“Except as a punishment for crime…”

After watching the documentary 13th, these are my afterthoughts…

The 13th Amendment: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

“It’s not the brutality that’s changed over time”…

They found the loophole. They found their saving grace.

They found a way to create the new Jim Crow Laws, to mask the identity of the lynchers, the abusers, the killers.

The system’s been reshaped, redesigned, reformed, renewed, restored to its former glory!

Hardly even recognizable.

They found it.

Gone are the days of wearing all-white dresses, masking their guiltless faces with the crystal veil, separating them from the ones they deem unclean and unworthy. Their hats pointing high to God who they call upon to grant them the keys to the kingdom.

This time, they look us in the eye. This time, they are camouflaged. They’re with us. They’re our own neighbors, our own friends. We welcome them into our homes with open arms and open hearts, even though the gun is cocked right to our heads. Plain sight.

We entrust our lives with them, hoping that they will keep us safe. We hope that they will keep the evil guys away. And even though we watch them as they pull our kids from our laps and throw our very sons and daughters to the ground, we continue to pour more of ourselves into them and allow them to feed off of our tears, our sorrows.

We watch in unblinking awe and beautiful terror as they pull the trigger on our youth, sealing their fate. They take away our children’s freedom in order to protect their own, yet we smile to our protectors through the bloodshot and tired eyes, and applaud them on a job well done.

The devil is gone, and we are safe.

They are keeping the evils away. Oh, the irony.

Oh, how glorious it must feel to keep slavery alive! To reminisce over old days and old ways of oppression.

The stubbornness of a country to bring back their “glory days” and the “good ol’ times” when they were the superior race and only their life mattered.

How lovely the feeling of being on top at the suffering and expense of the bottom.

Let’s not call it slavery. Let’s call it mass incarceration.

Dehumanize the competition, annihilate the race little by little, as to do it without the mass even noticing it.

Shove them into cubicles unfit for even a rabbit. Feed them the crumbs. Clothe them with rags. Forget about their health!

Put them to work. Punishment is hard labor, but make a profit out of it. Let them call it… community service.

But let’s not stop there.

Get them from the root of their home. Tackle the whole family. After all, 1 in 3 African-American men in America will find their way home to the big house.

And the stereotype will live on. “Black children don’t have dads.” “Black families have the highest rates of divorce and separation.”

The education system has already given up on them. Prisons started building cells based off of elementary school standardized testing scores. Hell, their school already believed that they would not amount to much, so why should they believe in themselves?

Just like Trump said, “Get ’em outta here!” Who needs them, right?

After all, the American dream was only dreamt in one color.

They’ll make a fortune out of this business. They’ll bring back the “glory days” and “good ol’ times”.

They’ll restore peace and happiness, Oh yes!

They’ll make America great again.

Figuras Tectas

Title is Latin for “hidden figures” ūüėČ

I just came from watching a screening of the movie,¬†Hidden Figures and… I feel so inspired by these women.

Okay first off, there was this lady sitting right in front of me who would not just sit stiff. AND she overreacted to everything that happened in the movie. She found every single thing funny, and when things were actually funny, she wouldn’t laugh. She danced to every single song and… it was just alot. I was so distracted by her. Even a girl behind me commented on the fact that not everything in the movie was funny…

But BESIDES that, the movie was absolute art.

I loved that it was based on a true story, the idea that these women are finally being recognized ¬†for all the work they did for NASA (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson). It’s crazy just how much we go through history knowing some of the big-shot names, the huge supervisors of it all, yet the people working behind the magic are not recognized. For example, Rosalind Franklin is hardly ever mentioned in biology textbooks (though, I believe people are working to change that) because she was a woman just working in a lab. But her x-ray picture of DNA helped to ultimately find its true structure. But is she the one credited for it? Nope. Watson and Crick, the people who stole the x-ray picture off of her desk, were the ones who ended up getting the Nobel Prizes for the discovery. In that time, women were not allowed to receive Nobel Peace Prizes. Unfortunately, Franklin was not recognized until after she had died.

I did not even know about her until 9th grade of high school. All that time, I was told “Watson and Crick”, “Watson and Crick discovered DNA!” “Watson and Crick found the helical structure!”

Since the beginning of time, women have been over-worked and under-appreciated for the work they do. This movie just brought up so many more feelings within me about the idea of science and women in science, especially colored women.

These women did some incredible things for NASA. Without Katherine Johnson’s phenomenal mathematical skills, NASA would not have been able to put the first American man into space. Without Dorothy Vaughan, women probably would not fight for the right to demand a higher job title and higher status. Without Mary Jackson, colored women would probably not think it possible to become an aeronautical engineer, or an engineer at that. These women changed America’s (and the world’s) idea of the STEM field. America used to look through a black-and-white lens, but these women put color into it.

Over the past few weeks, I really thought about the idea of being a physics major. After taking physics last semester and being in my second semester, I realized just how much I love the science. It’s the only class that I actually have opened the textbook and actually enjoyed reading it. That has NEVER happened for me in a STEM class. I remember how back in high school, I was actually really good at physics. I was one of the few people in my class (only 3 of us) who passed the AP Physics exam.

