Collective Identity

QUESTION:

Do you think different groups of people are treated differently? If so, why? If not, why not?

I definitely think different groups of people are treated differently. This is mostly because of stereotyping amongst group/ groups. For example, I think boys are more likely to get into trouble than girls because they are seen as mischievous, naughty, and/ or rude.

This can be proved by study’s  shown on a test done by 238 pupils aged 4- 10, were tested by being asked which comments are mostly said between both genders. The comments were ” this child is really clever” and “this child is always finishing their work”and the kids picked the females more than the male. Nick Collins from the telegraph found out that some boys lose their confidence and motivation to do school work in which the opposite gender might feel pressured to try her best and pass due to her high expectations. That is why boys might be seen as less intelligent, naughty, and mischievous among the subject of education.

However, even though males might be seen as less intellectual than the female why is it that the biggest roles are handed more towards men rather than women? This can be an example of different groups being treated differently. Around the world, there are different cultures/ traditions that suppress  the woman’s capability of becoming a president, lawyer, scientist and other important jobs. Instead they are seen as maids and nanny’s, so their opportunity to reach their goal of a certain profession is eliminated from them. This creates a mindset that seeing a woman as a leader can be unusual.

Another example of groups being treated differently from others is racism. Racism is the act of treating a specific race with violence and/ or hatred due to the race’s collective identity  which tends to form stereotyping towards the race . There are countless stories of people being denied privileges due to their race. This statement can be proven because their was an experiment done called the Jose vs Joe experiment in which a man named Jose writes applications to company’s under the name Jose. Sadly, he was let down from the jobs. So one day he decides to remove the s from his name which switched to Joe, and he got offered jobs. The only thing he had changed to was remove a letter from his name and that’s when company’s gave him jobs.

The reason for this experiment was to prove that people are always judging each other based of their names. Jose is not a very common name you would here in the United States, so the company might see the person as different or un-trustable. Usually they can compare their names to stories they’ve heard or people they have heard of. This gives the person an either false or true idea of the person.

 

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Romeo And Juliet Diary Entries-Major Characters

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ACT 1: 

Juliet

3/20/1300:

Dear Diary,

Today mom asked me a question I haven’t really thought about. Marriage. And she’s claiming some man that goes by the name of Paris is the right man for me. I don’t know much about Paris, except that he is held at a high esteem around Verona, mother said, but I don’t like anything else about him. She says Verona’s summer hasn’t seen such a pretty flower, so I’m guessing he’s beautiful. But to be honest, I don’t care much for marriage, but because mother wants me to start weighing out my options at tonight’s feast, I guess I’ll start looking for a man that catches my eye, but I’m only looking for Paris at this feast or he’ll come around to meet me. I hope he’s a nice guy, you know, easy to talk to. But, people like him, rich, handsome, and acknowledged, are such stuck-ups. They won’t stop talking about their money and accomplishments. I’m really hoping Paris isn’t like that. I guess I’ll have to cross my fingers and pray he’s what mom’s claiming he is.

Juliet

3/20/1300:

Dear Diary,

We arrived at the feast, but there wasn’t anyone that struck my eye at first. It seemed like every other . Then this boy, his eyes like jade stones and his skin soft like silk approached me. He spoke of the kiss removing his sin so, we kissed, twice. He was everything I’ve ever wanted. I never really cared for marriage until that point with that boy. But then mom called to me and before I knew it, the feast was over. I didn’t seem to notice people leaving the dining hall until Nurse called onto me. I was too busy noticing this boy, I couldn’t stop thinking about him, but finding out who he was killed me more. A Montague. The enemy. I can’t believe I loved the enemy. It seems as though he’s not meant for me. I feel conflicted. Romeo, the name of this boy, was not like any other boy I have ever met. It felt like he loved me and I loved him, but I don’t think we will ever meet again. A Montague shouldn’t ask for my hand in marriage, mom and dad wouldn’t approve. Whenever a Montague and a Capulet meet, it never ends well. It brings me to anger thinking that someone I loved was my greatest enemy. Maybe there will be another man that will replace him. I guess we are not meant for each other, but I don’t know if I’ll ever forget Romeo.

ACT 2: 

Juliet

April 21, 1300

Dear Diary,

  I met Romeo again and I think our love is meant to be. I was standing by the balcony on a quiet night looking off to the clear night sky. The balcony must be my favorite part of the house. When mom and nurse are around, they go on and on about marriage, but the balcony is where I can have time for myself before Nurse calls me in. Anyways, as I was looking off, Romeo startled me. He was hidden within the bushes and I couldn’t make up much of his face, just a slight silhouette. I hope he wasn’t down there too long. I just wish Romeo and I could get married without all the family conflict. To me, it’s stupid. Why does a person’s name determine their worth and personality? It’s all just a name! I asked Romeo if we could get married. I just want to be with him forever. I no longer want him hiding beneath the bushes just to talk to me. I want him to walk into the front door and sweep me off my feet, just like the first time we met. I want Romeo and I to love publicly like all the other couples in Verona do.

,Juliet

 

Juliet

April 21, 1300

Dear Diary,

I’m hoping our families will be accepting of our love.

There is no one in Verona that could make me as happy as Romeo. His curly brown hair, starry eyes, silky skin and rosey lips is all I can think about. Being further away from him makes me want to meet him more. I’m praying to God that when we get married, our families will put aside the conflict and let us be together. This family conflict has been dragging on for way to long and I have a feeling that us being together will bring everyone together.

,Juliet

ACT 3: 

Juliet

Dear Diary,

Today was nothing but a  clutter of events.

