The Real Problem With “The Interview” Is Its Racism, Not Its Satire

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The Real Problem With “The Interview” Is Its Racism, Not Its Satire

This is Sook (Diana Bang) with Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) and Dave Skylark (James Franco) and a puppy. She is the only speaking Asian female character in The Interview, and that’s just part of the problem.

This is Sook (Diana Bang) with Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) and Dave Skylark (James Franco) and a puppy. She is the only speaking Asian female character in The Interview, and that’s just part of the problem.

Yes, the movie’s release has been cancelled.* But at the core of the controversy surrounding The Interview — and the alleged reason Sony was hacked earlier this month and Guardians of Peace threatened violence against theaters that show the movie—is the less than favorable depiction of Kim Jong-Un. He’s shown as an American pop culture-loving, trigger-happy goofball of a dictator who still harbors complicated feelings about his relationship with his deceased dictatorial dad, rather than a god among men as North Korean legend dictates. (I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying Katy Perry’s “Firework” plays an integral role in Kim’s character arc.)

Amid all the real world drama, it is important to separate the movie’s relatively serviceable political satire from recycled, racist routines. Most of the celebrity reaction to the movie’s cancellation has been outrage and disappointment, that the North Koreans won” because the less than favorable treatment of their Dear Leader was ultimately censored. But many of the jokes in The Interview are at the expense of well-worn Asian stereotypes, and the movie’s humor relies heavily on one-dimensional depictions of Asians that abound in American media that add little to the satire itself. As a Korean-American woman, I found the movie’s orientalism more offensive than any satirical depiction of Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean government.

The use of broken English, and making fun of Asian languages, is one of the first boxes this movie ticks. In The Interview, Dave Skylark, an American celebrity TV host (James Franco), and his trusty producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen, who also co-directed the film), score an exclusive interview with the elusive leader of North Korea. When Aaron is first contacted by the North Koreans, he is told to meet them in Dandong, China. He responds with two clarifying questions: “Did you just say China? And did you just say ‘dong’?” The joke here, of course, being that words of Asian origin sound like sex organs.

Most of the Korean characters speak in clipped sentences with dropped articles like “the,” with Rs and Ls reversed, that is typical of the generic Asian accent often heard in American media. What’s particularly annoying is when the white male Americans drop in and out of this accent, sometimes to joke with each other, like when Aaron tells Dave, “You no Skylark. You secret agent.”

The accent is also affected to communicate directly to the North Koreans, presumably so they will better understand the Americans. When Skylark arrives in North Korea, he is greeted by a North Korean welcoming committee, and is handed a mic. Slowly, in his best Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yuniyoshi impression, he tells the crowd, “We have different faces but inside, we’re same same.” Skylark then thanks the North Koreans for inviting him to their country with an earnest, “Konichiwa.” This gaffe, of mistaking Japanese for Korean, would make any Korean, or Japanese person for that matter, cringe.

The movie’s treatment of Asian women is also cringe-worthy. Skylark and Aaron’s fixer is a North Korean woman named Park Sook-Young who is responsible for coordinating all of the country’s propaganda. Aaron first meets Sook, portrayed by Diana Bang, in the mountains of rural China, where she descends from a military helicopter wearing a tight-fitting military uniform with knee-high leather boots. She barks orders, explaining the terms of the meet-up with Kim Jong-Un, and Aaron’s only reaction to the exchange as she walks away is, “Damn. She was sexy.” At one point, Sook lies in Aaron’s bed unannounced and uninvited, eager for him to come back so she can ravage him. Sook fulfills the role of the exotic “Dragon Lady” dominatrix, and it isn’t until after she seduces Aaron her intellect begins to be taken seriously.

The only other Asian women appearing in the movie are members of Kim Jong-Un’s harem, who show up, bikini-clad, to drink booze, play basketball topless, and drink margaritas in an old Soviet tank with Kim and Skylark. This portrayal of Asian women, as little more than submissive and sexy, is as old as Asian stereotypes come, recalling concubines of days past.

