hours posted for such a classically public institution. This distinction between the public and private spaces is blurred in this park. The South Park Blocks are surrounded by institutions of uplift, which started out for the benefit of the public but which have evolved into more private endeavors. Though the Oregon Historical Society or the Portland Art Museum were originally intended for the benefit of all citizens, these establishments have become privatized in that they now charge an entry fee, capitalistically monitoring who can enjoys the culture that the park was supposed to be the center of. These cultural landmarks were originally created to cater to all, but as patronage of the arts became less important these institutions were forced to charge an entrance fee to stay afloat, especially in the depression of the 1940s. It is hard for these institutions to use Leach’s “Strategies of Enticement,” they cannot use show windows to directly display merchandise; they have no merchandise to display. Museums must advertise themselves as a way of life, as a means for the rich to separate themselves from the poor. This is in direct opposition to original intent of the museums, as a means of uplift, not as a commercial venture. The trend of these institutions from free to fee follows the wider trend from public towards private. The park movement intended to provide the economically disadvantaged with a means to enjoy art and cultural leisure. Imposing a fee, however nominal, to gain access to these institutions excludes the very population that the parks movement was trying to reach.

The first victims of privatization of classically public places are always the homeless. In another dichotomy between public and private, there are not only aspects of the park that are friendly to the homeless, but also realities that would deter homeless people. There are no public bathrooms, not unlike the “Fortress L.A.” that Mike Davis wrote about. The lack of public restrooms is a war on the homeless. It essentially forces the homeless to all be in one part of town: the part with public restrooms. It is incredibly degrading to not have a place to relieve oneself, and the elimination of public bathrooms dehumanizes many Portland residents. The idea is that park goers will use bathrooms in the surrounding private institutions, museums, or businesses, but homeless people are often denied access to these institutions, and this plan is a transparent attack on the homeless population. There is also a distinct lack of public drinking water in the park. Though even a few blocks away there are Benson Bubblers on every corner, the park is conspicuously lacking. This is another deterrent for the homeless and makes the park a less desirable place for anyone to spend the night. These actions are deliberate and fall in line with the posted park hours. The South Park Blocks make a statement – a specific class of people is meant to populate the park. And though it was not always meant to be this way, the current economic apathy towards culture has required changes to be made. Consumers must be attracted to keep the institutions economically viable and to attract a more affluent class of shoppers downtown. Aas evidenced in both in “Strategies of Enticement” and “The Hollow Prize,” there must be a pleasant atmosphere, a gemütlichkeit, and that requires a clean and orderly downtown, free of the unpleasant image of homelessness or even poverty.

The South Park Blocks are a reflection on the wider trend of Portland and the country as a whole. Though many places seem public on the surface, more and more ways have been found to privatize even the most public of institutions. I find the park a pleasurable place to spend time, but it is easy to see the kind of patron that is ideal at the park, and if I were not that ideal, I would be uncomfortable. Public places are rare, and though the South Park Blocks are not as public as they used to be, even the appearance of a public space is somewhat gratifying. While I was at the park, I was struggling to find the date that the statue of Theodore Roosevelt was erected, and without hesitation fellow park-goer pointed me towards the plaque. The public nature of a public park can never fully be eradicated, and while that can be seen in the South Park Blocks, so can the increased privatization.

How Do I Participate in Oppression

By Julia Withers 

A large part of social justice, for me, is investigating how I perpetuate systems of oppression in my life in order to change and to improve in my allyship. This curiosity and desire to increase my awareness led me to research the campus and the college that I attend. The Lewis & Clark campus ranks among the nation’s most beautiful campuses, a campus that includes a preponderance of Northwest Coast Indian style art. However, only 0.5%-1.3% of students attending Lewis & Clark over the last 10 years were of American Indian or Alaskan Native descent. In this instance, perhaps we should consider how we participate in oppressive structures by being a part of the Lewis & Clark community. Walk into Watzek and see an Indian mask next to a Native-style rug on the wall. Go up the stairs to be confronted by a six-foot pelican totem. Glance upwards to see Native-style stained glass windows, and American Indian motifs covering the roof and exterior walls. Still, students originating from indigenous communities are utterly lacking. This contributes to the perceived invisibility of American Indians by showcasing Indian art on campus as non-living artifacts of the past, while failing to intentionally encourage living individuals of similar heritage to inhabit the space.