I sat in my cell impatiently waiting for Romeo to arrive so we could express our love for each other in various ways. After not being able to touch one another since the feast, I dreamed of what it would be like to be locked in Romeo’s arms as we spent the night with each other. I prayed he would get to my chamber as soon as possible, but now knowing the heavy news that would come with him, I wished Nurse would never give me an update on Romeo. I was so excited to finally see him, but Nurse was acting a little off. When she blurted out “He’s dead! He’s dead!” I couldn’t believe what she was saying. “How could that be?” I thought. Everything was going as planned and my dear Romeo died? I felt as if the God above was punishing me, but for what? For being too addicted to Romeo’s love? No that couldn’t be. I wanted to lay with Romeo so our souls could do what they couldn’t hear on earth. To hold each other and never let go. Then Nurse told me Romeo killed Tybalt, and my heart sunk to my stomach. Unfortunately, I thought of Romeo disguised as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but I quickly came to realize that I shouldn’t speak any wrong of my husband. But why? What could Romeo kill Tybalt for? Why the two people I cherish, how could that be? It has to do with the family rival right? I feel nothing but anger and sadness. I can’t decide what to feel as I patiently wait for Romeo to come. He’ll be banished from the lands of Verona. He’ll be gone before I know it and I’ll never get to hold my husband like I should’ve. All because of this stupid family feud; I feel as though our love really is not meant to be.

Signing off,
Juliet

ACT 4:

Juliet

April 25, 1300


Dear Diary,

When you feel troubled, always consult The Friar Laurence.

He’s devised a plan that might get me out of the sticky situation, Paris marrying me that is. But I’m afraid. He says this potion will put me to sleep, but what if it doesn’t work? What if the potion is poison? I’ll really die and the pain will be too unbearable. So unbearable I have dagger if all things go wrong so I feel no pain.  But I have my trust in the Friar that it will go as planned, although lately, things haven’t been going as they should. I’m hoping I will get to meet Romeo once I awake, but there’s something telling me this won’t follow through. 

Juliet,
Signing off

Juliet

April 25, 1300
Dear Diary,

The wedding preparations are still going on through the night. I’m starting to get really nervous knowing the time is almost coming, but I have to stay faithful that the idea will go as planned and hopefully, I will soon get to meet Romeo. As mother has always said, stay hopeful and confident and everything will fall into place. Knowing that I will get to meet Romeo in a couple days is the only thing pushing me to do this.

,Juliet

Romeo and Juliet: Diary Entries for Minor Character

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Benvolio

April the 23rd, 1300

Dear Diary,

It was called onto my attention today by Montague and Lady Montague that Romeo was locking himself up in his room. I was wondering what made him so sad. He told me about some girl he loved that didn’t love him. He didn’t even know her name. To be fair, I did feel bad for Romeo. He really seemed to love the girl. He wasn’t the way he usually is and that worried me. I tried and tried explaining to Romeo that there are other girls out there that will notice him, but this girl had him hypnotized. He just couldn’t seem to let go. What a hopeless romantic.  I had a plan, but Romeo wasn’t in for it. There would be feast that night and apparently, there were pretty girls their too. Then I thought, we should attend the feast and maybe Romeo will fall in love with another girl and she will love him too. That other girl he had been weeping about would be far past him. But he honestly didn’t seem too excited to attend the feast. I thought the risk of attending a feast would be worth it.

We spent the rest of the day getting ready for the feast. Once we arrived, Romeo didn’t change his mind since that morning. He didn’t want to dance or talk to another girl hoping to find another that would replace the one that broke his heart. Instead, he wanted to continue feeling broken over some stranger. I was hoping, out of luck, his eyes would meet another by mistake and then he would be off to pursue another girl. Before the feast, Romeo spoke of a dream he had where it ended in his death. I really did believe that the feast would help him meet someone else that wouldn’t leave him depressed and dreaming of his own death. I pray that Romeo met another girl that loves him the way he loves her. No longer will he look himself up in his chamber sobbing and dreaming of death. I wish that Romeo finds a girl that will leave him hopeful and back to his normal self.

 

Friar Lawrence

April 24, 1300

Dear Diary,

I believe Romeo and Juliet are rushing into this too fast.

I fear that this may all end suddenly if they keep moving at this pace. I tend to my garden of herbs and shrubs, because it relieves me from all the stress. The borages and cloves are thriving during this time of the year, but the horehounds seem to be drying out.

Romeo is so impulsive. At first, I thought his depression was all caused by Rosaline. He’d lock himself in his chamber for days and spent his afternoons under trees dreaming of Rosaline. But now it’s Juliet. Except, he wants to marry her. These types of love stories never end well. I’m hoping that Juliet and Romeo bring the two families together to resolve the ongoing conflict between both families.

,Lawrence

 

Nurse

April the 25th, 1300 


Dear Diary,

Today has been a busy day like no other.


Tybalt has passed on and his blood is all over Romeo’s hands. He’ll be banished from Verona. Telling Juliet was hard enough for her sobs and wails send shivers down my back. I want Juliet to be happy, so I must do whatever is needed in order to reunite her and Romeo. Oh but their love is tougher than steel. They’re family feud won’t stop them from loving each other. But Romeo, what a mess. For killing a man? He’s truly lied to Juliet about who he really is. Men are like that. They naturally lie and fool those around them for the sake of it. That’s why I could never love one for their beauty conceals their fraudulence. But Juliet doesn’t think so. She’s too in love with her cousin’s killer that she’s willing to forget of it and meet him again. I guess that’s young love. They’re both too naive. Too willing for each other and what holds them most apart is their family’s conflict. Those are the walls and spiked fences that keeps them from loving each other. But I must go and find a solution to Juliet’s pain, which is always Romeo.