Last week, I was walking down the physics hallway, and they showed a picture of their graduates. Their classes are TINY. Their graduating class is about 25 students (compared to my bio graduating class of over , and, to no surprise, they were all white males.

I was a little surprised at how small the department was, because the professors all seem like geniuses in the field, and they are all super enthusiastic about it. I would think that there would be more. NOPE.

I have also always been fascinated by the idea of an engineer, the idea of space, the idea of being able to take someone and send them out of the earth. I thought (and still think) aeronautical engineers are the coolest people on the planet. I remember going to the Aerospace museum in DC over Thanksgiving break 2015 and I was like a fat kid in a candy store.

The place was amazing!

They had airplanes hanging from the sky, biographies of the world’s most renown flights, they even had an entire exhibit dedicated to Amelia Earhart.

Now, no one really knows this, but Amelia Earhart is one of my favorite people in world history. I don’t know what it was, but her disappearance was the most fascinating thing to me. How did she just disappear and no one know where she was? When I was young, I used to come up with alternative ideas as to what may have happened to her. I thought that maybe she decided to reside at a nearby island.

I have always thought, “What if I became a physics major?”

First off, I would be highly under-estimated, like the women in the movie. None of the men thought that these women were worth much. They al prejudged their intelligence only to realize just how important and needed they are in the field.

Anyways, it’s still an idea.

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, a black female physicist who is breaking boundaries all over the place in STEM research, is my role model right now (besides Chimamanda Ngozi-Adichie, of course), and she has me thinking, “Why don’t I just change my major?” she was the 76th black female in the US to get a PhD in Physics. I thought that was crazy. Where are the women? Why are the numbers so small?

Shell shocked

*I apologize in advance for all of the spelling errors and the sharp transitions between different scenarios*

I don’t think I have ever witnessed as dark a day in America since 9/11 as yesterday (11/9)

It was rainy and gloomy. It was said that even Washington D.C. was mourning.

I saw my friends who always showed hope and optimism in their eyes walk around yesterday in darkness and vacancy, as if their breath had just been taken away from them.

I walked down the path to my class (already running 10 minutes late, but I didn’t care because I had a restless night) and while walking, I didn’t hear anything for the first time.

Silence.

I felt and heard a bubble of silence around me. It was like everytime that someone passed me down this path, no one said anything. Maybe because it was out of pity, maybe it was out of guilt, maybe it was out of sympathy, empathy? Whatever it was, I felt it. People turned their eyes to the ground. Others looked at me with sad eyes. Some people gave a sad smile as if they had heard that I had lost someone, like I had lost something.

Freedom.

I wasn’t a big fan of the silence. It made me feel uncomfortable in my own skin. It was as if looking at my skin color was an automatic indication that I was not with Trump. On the contrary, there were definitely a handful of people my color who sided with him (only God knows why, but they did). Of course, I could not bring myself to support the guy because he conflicted with too many of the values that I held true and dear to me.

I meant to write a blogpost about the election yesterday, but I couldn’t motivate or energize myself enough to do it. I didn’t think I would be so physically and emotionally affected by this whole election, but it has actually taken a toll on my mental state.

I could hardly even wake up yesterday. I had a hard time falling asleep because I couldn’t come to terms with the result.

What just happened?

The night before, my dorm held a viewing party to watch the election. The entire main lounge was full of people. I was coming in and out of the room because I had homework, but it seemed like I couldn’t even focus on it. I didn’t get any studying done, because I was so distracted by it. Every time that I heard yelling or shouting come from the lounge, I would run to see what had happened. I also saw that people were also doing the same thing as me. I just kept popping in and out. I was suppose to be studying for a Biochem quiz for the next morning, but I couldn’t. It didn’t work. And meanwhile, my roommate was asleep during the ENTIRE thing.

As in, she went to bed at 6pm and slept throughout the night. She got up at around 11:30 just to see results, and then she went straight back to bed. It was as if it didn’t really matter to her. She seemed unbothered by it. I don’t believe she even voted because she never got the absentee ballot in the mail.

I really didn’t like her, but anyways…

I saw the main room. They were worried. They looked stressed. I remember when I first came into the room and saw that the votes were 120-97. I was utterly confused. I was wondering who were these people who were voting for him? How could so many people agree with his policies? With his ideas, his plots? I was scared, because I really couldn’t imagine a future¬†with him as president.

So I kept faith. I kept on holding on to the fact that more states would make the right decision.

I was actually suppose to have a dance rehearsal until 11pm that night, but I convinced them to cancel so that people could watch the elections. Thank God that it was cancelled, because we would have missed the majority of it.

When I saw the news… it was an unexplainable feeling.

It was about 2 am.

I had finished talking to my mom who had gone to bed because she had work in the morning. She didn’t really watch the election all the way, so she didn’t know until the morning about the results.

I, on the other hand, went to the main lounge only to see that the entire room had cleared out. Everyone went home. It was at that moment that I was scared. No one was rejoicing, no one was even watching the elections anymore. Something had gone wrong.

There were about 7 people in the room just staring at the screen. They all looked tired and worried.

I looked at the screen and to my dismay, I saw 266-215.

What. Was. Happening?

This couldn’t be. There was no way. The polls leading up to this day told me otherwise. All news stations were pretty confident that Hillary would have an easy win. There was no way that this man who was the laughing stock of the US, not to mention the world, was about to be president.