Take Agnes Flanagan Chapel, for instance. Don Smith, the artist hired in 1967 to create the four Northwest-style carvings mounted on columns in front of the chapel, states about the project: “At that time, they were fine for what they were–tourist poles.” His comment suggests that he did not see the audience as an appreciative community, but rather as onlookers seeking a culturally exotic form.

Furthermore Smith, also known as “Chief Lelooska,” meaning “Whittling Boy” in Nez Percé, originally carved the four columns––intended to be Kwakiutl representations of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John––out of cedar. Yet the architect behind the chapel decided to cast them in cement. His use of concrete rather than cedar could resemble a melding of two cultures, as Lewis & Clark’s website claims. But it could also represent another kind of “possession” of art and reinterpretation by colonial society. By removing the ties binding the art to land and instead making it one with industrially built architecture, the pieces lose an essential element of American Indian meaning.

Lelooska claims Cherokee ancestry but lacks formal affiliation. He nonetheless speaks of this connection: “Indianness is an attitude; a deep abiding respect for all things natural.” Moreover, a “melding of cultures” implies that an even ground exists for both cultures to equally influence each other. However, this ignores how the history of colonialism has continued to shape our country and our campus.

Lewis & Clark should seek to occupy a middle ground by recruiting living Native people instead of simply showcasing their cultural artifacts. Moreover, the college should shape its education to best empower Native students to transform society from a place of their own terms. I still hesitate to use the term “empowerment” because then, I am defining what power means for others. What would Lewis & Clark look like if it allowed people to define power for themselves and also granted them that power? Lewis & Clark should foster kinds of knowledge that allow Native students to challenge received notions that are known in hegemonic terms as “common sense” rather than perpetuate education as a colonial legacy like Indian boarding schools did.

The present Lewis & Clark College community has a social responsibility to recruit Native students and reshape its education because genealogical ties link the current community to the past one. The historicized Lewis & Clark College is bound up in the structure of settler colonialism. For example, the renaming of the college in 1942 to “Lewis & Clark” and the adoption of the “Pioneers” mascot exemplify this perpetuation of colonial violence and silencing. The name “Lewis & Clark College” erases the historical significance of Sacagawea and York in the Corps of Discovery, while the Pioneer mascot champions frontier violence, land seizure, and colonization of Native peoples. The land of the campus itself was also seized from Chinookan Multomah, Clackamas, and Cowlitz peoples.

Lewis & Clark should seek to occupy a middle ground by recruiting living Native people instead of simply showcasing their cultural artifacts. In this way, we may be able to stand behind how our campus looks and redeem these acts of indigenous erasure by making our college a more welcoming and empowering place for Native people. When walking through campus, I suggest that we consider how the legacy of colonialism affects Lewis & Clark and how we as individuals have the power and the duty to transform it.

The Turn, Or, Why I Wish They Taught Junot Díaz in English Class

By Emma Post 

A piece for ENG 300: Poetry Writing

November 18th marked the due date of our final poem. The prompt was individualized, based on each student’s work throughout the semester. My poem had to include more than one “turn” or “volta”: a poetic tradition wherein a line or lines signal a shift within the poem. The turn is a common tool used by poets as a way to create a condensed narrative arc. It helps us to feel like something has changed: the writer’s thoughts, sensory feelings, or actions. Hopefully, it alters the readers themselves, so that they feel something new simply by reading the poem. My assignment, to include two of these turns, coincided with a new sense of disillusionment I have felt about Lewis & Clark. This discontent stemmed from worries about the classes, curriculum, and material that were being presented to students. Actually, it stemmed more from what was not being presented to students. On November 18th, I read this piece aloud for class. At first it acted as a poem, but turned quickly into something else.

I couldn’t write the right

poem for today.

Flipping through old works,

trying to create the new.

Books on my shelf,

inspiration, consternation.

The turn is at the start,

the turn is falling apart,

a heart a heart a glowing heart

The intrusion, my inclusion, its falling apart.

maybe that is part of the sweetness of this moment

maybe it makes me bite my fingernails,

but that is amazing too.

I share this moment with you

because otherwise there would be

no juice left to drink.