,Till next time

 

 

Friar Laurence

April the 26th 1300

 

Dear Diary,


Romeo and Juliet are gone.
Seeing them lifeless and cold sends shivers down my back. I fear that this is all my fault.  I tolerated and allowed this too gone and thinking of how I supported it makes me sick. I walked them too their doom without knowing just how dangerous it could’ve gotten. They were too young and they didn’t know any better. I told Romeo that things rushed end in disaster, but he was too persistent. Their love is like no other I have seen in my days. Now that their souls are bared by the angles I heaven, I wish for this family conflict to end so this may never occur again. So no lovers chose death over life in order to be with each other.

,The Friar Laurence

 

 


Art Instillation

 

Patricia Kinuthia

Amber Sunsets and Cassette Tapes, 2018

Kitenge fabric, Acrylic Paint, styrofoam board, Synthetic hair, faux leather

On road trips with my family, we cherished the cd albums that held all kinds of songs from different genres and countries. Everywhere we went, we collected music. Each song reminds us of a different memory. The piece all together simulates the road trip specifically from Johannesburg, South Africa to Maputo, Mozambique. The music notes coming out of the car represent the music we listened to on our way to Mozambique. I also used certain materials to hint the setting like the kitenge fabric, beads, braids, and a zebra strap.

 

 

                                                   The Things I’ve Carried

             Before Kenya was Mozambique and before that was South Africa. All our furniture and belongings were stowed on a large ship that docked our items in the Mombasa port. And from South Africa to Mozambique, it was a truck  and our BMW. We horded every single item. Every carving and plate we stowed in a box stuffed with bubble wrap and styrofoam. In a couple boxes was where we kept our cassettes and CD’s. No matter the genre, we somehow managed to close the box flaps, add a fragile sticker, and seal it shut till we moved to our next destination. And when we got our boxes, the shelf that held our cassettes and CD’s was placed in the corner of our living room, right by the bronze curtains that let the yellow sun seep through during golden hours. Dad would arrange all the CD’s and cassettes, collecting more to listen to. There was John Legend, Alicia Keys, unknown African bands, Westlife, and Kenny Rogers. Then stowed under our TV were cd albums loaded with all kinds of movies and songs. There were so many, like critters they made their way around the house. Under beds, in the kitchen, inside the couch and leather bean bags. When I was too bored of the telly and colouring books, I looked for the cassettes and messed with the tape. Mom warned me not to do it and hid them away from me.

 

           When we road tripped from South Africa to Mozambique in our navy blue BMW, we carried our CD albums in the dashboard compartment. Looking out the tinted window with a coloring book and crayons in my hands, I watched the rust-like amber mountains lock us along with the lengthy Baobab trees, thorny shrubs, and the pale honey sand that hit our car, sounding like light rain. Country songs by Tom Jones played in the background filling the absence in the car. And when the track felt boring or repetitive, I pleaded for Alicia Keys and attempted to sing the entire song slurping my words and screaming when the high notes hit during the chorus. Vivian asked to change the song, but mom and dad kept it on telling her “she is just a child, let her sing for a while.”

 

              Dad stopped the car to take pictures of the sun taking its last breath before sinking into the cloud-full sky. Eventually when it was pitch black, we arrived at the cottages where we would stay before leaving back to South Africa. The stars were sprinkled along the night sky and the heavy moon illuminated the bedroom walls and tiles. The crickets was all you could here along with the geckos hidden outside the window. Solitude and silence swept the neighbourhood. In the cottages for the next few weeks, we documented the heat and humidity of Mozambique. The fishing trips we took down at the beach barely coming back with any fish and the mornings when we were too stubborn to get out of bed. We escaped the cottage at night to walk the cobblestone paths planted all around the neighbourhood. Dad was holding tiny Wanjiru in his arms while everyone else paid attention to her giggles and laughs. They watched and adored her as I tagged along trying to get my turn of attention. These photographs we took on that trip we arranged in the pink album and the cds we collected, we lost among the others.

 

Witty Jokes on Monday Mornings and the Little Momentos She Leaves Around.

              Her crimson colored glasses sit on her sharp nose hiding her blue-green eyes, the silver earrings dangle under her ears like wind chimes clicking and clacking. She neatly wraps her azure scarf around her thin neck veiling the golden necklace with a diamond pendant and at times, she wears her small golden hooped earrings with her silver ring.

             She has a marble white jewelry box sitting by her vanity in her room with bronze details engraved into it. Inside the box is a creamy velvet fabric that keeps all her rings and earrings from tangling. There are rows where her rings are placed and holes where her earrings neatly hang. She never lets  a ring or necklace fall out of its place and before going to work, she glances in the mirror looking to see if her earrings look good with the rest of her outfit.