I sat down ¬†on the blue couch on the side with my Biochem study guide in hand. Anderson Cooper and some other guy with a beard and glasses were talking about the election and they were giving us updates. 5 minutes later, I hear a woman on the screen say that there has been some breaking news…

Hillary had conceded.

It was at that moment that the whole room went silent for a second. Even the news anchors kind of went silent for a slight second. It was shock. It was finality. It was unbelievable.

The news anchors asked the lady if she was sure about 2 more times, and she said yes, it was confirmed.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, what I was watching. My eyes stared in horror. Some people in the room started crying, shaking their heads. Someone yelled at the screen, “Bullsh*t!” Other people stormed out of the room. I was still sitting there motionless, my mouth wide open in shock.

It wasn’t until I saw Trump walk to that podium with his family and supporters behind him, and I heard cheering, I saw all the bright red caps reading, “Make America Great Again” in white bold letters…

It was a horrifying sight.

He came up to the podium and confirmed what everyone now knew was a fact, “Hillary called me and conceded… It’s over”.

I lost it.

My eyes welled up with tears and I quickly walked out of the room, went to my room, sat at my desk, and cried.

I cried for all those people who looked to America for hope. I cried for religious freedom. I cried for same-sex marriage. I cried for peace. I cried for safety. I cried for the undocumented. I cried for the children. I cried for families, even my own. I cried for my parents’ efforts for a better future. I cried for my mom who received her first taste of freedom when voting for the first time. I cried for the future generations. Hell, I cried until I forgot what I was crying about.

I felt like I had just lost all hope for humanity in that one instance. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t feel anything. I felt numb for a second. I felt vulnerable. I felt like I had let my entire family down. I felt lonely, hopeless, drained, stressed, tired, sick, angry…

I even stayed awake until 4am just watching the news some more, still not processing what had just happened. I was waiting for the news to say that it was a joke, that they were wrong, they weren’t done bringing in votes, the girl didn’t know what she was talking about.

Everyone had gone to bed. It was just me in the lounge. I stared at the 6 people discussing the elections on CNN, including Anderson Cooper.

I don’t know what it was, but I couldn’t stop looking at him specifically.

I’ve already expressed how much I loved Anderson. He’s my favorite news anchor because I feel like he’s the only one to be very real with people, to not act like the omniscient, indifferent onlooker that most anchors like to emanate.

That’s why after the results came out, I wanted to see his reaction. I wanted to feel justified in my feelings towards these results. I wanted to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt something. Anything.

And I saw it.

I believe it was how he kind of stumbled through his words while talking to the other anchors (who seemed perfectly okay with it, I might add). Though he was wearing glasses, he just seemed kind of shocked. His eyes were kind of squinted, as if searching for words or trying to wrap his head around what had just happened. He wasn’t standing still like he usually did. He was swaying, he was talking alot with his hands.

And it was at the moment that I felt a little better. Just a little bit.

But when CNN decided to take a commercial break, I saw Trump’s face shown on the Empire State Building with red, white, and blue lights on it, and it just looked scary, so I turned off the TV.

I went back to my room kind of in a daze.

I feel much better today now that I have had the chance to talk about it yesterday and hear from others about their emotions. It was comforting to know that I was not alone in my feelings.

The day after the election was a gloomy one. No sun, no light. Just darkness, moisture, cold, cloudy.

It was comforting though to see how my university dealt with the matter. When I say that this thing affected my entire school… I wasn’t kidding.

My inbox was full of people emailing, checking in on people, saying that they were okay to not feel okay, telling them about all the mental help programs on campus, offering condolences, giving time and their space to people who wanted to talk, saying that they understand that this election did not result the way that they had hoped…

The response was somewhat overwhelming. It was as if we had all lost something in this election and professors were completely understanding. So many people received extensions on papers, postponing of assignments, no deductions on participation if they were absent, it was very heart-warming. And some professors called in sick and said that class was cancelled. It was almost like there was no class that day because my classes were pretty empty as well. In my Biochem class, the entire first row was empty. I had a quiz that morning, but I missed it because I could hardly wake up on time. I was outside of the room along with many others who decided not to take the quiz, and there was a guy talking to his friend, saying how badly the results were. He was cursing and yelling, getting emotional, and it just seemed okay with everyone around him because we all felt that way. We all understood him.

When I entered, even my professor was a little shocked to not see me sitting in the front row as I usually do. I had never missed a quiz in his class. He seemed a little sad, and I felt his eyes on me for a second. And then the class started. Obviously it was really quiet.

I was the only one sitting in the front row, and I don’t know what happened, but I was sitting there and I think that’s when I really started to think about what would be happening to my next 4 years.

A single tear rolled down my cheek while sitting there. In the middle of lecture. And then another. I had to quickly get myself together because, I mean hellooo, I was sitting in the front row!

And I was the only one in the front row! I didn’t want anyone commenting on me getting emotional. I didn’t want the pity or anyone looking at me with those sad eyes.

I managed to get through that lecture, not retaining a word of what he said, and I went to my physics class. In there, it was also quiet. Many people hadn’t shown up for class. During that class, I knew that Clinton would be talking, so I sat in the back and opened my laptop to watch her speech. Normally, the professor would’ve told me to put the laptop away, but I guess today he just knew that no one was in the mood, so he didn’t say anything.