In its defense, The Interview makes an effort to point out the human rights abuses perpetrated by the Kim regime, and it lampoons the U.S. government as well. (“Kim must die. That’s the American way,” says Skylark while on his mission.) And Asian women aren’t the only women getting the short end of the stick in this male-dominated comedy. Lizzy Caplan’s character, a CIA agent who orchestrates the whole assassination plot, is accused of being a “honeypot” because there’s no way a woman as attractive as Caplan could be in such a high-level role in a U.S. government agency. It is clearly intended as satire, and all criticism of the movie should be through that lens. No one is safe from mockery in The Interview. Not even John Kerry, who is described as an “oak-looking motherfucker.”

Besides, North Korea is a county where truth is often stranger than fiction, and, to be frank, Skylark’s fictional trip to North Korea doesn’t start off much more weirdly than the true story of Dennis Rodman’s VICE-organized basketball tournament. North Korea is an easy target for satire, and the real geopolitical effects of this movie shouldn’t be discounted. But the use of Asian stereotypes adds little, if nothing at all, to the crux of the conversation. They’re cheap jokes, and it’s the cliched Asian accents, the degrading treatment of Asian women, and the generally orientalist tone ofThe Interview that should be driving the controversy.

Writer's Update: You can now stream the movie on YouTube watch it for yourself!

 


About the Author

Maxine Builder writes and thinks about global health policy, with a special interest in urban health and South and East Asia. A native New Yorker, she currently lives in Brooklyn, and once appeared on Manhattan's most bizarre public access program The Chris Gethard Show.  

 

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A Different Type of Love

Our love isn’t a tearful love, or an aching and longing and suffering love. It doesn’t keep us up until dawn, pricking us with pins to prove that our adoration is real. In our embrace, pain and passion are not synonymous.

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Tales of A Long Distance Friendship

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Tales of A Long Distance Friendship

At 10 years old, we became friends. I didn’t like you much at first.

You went to church every week. At first I did, too. You talked about God and you seemed to pay attention. I didn’t. I became cynical about it at a very young age and I wanted to spend my Sunday mornings in bed. Eventually, you were asked to teach Sunday school. I wasn’t. (Obviously.) 

You loved helping and participating in all of our village’s parties: dancing, hosting, organizing. For years I saw you stand in front of crowds, I saw you sing in the church choir, I watched you become a huge part of the place we lived in. Everyone knew who you were.

At 13, I couldn’t imagine my life without you.

We must’ve watched Amélie, The Devil Wears Prada and Moulin Rouge about 20 times each. We celebrated our birthdays at the cinema with Darth Vader and Harry Potter. We did horror-movie nights where no one slept and those who did always woke up with painted faces. We did insane dance marathons.

It was never just about you and me. We are two individuals that grew up together, but we also grew up with a lot of other people. Except some came and went. They were a part of our lives for a year or two (sometimes 10), and then they left. It doesn’t matter whether they returned or not, because for a while we were without them. And I was never without you.

 At 15, you made me feel comfortable in my own skin.

We wrote Valentine’s Day letters to each other in the school library. You accepted me for who I was and didn’t judge my adolescent crises. You spent recess telling me jokes in the infirmary while I got over my panic attacks. We made plans to marry rich people, steal all their money and run away together. 

I made new friends and I had my first relationship and we didn’t spend as much time together. We went on a field trip and people blamed you for something you didn’t do. I switched schools the year before college.

At 17, I didn’t see you every day in class for the first time in 7 years.

You became an essential help to our town’s President, you became part of the church youth group and went on church trips to other countries. We had lunch together every other week and still saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince together at the movies. You grabbed my arm as Dumbledore died.

I felt terrible about leaving you — I never knew what it was to go to prom with you, going through college options or going on senior trip with you. I got in the university I always wanted, in a different city. You stayed home, and we stayed in touch.

At 19, you were there for me anyway.

You wished me a Happy New Year and spent the next two days holding me, watching me cry uncontrollably over my grandfather’s death. It was a rough start of the year. The roughest I’ve had. I had to suddenly learn about grief and utter weakness, and you were the only one who knew what to say, when to be quiet, when to make me laugh and when to wipe my tears. I will never, ever, remember that day without feeling incredibly blessed to have you as my friend.

Our long-distance friendship became permanent.

At 20, the world couldn’t break us.

I went to Spain, you went to England. I left first, so I was the first to freak out. You stayed on the phone with me for hours, listened to me sob about wanting to go home. I was but a lost child, nervous to the bone. You went on to have your own worries, feeling homesick and lost, too.