                As students walk into the class, she looks over at the door with a light smile on her face catching the faces of those who say hi. She greets students as they walk in with her delicate voice that breaks at times. As the room gets louder sounding like buzzes and hums, she heads to her desk where she reaches for the warm up sheets. A string of small glass beads is wrapped around her wrists that she fidgets with. She had gone to the Guna tribe during the beginning of the year when it was meant to be sunny, but the clouds were heavier around the time. She took a boat to the paradise of San Blas, the hundreds of islands sprinkled in the Caribbean ocean. She travelled high up the mountains and valleys to the dock where she would take a boat. She didn’t carry much, just what was necessary in her duffel bag. She wanted to enjoy getting away from Panama City’s traffic and boisterous noise that at times felt aggravating. She wanted to escape to the crystal clear ocean and lengthy palm trees. The small boat maneuvered by the indigenous tribe to the islands, smacked the prussian blue sea pouring water into the boat. She held onto the side, hoping not to fly up her seat because of the strong currents. Her clothes and loosely curled hair, was drenched in salt water. When she got to the island, she watched as the water slowly became a crystal blue. Her soaked life jacket and clothes didn’t seem like a bother anymore. She saw the white sand like flour and the huts silently sitting on the small island. She would spend her first day snorkeling the clear ocean and sitting by the hammock tied to palm trees, watching the sunset as she read her favorite novel. On the third day, she visited Isla Perro to see the sunken ship just a few miles off the shore. She took her snorkeling set with her and enjoyed the exotic corals and colorful fish  circling the rusted ship. And on the fourth day, she went to Isla Piscina, an island that looked like it was engulfed by the translucent sea. The tour guide showed her the orange starfish that hid under the pearly white sand. She took her waterproof camera and snapped a few pictures holding the starfish in her hands. Then the day before she left, she admired the Guna women and their intricate jewelry all around their arms and legs. Their mola tops and skirts with palm tree designs and floral patterns. She paid five for a bracelet and watched as one of the tribe women wrapped it onto her wrist. She thought the mola’s would be great wall art for her house she just moved into so she bought two. After coming back to the mainland, she kept these momentos around her. She fidgeted with the glass bead bracelet when the her class got rowdy or when she was set up with a big task.

           “Good morning class!” she says handing out the warm-up sheets. “Let’s start off with a warm-up today.” When the warm up sheets are passed around, she works with the smart board trying to turn it on. Then she moves onto her projection camera that at times, glitches and refuses to comply. “This is the part where I should mention one of my jokes!” she says laughing. The students look towards each other mumbling and snickering. “Lets see… which one did I already mention. Do you know the joke about the magician?” But before she’s about to mention one of her witty jokes, the smart board turns on. “Maybe next time” she says heading to the blue metal cabinet by her desk to get a pencil for a student. On the left side of her cabinet, she printed and taped photos of her family. There was a family portrait of her daughters in their graduation gowns. There was a picture of her family in the snow in winter jackets  piled on top each other and one during Christmas in front of the Christmas decor by the fireplace.

            She preferred the tropics over the snow, but her family was always an exception. Christmas was her favorite. It was when she could decorate her house with garlands and fairy lights. With Christmas socks filled to the brim with all kinds of goodies hung by the fireside. She missed the Christmas tree decorated with do-it-yourself ornaments and the ones she collected every year. She loved the smell of zesty oranges and bitter cloves, spending Christmas eve watching old Christmas classic movies with her family is what she treasured and Christmas morning was all the better opening Christmas presents under the lit up tree. She would spend the rest of the day outside in the frosty snow attempting to build a  snowman. They sledged down a hill in their backyard and ran in for hot cocoa with marshmallows when it was getting cold.

          Her crimson glasses sit on her sharp nose veiling her blue-green eyes. Her silver earrings like wind chimes, twinkle and click while her azure scarf delicately cloaks her thin neck hiding her golden chain and diamond charm. With her delicate voice, that at times breaks, she greets every student that walks in. Her Guna bracelet, wrapped around her wrist, is a memento of the paradise of San Blas and the pictures taped by her cabinet remind her of the few special moments with her family.

 

 

Mrs. Davis

I Miss What I Left Under the Mozambican Sun

 

“But mom I don’t wanna go,” I said latching on to her arm.

“Don’t worry Wambui the teacher will be here to help you,”  mom said as she pulled my arms away, but I still held on tight. It was my first day of primary school at an all girls Catholic School. Before classes begun, I took an interview. When I got accepted, mom took me to the salon and made me get thin twisted cornrows that were tight. The uniform was a blue pleated dress that went below my knees and the sweaters were thick and maroon. I couldn’t do cartwheels in a dress or handstands. “No stockings, no sneakers, no necklaces or rings. Don’t forget you can’t wear headbands that aren’t blue or red. You can’t have less than ten cornrows with intricate designs. That’ll get you to the principal’s office,” I said after going over just a split of the dress code.

                    As we drove into the towering black gate and strong brick walls, I noticed the church sitting right behind the class halls. Nuns walked in and out of campus in a scurry swiftly brushing by people.  Students got out of their cars, waving to their parents as they headed to class. The Teachers hissed and clicked at the students who were brave enough to slam their car doors running off to class and like a factory, cars slowed down, stopped and slowly drove out dropping off their kids. It was silent and all you could here were trees brushing up against the brick walls with no space to freely move like the ones outside the brick wall. This was nothing like school mornings in Mozambique. Nothing like the buses that rushed into the school compound with kids bursting out of the door laughing and screaming. Nothing like the teachers welcoming students with their kind smiles. It was all too quiet. And in the morning it was cold. So cold it coated the windows with frost. Outside the main entrance of the school, a Mother Theresa statue sat at the top of the staircase. Her headscarf was draped down to her waist and she held her hands together as she looked up to the sky in prayer. As I walked into the classroom, I clung on to mom watching everyone run towards each other to talk about their christmas break, but the new students sat at their desks anxiously waiting  for the class to begin. “Do I have to mom?” I said as she sat me down at my desk. But mom was too busy trying to get the teachers attention. The teacher wrote her name on the chalkboard as she talked to other parents.

“Mom please” I said as tears ran down my flushed cheeks.

“You’re going to be okay” she uttered as she rubbed my back. But I wasn’t okay. I was scared. Scared of starting somewhere new. Scared know one would like me.  Scared I wouldn’t make friends. But maybe if I kept mom a little longer, she would give up and let me go home with her. And maybe just like when we were in Mozambique, she would drive to the nearest convenience store and let me pick up my favorite snacks . We would drive home and she would let me sit at the TV for a while. But there was no point.