I watched the speech, and it was a sad one. Hillary was wearing purple along with her husband. She had walked out, and it was not very evident, but her eyes were somewhat red. But she still looked great. She was smiling and bowing her head at all the claps and cheers given to her. She kept clearing her throat to hold back tears. I really congratulated her on how strong she was. I wouldn’t have been able to do what she did and still does.

I skipped my physics lab because I just couldn’t handle it right now. I wasn’t mentally there. My mind kept going back to the election with every situation. So I sat in the biology office and did my physics homework due that day. It should’ve only taken me an hour, but it instead took 4 hours. Part of it was that I was with a friend who definitely wanted to talk about the election, so we kept talking about it while working. People would come in and we would talk to them about it. So yea, it just became more of conversation than actual work.

There was someone who I had not spoken to since last year. We were not on good terms. She came into the office and I easily went back to physics while she was talking to my friend.

We used to be good friends, but due to many circumstances that had happened during the summer, we were not friends anymore.

So she came in, and I was surprised that she was even talking to someone next to me given that she never wanted to even be in the same vicinity as me. When she left, she said “Bye you guys.” I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me because we hadn’t talked in months and there were other people in the room. So I didn’t say anything, but maybe I should have. She came in again later, but I still couldn’t make eye contact with her. I couldn’t even talk to her. I couldn’t tell if she wanted to.

Maybe due to this situation, it made it okay for us to talk, but I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to her. Plus, I was scared that things would just go back to the way they were after all of this kind of calmed down. So I said nothing. I worked on physics, and acted like she wasn’t really there.

I kind of wished I had said something.

That night, I had a Nicaragua trip meeting, and even the coordinator said that she had skipped her workday today because she couldn’t handle it. She made us go around the room and kind of say how we were feeling. It felt comforting to know that not one person in the room felt okay, and it was okay.

Right after the meeting, there was a debriefing facilitated by a group on campus. Soo many people showed up that they had an overflow room. It was just a time to talk about how we were feeling and initiate dialogue in groups. My group talked about how we weren’t comfortable with the idea of so many people agreeing with many of the things that Trump said. We wondered what went wrong, gave possible explanations, talked about how this affected us directly and why we were bothered by the idea of his as president. We talked about how college campuses tended to be more Democratic and why that was. A guy talked about how most of his family was Trump supporters, and how he felt distant from his family. I talked about how a friend had told me that on the night of the election, when Trump has won, he had heard cheering down his hall. When he went to see what was going on, they yelled at him “Border control! Border control! Go back to your home!” Everyone was shocked that this blatant racism was already starting. We also addressed how we felt a little weary about friends who voted for Trump because it felt like they did not respect them as a person.

After the talks (which were super comforting I might add), my vice president talked to us. It was at that moment that I realized that even the people in high power such as him were not okay with this. He knew that there was a problem. If he knew there was a problem, then there were many others who were not okay with this.

After that debriefing, there was another debriefing in my dorm lounge. People talked about how they felt, and how they were dealing. Even religion came into it. Many people believed that these were the final days, but they also felt like some religious people were giving up. While some felt like God had deserted them, others felt like God was teaching America a lesson.

One thing I really took away was that though the times looked bleak, we needed to stay optimistic and stay encouraged. It is definitely hard right now, but somehow it will get better. This is just the beginning.

My roommate was there. And this may have been the first time that I noticed that people kind of felt how I was feeling.

Alot of what she was saying was… just not what people wanted to hear at this time.

She talked about how the way she dealt with troubles was by assuming the worst. She said that she knew that things get bad and she knew that Trump would win, though not by as big of a margin as he did. But she accepted the fact that life is bad, the world is evil, and that’s just the way it was.

Well, that didn’t sit well with people to say the least.

One girl blatantly said that she did not agree with her and that it was not the way we should look at life. Of course, my roommate tried to justify herself many many times, but it wasn’t working, it only made matters worse. It came to a point where someone else had to interject and say that people deal with things differently and that we needed to recognize it.

Shortly after, my roommate quickly left the room.

After leaving the room, many people were talking about her, and for a good reason I guess. They were going off saying that this girl needed to nkow when she was wrong, and that it was not okay to feel the way she did. Some didn’t know that I was her roommate, so when I said that, they looked at me with shocked eyes and they said , “I’m sooo sorry.” I was just like… yea I know. Even my RA was in there and said, “Now y’all see what I have to deal with” and she even looked at me and was like, “She knows what I’m talking about.” I laughed, but I knew that she was right, and it felt good knowing that people didn’t think I was just crazy when I talked about just how much I had to go through in the room.

Well, this morning (11/10), she called someone and started loudly saying how she felt like her opinions were not taken into account, and that she didn’t understand why people didn’t see it the way she saw things. She said how she thought the open space was not really an open space and that the girls were close-minded, and that she didn’t like it here and so on and so forth…

And mind you, she was yelling and cursing and going down the halls on the phone, so you could tell that she wanted to be heard by everyone. She even left our room door open. And this was 9:30am, when some were still asleep.

