TRANSLATIONS & TRANSCRIPTIONS
The ARE Project is an international club. We have members from across the globe who speak numerous different and unique languages. We strive towards having accessible resources for all. So, we have resources translated into different languages.
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"Sneezing is Like Racism"
August 2020 | Poetry Content
How do you explain a sneeze to someone who’s never had one? Well, it’s like when your nose smells some shit, and it doesn’t know how to handle it, so it retaliates. Or, you ever had an itch in a weird place you couldn’t reach? And the more you try to ignore it the more it itches, so you start to convulse and shake in weird ways until it’s satisfied? Dictionary says a sneeze is when you make an involuntary explosion of air from the nose and mouth due to irritation of one’s nostrils. But if you’ve never sneezed before, that doesn’t quite capture the unique feeling of the almost painful need to get this shit out of your face. I once sneezed on a stranger, and the look of horror she gave me still haunts me to this day. And like, it wasn’t even my fault. I turned to the side and sneezed like à decent human being, and she just happened to speed walk into it. I think we don’t have a great way to explain a sneeze because everyone has already experienced it by the time we know the word for it.
How do you explain racism to someone who hasn’t experienced it? Well, it’s like when someone looks at you, and presumes to know your story without ever once saying a word to you, or listening to you, or looking at you. It’s like when someone gets an itch, in the back of their mind, that the skin you’re wearing is so 2014, or 1968, or 1861, is worth a retweet but not equality, is still upset about that whole slavery thing, and the only way to alleviate the itch is to call you boy, or thug, or target. Or to pretend your struggle to survive doesn’t exist. And so to help those who haven’t experienced it, understand just how common this still is. For the duration of this poem, I will replace the word racism with the word sneeze.
I was 15 when I experienced sneezing for the first time. I was meeting my girlfriend’s parents and her father looked me in my eyes and said, “I don’t want you dating my daughter.” He tried to blame it on other people’s sneezing, that he was looking out for our safety. But that's the thing about sneezing. Once you see it, you can always tell when someone’s trying hard to hold it in. I used to believe that sneezing was just a thing we read about in textbooks- could never happen nowadays. So it was just a little jarring when someone sneezed in my face. No blessing or apology, just a shrug that said I shouldn’t be so charred cedar. So pitch black pollen. So dark-brown dust. Since that day, I’ve watched people sneeze openly and behind closed lips. And I can assure you, no one looks appealing when they’re sneezing, looks honorable with both eyes closed. And we seemed to have made it respectable to sneeze behind the same hands that shake our own, assuring us there’s no sneezing problem. Like for people of color, it isn’t allergy season all year round, like this country can just Benadryl its way to equality- as if we weren’t the one’s struggling to keep breathing, drowsy after being prescribed Twitter apologies. And isn’t it funny, how every sneeze can sound unique but we all still know when it’s happening, like we’ve been speaking sneeze our whole lives, reading it in nationalist napkins or far right shirt sleeves claiming sneezing is just a part of our history, chuckling at all the funny ways people try to stop it from happening, telling us their civil war monuments aren’t about sneezing. That would be silly. No, the monuments embody a cure, getting rid of all the irritants would be the best way to stop all this sneezing, wouldn’t it? And in response, we close our eyes and open our Facebook feeds, choosing an emoticon that shows just how angry we are about all this sneezing- and the world keeps turning, like this was all just ordinary. Like it was as natural as…[sneezing sound]
"Black History Month" by Elizabeth Taylor, Vincent Snyder & Nia Lewis
July 2020 | Poetry Content
*Italics indicate 2-3 poets are speaking at the same time
Good morning, class!
It’s February, you know what that means - Black History Month.
A four week opportunity to plan a mini lesson on “I have a dream”
Or that polite old lady who sat at the front of a bus
A socratic seminar on Langston Hughes’ contributions to the Harlem Renaissance
Don’t have time to plan a lesson?
Just throw on the movie “Roots” and you’ll be good for a whole week.
Thirty days in the beginning of a white history year is all we get
Like a pat on the back
It is not our job to teach you about Black history.
But since our courses only cover Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King,
We present: How to understand Black people for dummies.
Or, how we started from the bottom now we’re here
Step one: know some stuff our people have invented
Thank you Marie Van Brittan Brown for creating the home security system you love to watch us on
Thank you Alice Parker for creating the furnace that has yet to melt the heart of the judge
Who sentenced Francis Hayden to life for selling marijuana,
While Stanford swimmer, um, white rapist, Brock Turner, got six months
Step two: understand the complexity of Black hair.
Please don’t ask why I don’t get my hair wet
And no, you can’t touch it.
I want to remove the kinks and knots from my mind, not my hair
Don’t forget, not all Black girls wear weaves
Yes, this is my real hair
No, I don’t curl my hair every morning
It’s not my job to explain to you how my hair naturally falls into a twist.
Step three: we ain’t all criminals
Wipe that look off yo face, girl
I don’t want to take your purse, I’m not trying to sell you drugs
I will sell the idea that I’m not rapist, delinquent, or philanderer
Step four: our diet doesn’t consist of
Fried chicken, watermelon, and kool-aid
I don’t eat fried chicken because I’m Black, I eat it cuz it’s goddamn delicious
I drink Kool-Aid cuz I’ve got a sweet tooth
I eat watermelon because it’s the only healthy item in my local market
It is not our job to educate you about our ancestors
If you don’t know what slavery is, then pick up a damn history book!
But not even those will tell you how many days we spent toiling in the dirt to build the White House
We couldn’t live in for 216 years!
How many hours we had to worry about being lynched for saying the wrong word, being in the wrong area, or looking at the wrong woman
How many graves we had to dig with our bare hands
Understand that we make history every day just by surviving in this white man’s country!
The tides are beginning to turn.
And some are beginning to realize the heart of racism is still alive and healthy.
Now we have guilt as white as spilled milk in puddles all over the nation
But you want us to be the janitors and mop it up
It is not our job to clean up the mess you left
It is not our job to comfort you as you come to terms with the atrocities of your ancestors
It’s time for you acquaint yourself with the dirt
Use your platform of power and preach the gospel of equality
Lock arms with us in a peaceful protest
We fight for freedom and justice every day
Simply by being ourselves
We are the ones living Black history.
You see, simply by being
We are Black history.
We are American history.
Your only job is to join us.
After “The Last New Years Resolution” by Kazumi Chin
The last black girl they killed wore beads in her hair
on picture day. Her name is swallowed instead of spoken.
Her hashtag—trending until they kill the next black boy.
The next black girl they’ll kill is writing this poem.
The first black boy they killed was neither black nor boy.
Seen as some rare breed of African wildlife
to be captured. To be carried across the Atlantic.
To be sacrificed to the sea when his body broke
in the belly of the ship. The first black boy
they killed had a mother.
The last black boy they killed had a mother, too. She is
crying into the camera. Sitting on stage with a sorority
of sonless women. They welcome her to the club she didn’t
ask to join. Daily, my mother prays not to join. I don’t
believe in her god but my poems pray too, in the way poems do.
The next black boy they’ll kill is sitting in my classroom
passing notes to the pretty girl who always does her work.
The next black boy they’ll kill is my older or younger brother, my cousin.
The next black girl they’ll kill is driving with the windows down.
Obeying traffic laws. Listening to a man on the radio talk
about the last black boy. Trying to get home while she
is still whole. Trying not to flinch at the sound of sirens.