The teacher walked up to us with a smile on her face.

“ Hi, I am Mrs. Mwai” she said as she reached out her arm to greet mom. She was tall and skinny and wore a grey blouse and skirt that went down to her ankles. She stood up straight and her hair was slicked back into a bun. Ms. Mwai kneeled down to my height trying to get something out of me.

“And what’s your name?” she said

“Wambui.” I said sniffling my nose

“What’s wrong?” She said as her skinny hand brushed my shoulder. “She’s just scared,” mom said still hovering over me.  Mrs. Mwai smiled and patted my back. I couldn’t stop thinking of Mozambique. The humidity and scorching sun. The crowded beaches and fresh coconut water that came straight from the palm tree. I missed going over to Zoe’s house after school and playing with her Littlest Pet Shop collection and Polly Pockets while Disney channel blasted in the background. I missed playtime every Friday at school. We would compete to see who could climb the jungle jim the fastest and the winner owned the swing till the very end of school. Now I was stuck here. Stuck between brick walls and a dusty chalkboard that stuffed my nose and mom was ready to go. She kissed my cheek gently, said goodbye. I could only hold on so tight.

               When the class begun, the teacher started talking, Lens Changing:but I was to busy staring out the window. The class felt like it was buried under shrubs and tamed trees. You could only see so little of life outside the school walls and green leaves hanging from the vines. The sound of the bell brought me back to the class. Students quickly got up to leave but, Ms. Mwai stood at the door.

              “Everyone stop running and make a single line,” she barked as she crossed her arms and  stood by the door waiting as her cold eyes pierced at students who were not paying attention. When she opened the door to let us out, a river of students filled the corridor. We were finally let out when the hallway was clear.

              Breaktime wasn’t any better. I didn’t pack any snack so I just sat on the bench plucking leaves from the bush. There were no swings, slides, or jungle jim’s. Not even a sand pit. As I walked outside, the sun beat down on my face and my leather shoes burned my feet. Just a field with well-kept trees, bushes and wooden benches. Teachers monitoring pulled students who were stubborn into the school buildings and warned others to be careful. Some girls sat in a circle and snacked on knick knacks and ribena as they whispered to each other and others played hand games and sang.

             From the corner of my eye, I noticed a girl walking over to me. She sat on the bench and smiled over at me but I was to shy. “Hi I am Amy” she said. I looked over at her and noticed her lit up face. Her eyes hid behind her cheeks when she smiled and her nose crinkled. “I’m Wambui” I said swallowing my words. She offered me some biscuits. Eventually, I begun to open up to her. She was intrigued by my life in Mozambique and my small memories of South Africa, but we couldn’t talk to long because the bell ran for mass. All the other students like a flood, ran to the line, where the teachers waited for them organize themselves.

             We walked quietly to the church and students who would yell got pulled to the side and scolded. Life wasn’t like this back in Mozambique. Everything here was so structured and rigid. When we sat down on the wooden aisle, the pianist begun playing kikuyu gospel hymns. The windows of the church were stained with pictures of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection. But the open windows peered out to the high school classrooms where you could see girls graciously walked to their classes.

             When the service begun, we shared books with gospel songs and sang till our throats were dry. We sang kikuyu songs, swahili ones, and latin ones too. Other girls got distracted and begun giggling during mass. They were sent out of the church and didn’t come back. We were told to stand up, then sit, than stand over and over again until we couldn’t feel our feet anymore. Our chunky leather shoes and thick socks weighed us down.

             I had joined the poem club after Ms. Mwai said I had something to offer because of my accent. I went in for rehearsals with Amy in the music halls after lunch and sometimes during classes. Ms. Kamau, who taught us the poem, said whoever was a minute late would be dropped from the club. This would be my 1st competition and we would be competing against many other private and public schools. We stood in a semi-circle looking forward towards the music teacher.

“None of you are even smiling,” Ms. Kamau said

“You’re telling a poem about how much you love your school and you don’t even look happy,” she said clicking at us again. She ordered everyone to smile and went around slapping those who didn’t smile enough. I was one of them. Amy looked over towards me forcing her best smile. That day I was too scared to tell mom what had happened, but I feared going to school the next day.

              For the next years of school in Loretto, our school was held at a high standard. We were expected to be “perfect” catholic girls the day we walked the halls of this school. Wherever we went, people stared at us in awe because good people came out of our schools like Wangari Maathai the environmentalist who fought to keep Kenya’s trees alive and Caroline Mutoko the famous radio host who gained a massive following after speaking on societal taboos.

             The last day of school before leaving to Panama, I looked over my back to the school as the black gates closed remembering my bitter-sweet relationship with Loretto.

No More Nappy Hair!

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              “Okay it’s my turn!” Vivian would say bursting from behind the tree.  She was always outside. Lucky for her, her hair never got in the way. At school, she would chase her friends around the the playground. She would nudge and coil her straight black hair around her fingers as she said goodbye to her friends. At sleepovers, her friends and her sat in her room in a circle whispering and snickering at each other. They put on makeup and did each other’s hair. When I thought it was okay, I joined in for a while, but when time came to gossip, she would chase me out of the room and slam the door behind my back. But eventually, the weather, sleepovers, and cotton pillows washed out the magical thick pink paste that made her hair straight. It became coarse and brittle and those pesky little nappy roots grew back. So when the time came, mom would drive to the nearest shop and buy the colourful box that made her hair straight again. I would eagerly watch as mom brought the box to the table. She mixed the creamy white paste and pink liquid.

“Don’t get to close,” she would say.

“And if I do?”