Well, she came back to the room and… needless to say, someone was not happy about this. On the other side, I could hear a girl yelling in the bathroom to someone in the bathroom with her, saying that “This girl needs to realize when she is wrong and that she needs to calm down. She should know that everything that she was saying was wrong.” I went to go and fill my water bottle to hear a little bit of the convo. The last thing she said was, “You need to tell that girl to check herself.” That’s when I realized that she was talking to my RA who also lived in the same suite as us. I walked into the room, and well it was a little awkward. I mean we already don’t talk, but still…

She called back the person she was talking to and said, “I don’t know why this keeps happening. I know that I’m going to be transferring, but I feel like anywhere I go I will have the same problem.”

I just grabbed my coat and bookbag and left…

On the night of the election, I was confident.

I was confident in the fact that America was smart, that they were accepting, respectful of other cultures, of other people. I was confident that atleast more than half of the population was in favor of peace, of unity. I was confident that Americans would make the right decision and vote not only for themselves, but for this country’s future. I was confident that people would not vote to condone more violence, murder, racism, dehumanization, rape, injustice,

I was confident that she would win.

As for the emails… no politician is perfect. In fact, a majority of the tactics used in politics involve pulling strings here and there, calling up the people that you know to help you get to high places, and this idea of justifying acts using utilitarianism where things ¬†that may be unlawful and unjust are done for the greater benefit and the common good. Every politician has done it, but since she’s in the limelight, of course the media will exploit this to no end.

I do understand that what she did was wrong, but her evils couldn’t possibly be placed on a similar scale to Trump’s. The only thing that I know that man does well is business.

It hurts to feel like my vote did not matter. This was my first time voting (yes, that may give you a small indication as to where I fall in age), and I was excited. No, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that I would be able to do such a thing as an American citizen. This is something that my ancestors could not even imagine me doing. My mom also voted for the first time. She was so happy. She texted me saying that she went to the voting booth and casted her vote in. That same day, I decided that I needed to cast my vote in quickly.

Especially during times like these when it may seem like the voices of the smaller number are not being heard as much, it’s comforting to know that there is a right that we know cannot be infringed upon.

Unfortunately during this election, this right was abused.

11,000 votes for Harambe?? That’s equivalent to a medium-sized college all wasting their vote away! I was horrified, and am still in shock at the fact that people could waste votes on that while there are people in America who still do not even have that right.

I also am surprised at the huge discrepancy between poll results and the results given throughout this election by newpapers and articles. Being in such a position to swindle the decisions of voters should not be taken lightly. Thoughout this election, people thought that Hillary would win. Hell, I became soo confident in my thoughts that I almost didn’t vote thinking that my vote wouldn’t matter

America tends to hold this strong egocentric idea. When I say ‘egocentric’, I mean the thought of America and only America, the idea of only taking care of their own and no one else. If you ask many Trump supporters why they voted for Trump, they will possibly tell you statements along the lines of, “I want my America back, the way I remember it,” “My life won’t change significantly, but I want the government to be about the people instead of themselves,” “I don’t want another Clinton in the White House. It will give our government a bad rep,” “I don’t want to lose my job to immigrants,” “I want to feel safe,” “I don’t want the US to be in such a huge deficit anymore, ” “I don’t like Obamacare. I don’t have to use it, but it was a failure,” “He knows how to make deals that will make America great again,” “I completely hate Trump, but I want conservative laws,” “I want the American dream, and that’s what I’m getting with Trump”…

I… I… America… I… I.. I… America… America…. I… I.. I… I… America…

Let’s think about this…

America is a world superpower. Why is that? Only God knows, but it just is.

We have wayy too much power in our hands just to only think about ourselves. The rest of the world is depending on us for almost every aspect of life. We are suppose to be the most-advanced people in the world, yet we are failing at even choosing the right leader.

In fact, we put the least-qualified man in the position to take over the world. No political experience, never been in a war (besides business conflicts), didn’t study law, hasn’t the slightest clue as to the structure of this government…

I bet some politicians are pissed at the fact that a man who didn’t even need to study law could become the president of the United States while those who have been working in politics all their lives could barely even get on the ballot. How messed up is that?

I have two friends studying abroad in France, and when they heard about the elections, they were as shocked as everyone else. The next day, French journalists stopped them and came up to them, asking them about the election: what were their thoughts? How did they feel about it?

The fact that the rest of the world also saw that this situation was not right, it wasn’t good… And the fact that controversial leaders such as Putin are¬†congratulating him… does anyone else smell something fishy there?

Stories from the Past

Growing up, I really wish that I had spent more time asking my parents questions about their past. It’s something that had never come up in¬†our conversations, and I wish it had.

Last week, I had mentioned how I had a paper about genocide, and it was a topic that I became super interested about.

I don’t think I have mentioned this in any of my past posts but… I’m Nigerian.

My whole family is Nigerian. I’m the first in my family to ever be born in America, which is exactly how it sounds: exciting yet daunting.

I’ve always asked my parents about how they met or how they came to America, but I never received much information about it. It seemed like something my parents just didn’t want to talk about.

But today, I had to call my dad about financial aid matters, and then, as usual, we diverged to other topics usually related to school. He would talk about his friend who has a daughter in Brown and she decided to pursue her Master’s after graduation. I talked about how I was still looking for summer storage and I was debating on whether I should stay this summer or stay at home.