We finished our degrees and quickly enough, you left on another adventure. I bought a ticket to visit you for a week and saw you for the first time as a real adult. You taught in a French school and asked me to attend one of your classes. I spent my days visiting local villages, and at night we got drunk on cheap wine and sang songs from when we were kids. I was still the only one to always know when you were joking.

After you were done teaching, you got a temporary job in Paris and told me you were thinking of moving again.

At 22, you are volunteering with the church in Africa.

You told me you didn’t have a home anymore, but you weren’t going to settle anywhere unless you were sure that’s where you wanted to stay. You’d keep flying, even if you were tired of moving, of making friends just to leave them. For once, I was scared I’d become one of those people that might never see you again. I snapped a picture of you the day you said goodbye because I want to remember you before you let a place change you a bit more.

I made a promise to send you weekly reminders that I love you and we chat more often than we have for a long time. I’m writing my master’s thesis and you’re taking care of 150 kids. Your tasks include: tutoring, washing dishes, bathing, cutting hair, getting rid of cobwebs, teaching at the local school, being the goalkeeper, using made-up weapons to battle the kids, storytelling, making up games, trimming nails, general cleaning and burying frogs and snakes.

I fumble through infinite paper sheets, books and articles as I talk to you. You tell me you don’t notice the ants in your food when you’re eating anymore and you send me pictures of that painful paradise. I feel stupid. I put down my work and my college assignments and spend the next hour living through you. I feel like crying because you are the bravest, most honest person I know.

I got to share so much with you for all these years and I don’t stop enough to be thankful for you. If anyone ever made me want to be a better person, it was you. I can’t think of anyone better to do what you’re doing, even though I’m sure there are many other kind souls out there working for a greater good, leaving their countries, their families and friends behind to become selfless. I would say the world needs more of those people, but I can only talk about you — and I am 100% certain that the world needs you a lot more. You, with your twisted sense of humor. You, with your ability to be the best friend anyone could have. They are so, so lucky to have you, too.

This is this week’s reminder that I love you. I just wished I stopped missing you.


About the Author

Alexandra Gandra, a freelance writer and aspiring filmmaker from Portugal. She holds a bachelor's degree in New Communication Technologies and is currently pursuing a master's in Digital Audiovisual. Her obsessive interests include traveling with a camera in her hand, scribbling notes in overcrowded coffee shops and developing crushes on characters from tv shows and films.

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What It Means When You're a "Mean Girl"

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What It Means When You're a "Mean Girl"

A friend of the child I babysit recently accosted me. “I’ve heard all about you,” she said knowingly. “I heard you’re really nice.” I very nearly scoffed. I knew the kid was kissing my ass. If there’s anything I feel certain of, it’s that. I am not nice.

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What A Peaceful Black Person Wants You To Understand About Ferguson

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What A Peaceful Black Person Wants You To Understand About Ferguson

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Strong Women Don't Need To Be Told They're Strong

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Strong Women Don't Need To Be Told They're Strong

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Take it all in. Feel the prickle of the breeze on your arms, the firm ground below your feet, the bigness of the sky above you. Stand up tall to unfold yourself, opening every inch to the wide world around you.

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Charmine

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Charmine

Part ONE

You've come a long way

and now you reach out for

your goal in life 

even further

beyond your own expectations.

 

You made your dance and actual

body language your armor and 

hapiness-triggered weapon

to fight against life's constraints (!) 

and global collateral damages

— Humanity as a whole soaked in sweat & blood;

always late for fighting tolerated wars against itself. 

 

BUT ALL IS WELL! 

HERE COMES

CHARMINE!

 

She causes chaos & plays

with the rules, never

compromising with her

integrity,

constantly drawing her

strength from her

break-dancing troops of moves

— pounding feet & clapping hands

against her heart

beating & racing,

taking off in the air and

defying gravity!

 

She makes life turn into films...

 

[On the run,

gangsters

— knifes in hand,

trying to catch up with her pace —

she stops and turn her head back at them

with piercing eyes, 

forcing them (sad gangsters)

to freeze & turn around

back at her

radiant victorious aura!]

 

AND THERE SHE GOES...