“It will burn you and while you’re at it open the windows.”

I dashed to the windows and did so. Mom would run a rat tail comb down Vivian’s hair and split her hair into individual parts. She brushed the pink paste into Vivian’s hair and wrapped it in a plastic bag.

Tell me when it starts to burn,” mom told Vivian as she cleaned up the mess.

“Mom, when can I do it?” I said circling her

“Not now Wambui you’re too young”

“But I can get it now?”  

“Not now. Later okay?”

              But I knew later meant never. I knew in the morning  before school, I would still have to comb out my nappy hair and tie them into individual knots. I knew on Sundays if I were lucky, mom would bring out the hot comb and maybe if it was straight enough, I would be like the other girls at church. But not straight and long enough like Vivians. Not good enough.

            Eventually, Vivian complained about the burning and raced to wash it off. And when she was done, it was nice and straight just like before. But she never listened to moms orders.  “You’re hair is not like everybody else’s.” mom would tell Vivian. “You can’t do what they can. It’s going to fall off” she warned. But Vivian never listened. She swam with no swimming cap, she slept without braiding her hair into neat matutas and bickered when mom warned her again and again. Since the beginning of time, it’s almost like black girls have had it hard with accepting every aspect of themselves.  Especially our hair. We’ve all strived to look eurocentric at least one time in our lives. Relaxers and skin bleachers have been marketed to us so we can fit into society’s mold of “beautiful.” We straighten our hair, bleach our skin and adjust our accents just so we can feel accepted. Occasionally, we are told that our hairstyles aren’t professional or they are distracting in a school setting. You see, our environment doesn’t build girls like us to be wonderful and proud women. We aren’t taught to be proud of our heritage, the colour of our skin, or our hair. We are instead told the lie that the more afrocentric features we have, the uglier we are. And this lie spreads throughout different black communities around the world like a virus.

But It was under the Panamanian sun. The thick air that filled my lungs and the unwieldy clouds that brought rain, under this sun was when mom finally said yes.

“When I go to the Rey, I’ll pick up the box” she said closing the book she never put down.

Too young to know any better, and too thrilled to contain my excitement, I ran down the hallway to the room I shared with my little sister, Wanjiru. I hopped on the bed startling her a little. I told her everything.

“ It’s gonna be long and straight.”

“Really?” she said smirking

“Yeah and I can comb it easily and I won’t have to put them in matutas every night before bed”  

                   Wanjiru came 3 years after me. Her hair bronze in the sunlight, was curlier than mine. She was short and plump and when she smiled, her eyes disappeared under her caramel fat cheeks. Moms excuse for every wrong things she did was “she is young Wambui, you were like this once.” Wanjiru was always the center of attention. After dinner, we would race to the living room. Out of all the cassettes and CD’s, we picked Alicia Keys “As I Am”. Wanjiru would pick the red flashlight on the table and pretend it was a microphone. Everyone’s attention would immediately divert to her and dad’s camera would instantly turn on. I patiently waited for my turn sitting right by her. She mumbled and swallowed her words, but know one minded. When the song was eventually over, mom, dad, and Vivian cheered and her eyes immediately disappeared behind her cheeks. I grabbed for the red flashlight thinking it was my turn, but Wanjiru’s show just begun. She whined and bickered. “Wambui, go up stairs and get the other flashlight” mom said pushing me away. Being Vivian and I were 6 years apart, we never related to anything so I somehow found a way to get over Wanjiru’s brattiness and become close to her. Whatever she did, I did. On our birthday, mom and dad would buy both of us presents so one of us wouldn’t feel left out. And whenever I got something she didn’t get, we would find a way to share it.

                   I sat in moms and dads bathroom on the stool. Mom opened the small window peering over the dullness of Guayaba street and our untamed backyard. Guayaba Street was once owned by the zonians. They were the Americans that once worked in the canal. Before they left, these streets were considered a high class neighborhood. I imagined the roads during their times as lively. Old Corvettes and Cadillacs must’ve been parked in the driveway. Children would freely run around the neighborhood riding their bikes and playing hide-and-seek at the park and on the 4th of July, the neighborhood must have gathered together to fill a backyard with fireworks and a barbecue just like the movies. During those times, black girls must’ve never felt love for their nappy hair. Being black people were being heavily discriminated against, their environment surely never cared to remind their black kids that they were amazing. Their hair bleached and straightened just to get a job or  fit in. They must’ve done whatever they had to do to fit in. Sooner or later the zonians, jobs were taken from them and they forced out of Panama’s paradise lifestyle. The neighbourhood was abandoned. Trees grew onto power lines and the humidity of Panama coated the painted houses with moss. It stayed that way until people bought out the entire neighbourhood.

                 The bathroom was small and congested. I knew mom would worry that  the ammonium would get to us and we would begin to get light headed. The tiles on the wall were baby blue. The lights would flicker and sometimes turn off, but I was too thrilled to notice any flaw of the bathroom. The Just for Me box sat on my moms dresser. She put a newspaper under the container and begun mixing the creamy pink paste that made my hair straight. The smell of ammonium among the thick breeze burned my eyes but I didn’t mind.

She wrapped a towel around me and begun parting my hair with the rat tail comb.

“it is going to burn a little” she uttered as she got the paste close to my hair. The paste was cold and tingly as it touched my scalp. As mom brushed it into my hair, the tingling slowly begun to burn. I sat at the chair staring at myself from the mirror of the vanity picturing myself with long black hair. Just imagining how great I’m going to look the next day of school. Like everyone else.

“Mom, when am I going to get my hair done like that?” Wanjiru said sitting on the edge of the bed. Wanjiru’s hair was wilder and never listened. Deep conditioners and leave ins never worked but it was always longer when mom straightened it.