Then it got to the topic about college and if I was on track. I reminded him that my birthday was in two weeks, and he was surprised at how fast time had flown. He talked about how he had finished school at a much later age. Then he really thought about and wondered why he had finished so late. I told him that maybe education was started much later in Nigeria. He said that that wasn’t it.

Then he said it was because of the civil war.

It was then that I had a lightbulb moment. I told myself that I would ask him about it, but I completely forgot until he mentioned it. Wow, would you look at that?

I had tried asking my mom about it a few weeks ago, but she was really tired and said that I should just try to ask my dad about it. But I forgot to ask him…

So for my genocide paper, I had wondered if Nigeria had ever experienced a genocide, and it turned out that they did have a civil war/genocide called the Biafran War between 1967 and 1970. about 2 million Igbos were killed during this time (and my family is from the Igbo tribe). I looked at the places that this had affected, and it affected the exact places of where my parents were from. I was super intrigued and wondered why my parents had not mentioned anything about it.

My dad was born in 1959 and my mom in 1964 so I was really wondering if this had affected them at all.

Apparently it did, much more than I would have ever imagined.

So I asked him if it was the Biafran war that he was talking about, and he said “Yesss”, as if a bunch of memories just flooded back into his memory.

There was a civil war brought about by religion in that Christian Igbos in southern Nigeria were trying to secede from the republic of Nigeria (which had been established on October 1st, 1960) which was majorly Muslim, and they were trying to make their own state called Biafra. The war was brought about my government officials (who were all Muslim) who didn’t support this event. As a result, the Biafran war began.

My father was about 8 when the war started and it didn’t end until he was 11 year old. He was still in school during this time, and he talked about how anytime there were bombings happening, they would all run into the bushes to hide.

The Head of State, who was an Igbo man, was killed, which is one of the events  that helped to start the war. He said how his family eventually relocated out of the area  (about 3 hours out) and into the village where trees would hide them. I asked him if he had witnessed or heard anything. He said that he could feel the bombs hitting the grounds, and he could hear the airplanes flying over and dropping bombs on public areas such as schools and churches. Then, after every bomb the military soldiers on the ground would come and catch and kill the people who would survive the blasts.

During this time, there were killings happening everywhere. He said how on trains there were fathers being killed while the mothers and their children were allowed to escape.

Bridges connecting the Igbo land to Yoruba and Hausa lands were blown up, and the ports on the southern region of Nigeria were closed off. The Igbo people were closed in, making the annihilation of its people easier.

He talked about how times were so hard while in hiding. He had to fetch water with the elder women from a stream that was 5 miles away at about 5 in the morning. Usually a girl would have done it, but his mother bore no daughters, only 7 sons. As a result, since he was one of the younger kids, he had to do it.

He talked about how he had plenty of brother- and father-inlaws who were drafted into the army to fight in the war, and he never heard from them again. The little kids weren’t drafted because of schooling.

He talked about how the whole year after the civil war was over, military men came to every door, searched the houses, and collected all guns and weapons from everyone. His father had a gun that he hid in the kitchen, but he had forgotten that there was a bullet somewhere in the house. When the military approached and searched their house, they found the bullet and interrogated his father about where he was hiding the gun. His father tried to lie and say that he may have sold the gun or something, but then the military men pulled out their gun and hit his father with it. That was when his father had to pull out the gun from its hiding place and hand it over to them.

I was completely shocked by this. My father had witnessed this along with his brothers and his mother. They had done this when everyone was home, and everyone had thought that the war was over. According to my dad, there were still plenty of killings going on and it was still unsafe to leave your house at night.

He said how during this time, no school was in session. Everyone was in hiding with their families. As a result, he didn’t attend school until the 3 years of war were over. Unfortunately, they also had to make students repeat grades, so he really didn’t finish all of his schooling until the age of 27.

He says how to this day, no Igbo men are allowed to be in office due to this event. The only ones allowed are Yoruba and Hausa.

He explained to me how Igbos were considered the minority during that time, and they were treated as such. They were not respected as people.

He says that this mindset led to Igbos being more industrial and stronger people. They started building industries, working with mine and oil, and created a stubborn mindset among the people.

My dad also says that this led to the reason why he wanted to leave Nigeria. It wasn’t a nice place at all. He wanted to come to America.

He says that everything he does today was shaped by that event, and he could never look at Nigeria the same because of it. Unfortunately, this event has also led to him and many other Nigerians not having very good thoughts about the Muslim faith.

I don’t think I would have ever thought to ask my dad more about this subject if it hadn’t been for the anthropology class. I wonder just how many stories my parents had and they were not telling my sisters and me. Don’t they know that this is how we preserve our culture? Do they know that these are the stories that need to be passed down generations? Without them, we lose our culture, and we lose everything that our ancestors worked so hard to establish.