The very bottom

where everything is more orange. The chalky

bottom where everything ignores us.

In which you are not so smart

as you are now,

not so enigmatic using words like enigmatic.

Ripping

rippling

rhyming and

just introducing:

words and absence.

Who ever understood anything:

the Anthropocene

the art world

the squirrel in the back yard

the turn.

So, in a poem (now, not so much like a poem),

I am angry.

Because I’ve done almost four years here and have only taken

one class that solely featured a black author.

I’m angry because I have only taken one English class that has focused primarily on women authors, when all the other choices feature, completely and prominently,

dead. white. males.

This is not because there are more or better white male writers. Let me repeat this, just so I can remind myself: This is not because there are more or better white male writers.

I am angry because the emphasis on old British literature has been justified to me too many times

I am angry because too many times the “classics,” have been explained to me as classics because they are the basis for all thinking,

the platform from which we, as students, can lift off to new levels of discovery and understanding.

This signals the next turn and twist:

What if that platform is built upon the thinking of dead. white. old. men? And if under that thinking lies the invisible lives/stories/writings/ and artwork of thousands of other people writing in English: black, transgendered, Indian, Jewish, Filipino, Latino. What if, by placing these Western-centric, white men as the baseline from which all other writing and thinking stems from, we are continuing a new and more insidiously invisible form of racism at our own institution?

I don’t deny the importance of reading works by Chaucer, Wordsworth, Milton, Jefferson, Plato, Faulkner, Hawthorne, Freud, Thoreau, Shakespeare, etc etc etc. But when that is the only option, when most English majors have become pigeon-holed into taking classes which skew the focus to an dead, male and white population, then what do we end up learning and thinking about? And how will we compare all other writing to this “norm”? By offering only these classes listed here next semester which emphasize writers outside this “norm,”—Medieval Renaissance Women Writers, Race and Performance, Major Figures: Ralph Ellison—what does that say about who and what we value at this place? None of the classes I just listed above are required, when perhaps they should be. In fact, most majors I know have not had time to take classes like these; they are forced to fill their semesters with other requirements (four alone in old British literature) that have never, at least in my experience, featured a black author.

That makes me, both as a woman and as an ally of people of color who have repeatedly spoken about their feelings of invisibility at LC, feel under represented and not pertinent. And I am scared that other students, particularly white males, unintentionally and only very deep down, feel that these more “diverse” authors are not pertinent either. When you are not exposed to and do not analyze poetry, novels and essays of differing origins than this one “norm,” you start to believe that all other writings are abnormal. And they become obsolete and invisible through their absence. Just like people do, when they are underrepresented and consequently devalued by the invisibility of their work.

This is why I find it hard to write a poem in meter or a poem about my mother’s apple pie or a poem about being in love or a poem with anaphora and perfect rhyme. This is why this has slowly disintegrated from being a poem. And when is it a good time to bring this up? When should we feel unashamed to speak openly to our professors? As Junot Diaz reminded me last night at Reed College, “Shamelessness, especially for a non-traditional student, needs to be developed. The temptation to get approval is vast and is antithetical to real learning. Real learning, which is discovery”. I wish there was a real turn in this story, I wish to see things actually change. When will the E&D curriculum shift? When will English majors be required to read Alice Walker, Louise Erdrich, Chang-Rae Lee, Nikki Giovanni, Etheridge Knight, Audre Lorde, Elie Wiesel and Junot Diaz? That would be a real turn, a real volta, the real transparency needed for us to be fully educated and perceptive students of literature.

Addendum: If you speak with authority to Professors about the academic material you find important, they will listen. After reading this in Jerry Harp’s Poetry class, and having a whole day dedicated to talking about race in his ENG 205 class, he tweaked the syllabi for both classes to include a greater diversity of authors. Now, in Jerry’s 205, you will read a piece of an autobiography by Olaudah Equiano. Equiano was an African-British author, whose work was integral in bringing attention to the African perspective of the slave trade. You will also read Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and her reactionary poem to Jonathan Swift’s satirical and misogynistic piece entitled “The Lady’s Dressing Room”. Both Montagu and Equiano were writing during the late 1700’s. Their work was amidst and also against an overwhelming tradition of white male writing. Reading them is like discovering invisible stories, the ones that are just as real, but not justly remembered. They represent the untold history, they represent the turn.