Mom too tired and too hard at work said “When you’re older”

Kids at school made fun of Wanjiru’s hair. Mom spent the entire day doing bantu knots on her hair. When she was done, Wanjiru stared into the mirror happy  about how her hair turned out. The next day at school, she couldn’t get enough of the kids poking at her hair and making fun of it. She pleaded mom to take it out, but mom said no.

Her face wasn’t as bright anymore. She stared at the floor and played with the rug.

“Don’t worry Shiru, I had to wait a little too.” I said smiling at her

“Yeah but I want my hair straight like that now.”

“Some other time.” mom barked trying to end the whining.

She wrapped my hair in clingfoil warning me to let her know when it starts burning. Wanjiru and I sat together by the ipad taking turns on Candy Crush. She took her turn and I took mine, but the burning just got worse.

“It’s starting to hurt a little” I said poking at the clingfoil. Mom pushed my hand out of the way warning me that it would burn.

We rushed to the sink of her bathroom and carefully washed it out.

“Close your eyes until I tell you to open,” mom said running her hands through my hair. Eventually, the paste washed out and my hair was straight. No nappy hair in the mornings to tend to. It would be easy, and I would look prettier. When mom blow dried my hair, I fidgeted, squealed, and curled when the heat burned my scalp. “Pole sana.” she said rubbing my burned scalp. When she finished, she grabbed the TCB herbal oil and rubbed it into my scalp. From the mirror, I could see my straight hair coming to life. I could see my new locks of hair. Silky, flat, and black.  When the blow drying was over, mom handed me the afro comb.  

“It’s so soft.” Wanjiru said running her fingers through my new hair.

“Can I comb it? Please?” she said reaching her hand out for the comb.  

             I sat on the lid of toilet seat swinging my legs back and forth adoring my new hair. Wanjiru combed my hair for what felt like hours but I didn’t mind. She parted my hair and combed longer. Looking into the mirror, I noticed how silky it was. Not like Vivians, but eventually it would be. It didn’t touch my shoulders like I thought it would, but it someday it  would. Maybe the paste needed more time.

               The next morning, everything felt easier and mom and I wouldn’t have to spend what felt like hours forcing my coarse hair into a bun. I just combed my silky straight hair into a ponytail and headed down for breakfast. At school, no one seemed to care. No one yanked or pulled on my hair like the 1st couple days of school and I wouldn’t have to sit down to explain why my hair is the way it is and how I do it. I was just like everyone else. And when I came home, mom wouldn’t have to again force my hair into matutas before I slept. Going out to play was even better. No more having to limit my fun because I would have to deal with my hair after. I just combed it went on with my day. But it was the 1st day of washing my hair after relaxing, I realized it was not as easy as I thought it was.  “Have you been braiding your hair before you sleep?” Mom would say as she ran her fingers through my locks of hair trying to part the knots and tangles. I was so confused. Wasn’t my hair now straight? I wouldn’t have to do that anymore right? She waited for me to answer but I just stood in front of the mirror looking at her. “Wambui, I’ve told Vivian this time and time again, you need to take care of your hair.” But I thought relaxing my hair was an easier way out. She clicked and mumbled under her breathe in kikuyu. That’s when I knew I was in trouble. I kneeled on the cold tile floor bending my head over the bathtub as mom scrubbed the dirt out of my hair. My neck and back begun to ache so when I asked mom for a break she said “If you took care of your hair, we would be done by now,” and then she continued.

              Not long after, Panama’s  humid air and rainy days washed out the pink paste so mom  and I spend the whole day attacking my nappy roots so it would be back the way it was before. When mom blow dried my hair, I noticed how thin it was. Almost lifeless. It barely reached my shoulder and moved. It was so stiff and brittle, but it was straight. That’s all that mattered. On top of the sink,there were all kinds of shampoos and conditioners. There was sulfate free shampoo. There were aloe vera conditioners. Ones that you couldn’t get in Panama. The types that had herbs with healing properties and the others were just samples. And there were all types of combs too. There were fat ones and other were thin. Some were made of wood and others were plastic.

                My hair felt dead after washing it. I was scared of combing it cause it was brittle and weak. But it was still straight. When Wanjiru blow dried her hair, it was long and straight. It went down to her collarbone and it was full. Mine was thin and matte. A small part of me wished for my old hair, but another part of me loved the simplicity of straight hair. I was holding onto something that wasn’t intangible. Eventually I came across a picture of a black girl with thick locks of hair. It was big and full. She stood proud with her head up smiling. That was the picture that persuaded me to go back to natural.

And eventually, Vivian did too.

How has it succumbed to this?

 

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The river twists and turns down the slippery rocks

Emerald leaves hang from the trees dancing to the the rhythm of the pitter patter rain

Toucans sing along to the the beat of the beads of water dripping against the trees and

Running down their sticky hollow trunks.

 

The squirrels race up and down the wet steam waiting.

Waiting for a fruit to fall, some sap to drip, or a nut to be kicked.

 

The forest, an orchestra, plays it symphony

Hums, buzzes, beats, whispers, and whistles all silenced.

The rain gets heavier, the orchestra gradually comes to an end.

 

Mother nature sings “how has it succumbed to this?”

