“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.

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Figuras Tectas

Title is Latin for “hidden figures” šŸ˜‰

I just came from watching a screening of the movie,Ā 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 Ā 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?

Gut Feelings

Something in my gut told me to miss my Latin class today. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was the fact that it was 2am on the last day of break and I had not even touched my Latin stuff. I found out that I had to translate about 7 poems, but I had no idea how that was going to happen. I took little 90 minute-naps (because I read somewhere that it takes 90 minutes to finish a REM cycle), and somehow that kind of worked. I would wake up not feeling groggy and I felt like I could work. But then I would just go back to sleep after a little bit.

By 6:30am, I decided to wake up and finish the poems. It was around this time that I felt the need to just email my professor saying that I would be sick and miss class. I should’ve done it, I really should have.

But then I thought, “What if this was the one day that he choose a me and I would lose participation points?” Also, what if I needed to use that sick excuse for another day when I was really dying? So being the good student I am, I decided to go to class.

Well this will be very ironic coming from a student, but thisĀ was oneĀ of the few times in my college career that I absolutely regretted going to class.

So after Sociology, I walk over to my Latin class, which is technically in the same building. I sit and go over my notes once I reach the class room. I am a little nervous because there were so many poems to go over, but I knew that I had atleast looked over them.

So the rest of the class comes in, and we are all waiting for our teacher when suddenly some one tall old man comes in. He asked with an English accent, “Is this the Latin Catullus class?” We all nod, and he just comes in and sits down. He says that he is taking over the class for today. I thought to myself, “Wow, I really could have missed this class today.”

So he comes in, and he seems nice and everything. But he also seems very straight-forward. No wasting time and no beating around the bush.

So I was a little antsy, and I was hoping that he wouldn’t be like my professor and just choose people.

Of course he did.

And guess who he chose first…

Ugh.

So before he even chose me, he was already staring me down for whatever reason. Most likely it was because I was the only “melaninated” person in the room, which always received attention.

He was talking about the current poem that we were about to discuss, which we had talked about maybe a week ago. Unfortunately, I had not really focused on that poem because I thought we would move on, but instead that was the focus for half of the class.

My luck is just amazing.

While he was talking about it, he was talking about how controversial and sexual it was, and he used the word “Racy”. Right when he said that word, he stared at me. I stared right back at him with disbelief. Did that actually happen?Ā I even smirked a little bit.

I’m sure the class took the word just the way it was intended to be taken: sexual, lively, entertaining…

As for me, I took it differently.

Just the way he said it and the way he looked at me when he said it, I knew what he was getting at. I believe he meant to say that word in a way to pertain to race, and I was not having it.

I already felt like me and this guy probably would not get along.

And maybe he felt that too, because he quickly pointed to me (like actually pointed to me), and said “You, what is this poem talking about”. I was taken aback, but at the same time, I felt like I was expecting it, since he never once moved his eyes away from me except to look down at the poem for a second.

I looked at the poem and my mind went blank. I knew what the poem was about. I knew it was about this guy having a sexual desire for a girl, but everything in the middle was a little confusing for me. In the poem, I didn’t really catch on to the fact that he was forcing her to stay home for him.

Anyways, the point is, once he pointed to me and asked me to answer, my mind drew a huge question mark and I didn’t say anything. All I said was that I knew the main character and that was it. I didn’t want to feel dumb by saying it was sexual, even though it really was. Maybe I really didn’t know this poem as well as I had hoped.

Anyways, there was a silence for maybe 10 seconds, and then he chose someone else to answer. The person answered perfectly.

I kind of felt bad at the time, but I didn’t want to show it because I knew that almost every eye in that room was on me. There was always this girl in there who constantly stared at me every day in class, so I knew her eyes were on me.

What I really hated was the fact that it was as though I had solidified his idea of me. He probably just wanted to test how smart I really was. He wanted to see how much I knew. Once I didn’t say anything, it probably justified his assumptions, which really pissed me off.

I wanted to blame it on the lack of sleep, I wanted to blame it on the fact that I was giving him an attitude for the “racy” incident, I wanted to blame it on the fact that my break was not as relaxed as I had wanted it to be (due to a mentally-unstable roommate, who by the way moved out this break as well :D), I wanted to blame it on the fact that I was caught off guard. But honestly, I couldn’t really blame it on anyone or anything except myself.

I should have said something.

And the worst part of it was that I felt that my failure allowed others to feel more comfortable when talking. They probably thought that they weren’t as bad as me. He called on people to translate, and he called out a couple people on how bad their readings were, but even that was better than my response (or the lack of one) …

Also, I know that he will probably say something to my professor because he will definitely remember me. I mean come on, he can just say, “The ‘black girl’ in your class did not say anything when she was called upon” and my professor would know exactly who he was talking about. If it were anyone else, he wouldn’t have a name and the professor wouldn’t be able to pinpoint who it was. Ughhhh.

I can just tell that my professor will call on me next class. Hell, he might even make me translate everything for that day. Now, I really have to be on my A-game on Friday.

I hate how I feel like these problems come down to race. If I weren’t the only black girl in the room, IĀ highly doubt that this old man would have called on me.

The crazy thing is that, all problems aside, I really liked this guy. I liked how he taught the material. It was actually what I had expected to get out of my Latin class when I enrolled. I like how he broke everything down and made me see the poetry in a whole different way. We talked about this other poem about inviting this guy to dinner, but it was so cool how he made us see the invitation inside the poem. I also liked how he stressed thatĀ the poem at first glance is different from the hidden message. He MADE us see that hidden message and it was fun discovering it. I also enjoyed how he was open to most interpretations (I say most because there were some people who he said were just completely wrong), though he definitely showed that he had favorites.

There is this girl in my Latin class who just does the most all the time. She always has this super intricate evaluation of the situation int he poem that ends up being correct, but no one would have probably guessed unless they studied Catullus for atleast 10 years. She just seemed like such an expert. It was as if she lived and breathed this stuff.

And this probably has nothing to do with it, but I found it interesting that she was probably the least melaninated person in the room. As in, if there was a spectrum for the amount of melanin each person has in the room, I would be at on e extreme and she would be at the other. Her skin was so pale and her hair was so blonde. It was as if she had never been under the sun before.

But I am pretty sure it was the fact that she knew a crap-ton about Catullus.

So she always had something to say in class, and when she said something today, the guy just really liked it and said that she was spot-on. So he asked for her name, which he never did to anyone else in the class. And after asking for her name, he said that he probably should not have asked for names, and for whatever reason, he looked at me again when he said this. What was that suppose to mean? That was the second time during the entire class that he made a remark and looked at me while saying it. Even earlier in the class, after I had not answered him, he did not make eye contact with me during the rest of class (even though I was making very strong eye contact with him. I probably was making his nervous, because he definitely stumbled through his words at the beginning of class. Maybe he was just nervous in general), up until he made this remark.

I was so surprised, yet not surprised about this guy. This may not have been the first time that I had been in a class where I was the only black person in there, but I felt very out of place in this class specifically. I didn’t talk to anyone in there even on a regular day, even though I shared a class with a few of them the semester before (maybe it will dent their appearance and their “status” to all other peopleĀ in the class), so I get to class, I don’t say anything, and I am one of the first to leave. I’m only there to pass the class and get my credit for graduation. I just want to become a doctor ;(

I really do enjoy Latin, but I don’t like the atmosphere in this class.

I really enjoyed the class today, but I am truly sorry to say that I feel like I would have enjoyed it better if I didn’t have melanin in my skin.