Exploring the Travesti Community in Argentina

By Sofia Knutson

 

In Argentina, the term travesti is used to refer to transgender individuals. This essay will therefore use the term travesti referring to transgender individuals in Argentina. The discourse regarding sex, sex category, and gender is based on the essay “Doing Gender” (West and Zimmerman 1987). In this essay, sex is defined as the socially approved, biological markers of sex which typically refers to genitalia. The sex category is the sex assumed by others based on actions and other socially gendered displays an individual may have. Gender, on the other hand, is based on the individual’s adoption or rejection of actions and displays, defined by society via the sex category, due to the feeling or desire of being more or less masculine and feminine (West and Zimmerman 1987). The analysis of policy, media, and the travesti community is grounded on the essay by West and Zimmerman. However within the analysis I keep in mind that the travestis in Argentina do not necessarily abide by the local social constructions of sex, gender, and sex category; travestis live in a gray area between male and female and between masculine and feminine. While the evidence for this essay unfortunately does not come from direct interaction with travestis in Buenos Aires, all news articles discussed were published in Argentina. Along with having personal experience of living outside of Buenos Aires for three years, my analysis of the travesti community in the Argentine capital strives to be sensitive and particular to Argentine people and culture.

Understanding the Argentine, and specifically the Bonarenses, sociopolitical space for travestis requires the knowledge of the geographical space travestis occupy. At least for a living, the travesti prostitutes do business in the popular park Tres de Febrero. However this has only been the case since 2008 when the Head of Government of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, decreed that travestis perform their business in the park rather than the famous Rosedal, the capital’s rose gardens (Tomino 2008). While moving the travestis out of the Rosedal reveals prejudice, seeing as the Rosedal is not only in the area most embassies are, but is across from the United States’ Ambassador’s residence, the fact that Macri allotted a popular park as the space for the prostitutes’ economic activities sanctioned the travestis a geographical area. Furthermore, the political action allotted a space within the political sphere for travestis to be discussed. Luckily, the room given for political rhetoric revolving the travesti community in Argentina has progressed to be more accepting of the individuals and their rights.

Argentina can be seen as one of the most liberal countries in the world when assessing the rights endorsed by the government and population granted to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, and Queer (LGBTQ) communities. Since 2010 the city of Buenos Aires has allowed same-sex marriage and, as of May 2012, the city passed the Gender Identity law permitting Argentine citizens to legally change their gender regardless of sex. One of the most exciting components of the law is that there are no requirements for an individual seeking to change their gender legally to make physical changes to their bodies: there is no need for doctors to ensure mental sanity, hormone therapy treatment, or sex reassignment surgery. The Gender Identity law is the only one in the world which allows individuals to assert their gender and sex category based purely on how they feel. The law even permits children, those under the age of eighteen, to legally change their gender given that their legal guardians agree (Argentina 2012).

Yet what happens when an individual does not adhere to the normative gender binary? What do you do if you are living in between the hegemonic distinction of male and female? The Gender Identity law does not approach this problem, but also does not give a definition of gender or different genders. The Gender Identity law does allow travestis to legally adopt the name they go by and gender the individuals feel most comfortable with, but this means travestis must conform to gender normatives instead of having a law conforming to individuals outside of the socially defined norm. The Gender Identity law is a success for the LGBT community, then, and allows space for the travesti community.

A look at newspapers shows interest and understanding of the travesti community, but also reveals how strongly violence is correlated with the travesti community. There is an article which mentions violence surrounding travestis when it covers the rape of a young travesti in Buenos Aires (“Violan a un travesti en los bosques de Palermo” 2006). This article was published before legislation recognizing the rights of travesti individuals, but while referring to travestis with a male article, “un,” the article also defends the rights of the travesti individual to not be raped.