A bizarre encounter

“See you on Monday”

I waved back as I walked too the car. I had just come back from a sleepover with my friends. We spent the night talking, applying face masks, searching for a movie to watch, and eventually agreeing on a movie we liked only to stop halfway and spend the rest of the night talking. You know… typical sleepover “antics”. I woke up the next morning ready to go home to a clean room and fresh new bed sheets. I just wanted to sleep. I walked into the door to meet my mom picking dishes from the table. Too tired and to weary, I headed straight to my room. As I walked the corridor, I could tell something was a little off. Someone was in the bathroom franticly rushing . The light was on and water was running. I found it just a little bizarre that my little sister didn’t bother to ambush me with questions once I arrived home. She didn’t seem to care whether I brought home candy or anything new. I walked into my room to find my desk cluttered. My once neatly stacked sketch books now in a disarray. My pencils and markers were carelessly thrown around the desk. Did I mention my makeup bag was viciously attacked?It all of a sudden didn’t seem so bizarre but crystal clear.  I shuffled to my bed and threw the blankets on top of myself. Eventually, I slipped into a deep sleep and forgot about my bizarre encounter.

Dear James Alex Fields, an Open Letter

 

 

In the open letter “Dear James Alex Fields”, a high school teenager falls victim of a terrorist attack when a white supremacist by the name of James Alex Fields runs his car into a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia

Zoe, the high school student who finds herself in the center of an attack rights about the chaos that took place on August 12 in her hospital bed. She remembers talking to Heather Hayer who was killed. She remembers being astonished at seeing how many white supremacists showed up at the rally. The heart throb open letter also targets on when a terrorist attack is seen as it is in mainstream medias eyes. This month on the 11, the twin towers were attacked. This was ruled a terrorist attack, however Zoe points out the issue of how it is not seen as one if a person who isn’t muslim does commit an attack on people. Zoe states that “media tends to call one a terrorist attack and another an incident”. This open letter will accompany the articles on the 9.11.01 to make readers consider mainstream medias perception of terrorist attacks.

In the open letter “Dear James Alex Fields” a high school student by the name of Zoe falls victim of a terrorist attack that took place on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. In this open letter she mentions how he won’t be seen as a terrorist in social medias eyes and brings up the conversation of why certain people are seen as terrorists and other are not.

Dear James Alex Fields

Dear James Alex Fields,

As I write this letter, I sit stiff in my hospital bed remembering the horror you put me and multiple other peoples lives through. To this day, what you did keeps me up at night in fear it may happen again.

My friend and I heard about the white supremacists who would be protesting and the thought of people like you crowding the streets to yell your dreadful chants just didn’t sit well with me. I felt as if I had to do something, even if that meant showing up at a small white nationalist protest, or so I thought at the tine to speak my mind and try understand were you were coming from. So my friends and I gathered early morning to set up posters. We were not aware of what was to come as we drove down the street. As I looked out the window, I noticed all the cars with racist bumper stickers and Trumps face and propaganda pasted all over the cars. I admit it, I was frightened at first, Your stupid flags and thundering chants intimidated me. As we grew closer to the crowd we lifted our posters and chanted as loud as we could. We watched as white nationalists marched up and down the streets holding flags with swaztikas and confederate flags. A site you could only see in history books situated in the 1930’s. Before we knew it, a dispute between a white supremacist and counter protester broke out. Other people joined the argument either trying to start or end the fight. Large masses of people rushed to the fight claiming their sides and chanting. As arguments broke out around me, I noticed something going on outside the crowds of people. These white nationalists planned this rally down to the last second. White vans raced up and down the streets dropping and picking people up. KKK and Neo Nazis held shields and sticks along the paths. I was brought back into the scuffle when a woman right next to me announced that the governor declared this a state of emergency.

 

The hot sun was beating down on my face. The smell of mace kept me continuously coughing and breathing for air. We decided to sit on a bench and gulp down every last ounce of water, but giving up wasn’t part of our plan. We gathered back into the crowd using our last bit of energy to protest. What felt like 30 minutes passed and we were officially burnt out. Heading up the crowd we pushed and walked passed people, but before we could make our way out of the groups of people screaming could be heard behined us. Not the chanting or the yelling screaming. No. The eerie type of screaming that send shivers down your back. We were met with crowds of people screeching and shoving us trying to make their way up the street. We had no time to gather a sense of what was happening or to look back and see what was chasing us. We just heard the words “run” and did as we were told. I had the chance to look back and see a black car making its way towards us. With the large groups of people surrounding us, there was no way to escape. I begun to panic when I gained a full idea of what was going on. A hand grabbed at my back and threw me out of the way. I went flying out of the way only to hit the pavement.

What happened afterwards? I don’t remember. All I remember was hearing people yelping and screeching at the top of their lungs. A pain ran down my back as I gained my continence. My head was throbbing and the most scary part was I couldn’t feel my legs. I violently batted my eyes and slowly watched as I slipped back into reality. Ana (one of my friends) sat right beside me weeping. Her head was bruised and her clothes were torn. I looked around me and realized what had happened. Ambulances raced up and down the road attending to people on the side of the streets and paramedics jumped from one patient to another. I still couldn’t feel my legs, but I was happy I made it out alive.

As I sit in my hospital bed, anxious just remembering August 12, I think to myself how people like you James Fields, don’t belong here, today, in 2017. I think about how you won’t be called the terrorist in the media’s eyes. Why? Because your not muslim. The headlines won’t be “Terrorist attack in Charlottesville” but “Incident in Charlottesville”. There should be no more swastikas and confederate flags. No more hatred and bigotry. I truly don’t understand why people like you James, with your close minded opinions, should be aloud to march these streets. Your ideology and what you stand for goes back to the 1920’s when a man wanted to eradicate an entire population, or when a group of men didn’t believe black people should be free. So I hope as you sit behind bars James, you realize how much pain and suffering you put innocent lives through. I hope you live everyday of your life regretting everything you’ve done.

Sincerely,

the 1 out of 20 you injured