Two Passions in One Week

So many things have happened in the past week! I feel like I have started almost every post this way, but it’s true. College is starting to become a little more interesting.
So let me start with the most recent event.
I am still writing up my Genocide paper for my Anthropology class, and as I am writing about it, I have learned that I really do love learning about this subject. Any subject where a large amount of people died from either their government or an environmental force will catch my attention. I am writing about the Rwandan genocide that happened during the 1990s, and I have delved so far into the topic that I still have no idea how I am going to finish this paper. My professor gave me a 2-3 page limit, but I just cannot see how I can fit so much information within those boundaries.
I found this book online that talked about how war rape was such a huge thing during this genocide, and the book gave accounts of women who were victims of it. They shared their stories along with what happened to them during this time and how it has still affected them today. I was only given a few pages to read from the book, but now I am so interested in it that I am going to look for the book in the library. I now was to read so many more books about the women along with other victims of these happenings.
From my research, I have learned that about 250,000-500,000 women were raped by soldiers and the Hutu people. From that number, an astonishing 70% of those who lived tested HIV positive. I was shocked by these statistics, and it is still exceedingly hard to wrap my head around it.
It’s crazy to see how much you will learn by just reading.
And in the book, the women also shared how they all bore children from these rapes, and how hard it is for me to look at their children and not see the man who had raped them. I felt for these women, but I was even more moved by the fact that not a single woman chose to abort the pregnancy.
One thing that all the women seemed to do was place their children before their own lives. They all held a deep fear that they would die before their children and they would be left as orphans. I wondered what their government was doing to save these children and to help their people. Was the government still in denial that the genocide had even happened? Did they even want to help their people?
I have been searching for a club on campus that would begin a fund to help these women who were victims of war rape and who now have children that they must take care of. I have also been searching for a club that will inform people on the effects of genocide. I don’t believe that people know the severity and that people even know that genocide is predictable and preventable.
Maybe I should be the one to start the group. Maybe that’s the group that my school is looking for, though we already have too many clubs to even count.

 

The other passion that I found was a passion for chemistry. Now, many people call me crazy for actually calling Orgo my favorite class. Since high school, I have heard the horror stories involving organic chemistry and molecules.

But then I got to the class… and I was pleasantly surprised.

I loved it!

I loved the molecules that we are learning, and I love how we can synthesize anything we want after taking only one full year of organic chemistry. It was like candy for me.

I knew that I was always into making things. I loved working with my hands.

I have always loved DIY projects, I built toy houses for my dolls. I would create posters. I loved when science fair came around when I was little because I loved designing my display board. I loved crocheting and making new things. I loved fixing things too such as anytime when something was broken in the house. I loved using tools. I also kept a little collage of pictures that I drew where I designed my own pumps and heels. I loved arts and crafts.

I just loved working with my hands.

I think that is why I love orgo so much, and the lab that goes with it. I love how I can mix different chemicals together to create different molecules. I loved how I could make structures depending on the solvents I used. It was all really fun for me.

This is why I want to double major in chemistry and biology, but I honestly believe that I am hanging onto biology only because I have already fulfilled most of the requirements for it.

I love everything about it, and I am so excited to take more class in it.

So here are my two passions, and boy, does it feel good to find things that you love.

Hopefully, I can come back and read these posts to remember what I love.

Planning Before Actually Knowing

I had made a four-semester plan for myself in order to see if I could really major in the subjects that I wanted to. I realized that I would need to take a few things during the summers and winters, and I told myself that I would get a scholarship for them.
One of those classes happened to be in a country that I learned more about in my anthropology class: Cambodia.
I learned about it through my research dealing with genocide. I chose the class for the winter break just because it fulfilled requirements that I needed in order to graduate, not because I actually took an interest in the country.
While researching about genocide, I told myself that I would love to go and visit one of these countries to see how the country is currently doing. I wanted to see if there were any effects due to the genocides that happened in the areas.
The first genocide that I had researched was the one in Cambodia. I didn’t really know much about the country, but when I heard that a genocide had occurred there, I wanted to learn more about it. I did, and I was astounded by the fact that the genocide was not talked about more than the Holocaust.
Now, after researching about the country and its people and the history of genocide that happened there, I realize that maybe it was a good move on my part to plan to go there for a class. The class would be teach me about the government, the people, the history… literally everything that I now held an interest in.
I planned this before I knew anything about the country, and now everything is falling into place. I am so excited, and I hope I will actually be able to partake in this trip. Of course, I’m going to need to apply to plenty of scholarships for this trip… and for college in general >.<

Dehumanization and Extermination

Part of my latest anthropology class assignment is to write about genocide and the process of it. When I first received the assignment, I was super confused. I thought genocide was just when someone was an extremely racist person and decided to kill everyone that they hated. I didn’t know that there was a process to it, as in a PLAN was actually made for the wiping out of huge groups of people. As I learned more and more about different genocides over time, I learned that they have all followed the same pattern, and that fact scared me.
These kinds of topics always got me really angry. In fact, any type of action where innocent people are killed or hurt always angered me. I just wanted world peace. Was that too much to ask for?
So I did a whole lot of research today about genocide and the process behind it. It turns out there are 8 stages to genocide: classification, symbolism, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination, and denial. I am not going to go into a huge amount of detail with each other because it will just stir up anger in me again that I am not ready for. I have an organic chemistry test tomorrow that I still need to prepare for.
But right now I am not interested in organic chemistry right now, because I am now super intrigued by this topic.
I read about the different genocides that have happened over history. Of course, the first one to come up was the Holocaust led by Adolf Hitler. In the past (like during my senior year in my room at like midnight during winter break. Random, I know), I had already sat and watched a 3-hour documentary about the event. After watching it, I had rage that you would never believe. I watched the concentration camps and what were inside. I imagined myself inside those people’s shoes and my stomach felt like it was turning inside out. Imagine the fear that those people felt. I imagined how some of those people had already accepted their fate. And it’s interesting to know that over 6 million (at the top end, 11 million) people had their lives taken away by this event. By this hatred. And what really angered me was at the end of the documentary, how people denied that this event even happened right next to them. American soldiers forced people out of neighboring places (who all said that they had no idea, though the smell of dead bodies was unavoidable) to come and see what their country was doing. Many people got sick, others started crying, and others still could not believe it. Even now, I still cannot wrap my head around it. How can people not realize that over 6 million people were being burned, buried alive, poisoned, stretched, shot, tortured, forced into labor, gassed, etc. right next door to where they resided??