One article from a different national newspaper and that takes place in Buenos Aires narrated the story of Marilyn. The headline reads “Mató a su familia, se hizo travesti en la cárcel y se casó”—which translates to “Killed their family, became a travesti in jail, and got married”—without gender identification which is typically found in the Spanish language. When describing the circumstances as to why Marilyn had killed her mother and brother, the article refers to how the family “comenzaron a hostigarlo” and “lo molestaban”—they harassed and bothered him—using references to his masculinity, at least when describing the time before his ‘conversion.’ However, when the article is describing how excited Marilyn is to plan the wedding, she is referred to using feminine language (“Mató a su familia, se hizo travesti en la cárcel y se casó” 2013). While this article appears to be respecting the fact that Marilyn is a travesti, it also highlights that she murdered her family. This article from Buenos Aires, then, reveals how media portrayals, while still associating the travesti with violence, can also keep in consideration the right of Marilyn to affirm her identity as a travesti.

Existing in the gray area between the gender binary makes life difficult for travestis from an economic standpoint as well as a political one. Prejudice, oppression, and discrimination lead to the inability to attain a job as a travesti. Prostitution and other activities parallel to the formal market, and therefore typically illegal, are the easiest ways for individuals and communities who are marginalized to survive. In 2011, an article was published in the newspaper Clarín describing the Zona Roja or Red Light District of the Tres de Febrero park in Palermo (Coronel 2011). The article described how the travesti prostitute community had come together. While Coronel claims that the marginalization of foriegners was visible due to their location in the back of the park, he also revealed that, regardless of nationality or other conflicts, when a travesti is being accosted the travestis forget their differences and come to the victim’s aid. While both foreign and new travestis must earn their geographical area to do business, “where there is a novice there is another with more experience. Always. The bigger ones protect and show the code of practice” (Coronel 2011). Prostitution, then, while dangerous and likely not the ideal economic activity off which to base one’s survival, is a major way travestis are able to form a community. But the desire for other forms of making a living have led to the creation of social support and networking to gain access to human capital.

Since 2008, when the city of Buenos Aires sanctioned the popular Tres de Febrero Park which, during the day, has runners, cyclists, dog walkers, and families, to be the center of travesti prostitution at night, the geographical space allotted to the travestis also allowed for a space in political discourse. Argentina has since become one of, if not the most, liberal countries with regards to government endorsement of rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, and Queer communities. Progressive political and legal advocacy for LGBTQ rights has also translated into the progressive acceptance of the LGBTQ community in media and thus society. While certain sectors of society criticize travestis, even more conservative critics are concerned with the vice of prostitution and the ills the act causes rather than upset with the travesti community. While prostitution has helped create a community for travestis out of the need to protect each other from stigmatization or to show each other the ropes, other economic activities have been sought out.

While the economic sector might need to catch up with legislation and society, Argentina still proves to be a model for countries looking to endorse the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, and Queer communities.

Sueños Sin Fronteras

By Alex Perez

 

If I had listened to those voices telling me over and over again that I wouldn’t have made it past high school, I wouldn’t be the strong and determined individual I am today. After high school, many have the opportunity to succeed in life, and a college education is a seemingly easy route to success. Even though there is no way to measure the percentage of undocumented immigrants that pursue a college degree, different sources state that less than 5% will get a bachelor’s degree. Once undocumented students finish high school, major road blacks are put in their way since they are prohibited from obtaining federal loans, only 14 states provide in-state tuition for these students, and some universities in Georgia and Arizona prohibit undocumented immigrants from enrolling in their schools.

Currently I go to George Fox University on a full-ride scholarship that was awarded to me based on a combination of my academic and leadership achievements. Out of over 400 students in my junior year, I am the only undocumented student. I wear this status like a badge of honor and am the only student on campus who is open from a handful of DREAMers. Fear of humiliation, rejection, and deportation are some of the factors that keep DREAMers in the shadows about their status, but this is a fear I have learned to let go of. Once a face and name is put on a social issue, they make the situation more tangible and real. I cannot vote for legislators that can advocate for my rights, but by being open about my status and being a positive contribution to my community they will hear my voice. Over the last few years DREAMers have started to fight for their rights, and the light is beginning to shine.

The tides are beginning to turn for undocumented students like myself and over 1.4 million immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, including many who have limited memory of foreign lands they used to call home. President Barack Obama put out an executive order mid-June of 2011 called DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). This means individuals who were brought as children to the US, are continuing their education, and have a good criminal record can be authorized temporary protective status (not having to fear deportation) and obtain work permits.

I could have mentioned all the different troubles that being an undocumented immigrant has brought, but the positives are currently outshining the negatives.  Soon I will be completing my college education, and with a work permit, will be able to give back to my community all the blessings that throughout the years have poured into my life. Thanks to DACA I was able to obtain a paid internship last summer, get my first car, and work full-time while getting my bachelor’s.  More importantly, I do not fear deportation while I continue my education. There are individuals who consider me a criminal, outlaw, illegal, etc. for reasons that are not under my control, but deep inside I consider myself an American.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough: On Listening, Fucking Up, and Having Hard Conversations

By Danielle Blechert

Setting up for aftercare at a predominantly white charter school, I overhear a conversation between a white male teacher and black female parent. She asks if the school’s director and teachers would be interested in participating in a conversation on what Portland Public Schools are doing to promote and support diversity. The teacher nods and gives a brief albeit vague comment about how she can get in touch with the director. The parent revisits the idea of having teachers attend and again gets a glossy, quick response from the teacher. He looks uncomfortable. He looks like he doesn’t know how or want to engage in a conversation about diversity and race. As the conversation trails off, he laughs for no apparent reason. I wonder if his laughter is the byproduct of being uncomfortable, a coping mechanism or a micro-aggression. Racial micro-aggressions are defined as, “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults towards people of color.” By laughing he asserts his position of power, subtly and maybe unintentionally, saying, “I’m not taking this conversation seriously.”

So, what does it mean to attend a college largely comprised of upper-middle class, white students, be one and call oneself an advocate for social justice? In part, it means redefining what it means to listen, to really listen. Such listening entails shutting up, giving space for anecdotes and potentially uncomfortable subjects. It means refraining from correcting, redefining and relating the conversation back to you.  All too often we respond to a friend’s story with one of our own. While this is well intentioned, an attempt to relate and build empathy, what it really says is “Ok, you told your story; I half-assedly listened; now it’s time to talk about myself and how your story relates to me.” Advocating as a white upper-middle class individual also means you may feel the inclination to speak for and about a group you have no apparent affiliation with. Accordingly, it means you should probably think twice about “helping” another person before assessing whether they actually want or need it.

That being said, as a recent article by Ngc Loan Trn noted, we should make space for fucking up, for making mistakes and respond by “Calling In” folks, as opposed to constantly calling them out. They define Calling In “as a practice of loving each other enough to allow each other to make mistakes; a practice of loving ourselves enough to know that what we’re trying to do here is a radical unlearning of everything we have been configured to believe is normal.” Fucking up is a natural by-product of having biases that are deeply rooted in an often racist, sexist and classist society. We have to own up to the fact that our behaviors are habitual, deeply engrained and worthy of scrutiny. Constantly criticizing and monitoring others behavior discourages conversation and puts people on the defense, especially if it comes from the mouth of someone they do not trust or respect. Often, we’re so afraid of saying something wrong, we say nothing at all. Americans may have trouble openly discussing suicide, domestic violence, and race for this very reason. A coworker recently told me, “When opportunity arises to discuss these ‘taboo’ subjects, when you’re feeling uncomfortable, when things get icky, push through because that’s when progress happens.”

So here we go, let’s get icky. Let’s talk about how problematic the phrase “giving voice” is. It implies an inherent lack of voice when in truth; the voice exists. The phrase “we are giving voice to [insert marginalized community]” is deeply embedded in our language and seldom questioned. It’s problematic because while the “we” may amplify the voice, give it a platform, it sure as hell doesn’t “give” these folks a voice.  The fault lies in our ineptitude with listening. Case in point: the song Same Love. While I am in no way denying the impact of the song or picking a bone with Macklemore for writing it, I am drawing attention to the fact that, for many, it took a white straight male to finally hear the message that queer folks (often of color) have been spreading for some time. Let’s also talk about how problematic it is that middle-upper class white folks often “act thug,” engage in “ghetto” culture and make light of twerking. Let’s talk about how by being in a position of power, upper-middle class white folks get to “visit” what it’s like being black without having to experience the societal injustices often inflicted on black folks. Let’s talk about how I recently had a conversation with a white male LC student on the racist acts on campus and he responded, “What about freedom of speech? What if they were joking?”

Let’s talk about when to listen up and when to speak up. Let’s talk about how to admit and amend our fuck ups.

Let’s talk.