The only times that I have ever been filled with that much rage was when I watched a 2-hour 9/11 documentary while doing my hair. I watched as there were people jumping out of the fiery buildings of the Twin Towers. The most shivering part was when you heard the loud crash when the person fell. They showed how the person went through the ceilings of the buildings and through the ground due to the speed. When they hit the ground, there was nothing left of them but the blood and shattered body parts. I was so enraged at the fact that people had to make a choice of how they wanted to die. I watched different people’s perspectives on that day: the people in Times Square, the people miles away in apartment complexes, the people inside the Twin Towers, the firefighters, and I also read the messages sent from the airplanes before the crash. Another chill went through me when I learned that there were no survivors from all four planes that day.

Another time was when I watched a 2-hour documentary last semester for my Children’s Literature class. That one talked about the racism prevalent during the 50s-60s in America, and it showcased all the main civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Additionally, it showcased a man who was a homosexual during the time, and who was just as prevalent and active as the main two, but due to his sexuality he did not receive as much recognition. This was the first time that I was hearing about the fight for equal rights for same-sex marriage. I was soo surprised by this fact, because it was not until last summer in June did same-sex marriage become legal in all states. So their fight went on for just as long, if not longer, than the fight for equal rights of all races.

Over winter break, my mother and I watched the movie Selma, which was also another movie that stirred up so much anger in me. I had watched it over the summer by myself, and right after watching it, I was hit with so much anger… so much hatred… I did not know what to do with myself at that moment. After watching the movie, I researched more about what happened during the time, and I realized that all the events that were mentioned in the film were true. I thought they were just a way for the film director to increase the severity of the event. The movie started out with the 4 little girls being killed in the Birmingham bombing. I read about the result of that. They found out who the person was, and they put him on trial. They showed him pictures of the girls he had bombed, and he actually became sick and threw up in the courtroom. It was that reaction that made me realize that at the time, he may not have noticed them as children… and people. He dehumanized them.

Now, after doing this research, I have answered my long-standing question as to how people could mindlessly mass murder so many people at once without a single blink of the eye.

They dehumanize them. They call them “vermins” and “cockroaches” that need to be taken out. This is why these killings are not named “murders”, but “exterminations” because the murderers do not see them as human.

I then read about other genocides, and I learned about the genocide that happened in Cambodia during the 90’s, which brought up a new emotion out of me. This was a genocide that happened recently, one that killed over a million people, and apparently this is one that the United States knew about…

What?

You mean to tell me that people knew about this one, but no one wanted to help the people? The children? How could we be so heartless?

Something that gets me extremely emotional is the fact that people who were weak children, the old, mentally disabled, or ill were immediately killed without a second thought. Since they would slow down the movement of the extremists and they were seen as “no help”, they were immediately gone.

What really confused me for a while was looking at the different photos where Hitler is hugging children and laying out on the beach, I then remember that he was a normal human being… in fact he was a normal human being during his reign. Unfortunately, his view on humanity and a certain group of people was severely skewed. While doing my research for this paper, I learned that he was really good friends with a couple who decided to follow his orders. This family had 6 children. I looked at the picture, and those kids looked like the most innocent children on Earth. I just couldn’t believe the parents that they unfortunately had the chance of having.

When it was nearing the end of WWII and Germany was losing, Hitler committed suicide with his wife at the time (who he had married the day before. I personally think it was so he wouldn’t die alone.) and he killed his dog (which I still will never understand.). After that, this man who had a family, decided to poison all 6 of his kids with cyanide after hiring his dentist to inject all of them with a shot of morphine, making them fall unconscious. Afterwards, he and his wife went up to a garden, and committed suicide there.

It’s interesting to know that after these genocides, in many cases the people who performed these acts end up committing suicide. It is as if they realized what they had done. Were they possessed during the action? Were they in a fixed mindset that could not be broken unless taken out of the situation?

I think I am done talking about this topic. Anytime when I dwell on this subject for too long, my stomach goes into knots, my temperature begins to rise, my blood starts to boil, and I start to develop a hatred for a certain group of people (though this is temporary, but unfair to stereotype like that).

I am so passionate about this topic and injustice in general, I’ve always wondered if maybe I could continue studies in this topic here in college. I would love to take another anthropology class dealing with these topics(it also helps that my anthropology TA likes me ūüôā ).