Part 2

 

When I am told on your

looks, body and features

I say “her nose makes cleopatra

posing in full-frontal 

green with envy”...

 

Jaws drop.

Big boys' wild heads & necks

know the limits you established.

You make them sit & stay put

as you walk around.

If one moves, they all get punched.

 

Always geared up

with your self-confidence

in perpetual expansion;

your beauty revolves freely

around it.

 

And this particular image of you heals my creativity

— as far back as when I just can't write,

and then seeing your smile, your eyes & energy

inspire me once more.

 

This punctuated poem is meant to be an Ode

rather than a poor sad thank you for saving me

no matter what.

 

You're no queen, no

princess, no flower nor a color,

you're my muse & incarnate the essence of being a woman.


Header image by Karleener, an artist with a focus on capturing the female essence through movement and portraiture. See more of his work here

About the Author

Jean-Marie Trichot holds a bachelors degree in French Literature and a masters degree in English Linguistics, Literature and Civilization. He is French, but can't help writing in English. Jean-Marie has always been fond of "the study of language" and believes that what he writes the most about is the way that we communicate with ourselves and the world with words aiming at the heart of Life. Follow Jean-Marie's blog here and read more of his work. Also, keep up with his life on instagram

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I'm a Writer... Aren't I?

One year ago, I took a chance and sent a personal essay to a popular women’s website. The piece wasn’t particularly great, written slapdash on a whim. I only sent it in because I needed to feel like I was doing something other than working on my Master’s thesis and throwing resumes at jobs I would never get.

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A Series of Firsts: When My Body Betrayed Me (And Why I Despise PDA)

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A Series of Firsts: When My Body Betrayed Me (And Why I Despise PDA)

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment I became strange about physical intimacy, but easy to recognize the results. I am currently eyeing the couple in front of me with a mixture of intrigue and disgust. Dressed in plaid, swigging twin beers, and wrapping themselves around each other as they play Pacman, the couple’s behavior is making my insides revolt. 

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Native Soul

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Native Soul

Native Soul, share with me your tribal lips In this wasteland of whispers,

Oh mad shaman can I kiss her?

Drink the sweetness of her elixir?

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To A Dear Friend Departed

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To A Dear Friend Departed

I’m standing in the kitchen chopping tomatoes when I think of you.

I’m walking down the street when I think of you.

I’m thinking about home when I think of you.

 

The thoughts come suddenly and unbidden. A flash of memory will pass through my mind and the world stops spinning. In my mind, you are there. You are alive and you are laughing.

“That’s a fiction now,” I tell myself.

 

You’re gone, but that’s so big that my mind can’t wrap around it. Time has passed and I’m still floored when I remember. I’ve lived far away for so long, but I can bring to mind the image of my home so easily. The familiar sense of pride in the people I’m fortunate enough to call friends, the swell of happiness upon seeing everyone together. And you are there. Always, you are there.

I have to remind myself that isn’t true anymore.

 

We didn’t share years of childhood memories. We would go months without talking, catching up when we saw each other but rarely in touch in the interim. But you were part of the mosaic of my life for the past seven years. A constant friendly face, a warm greeting and a sincere hug and a round of drinks. Each time I came home I knew I would see you. It didn’t need to be planned or thought out. You’d be there, and we would laugh.

 

Standing in the kitchen or on the street I remember when you saved me from myself on my 21st birthday, when I accidently invited most of the bar back to my house for an after party. Did I ever tell you that I waited for you to come back that night? We danced at friends’ weddings, and on a beer soaked dance floor at the local bar where we very earnestly danced very poorly. We texted while I sat in the airport in London and I felt a little closer to home.

 

I felt closer to home again in the days after the accident. The outpourings of love and grief via social media were cathartic. It was the closest thing to communal grieving I had, for on the day of the funeral I could only send my love to the place where all our memories are set.

 

There’s a weight in my chest that I suspect is always there, but I only notice when I think of you. My breath becomes shallow and each pound of my heart is amplified in my ears. In a way, the discomfort is soothing. It’s my body telling me this is real. It’s all real. You were my friend, and now you are gone. I hope my body never adjusts to that reality. I hope I am always uncomfortable in a world without you.

 

I have made a mantra of the words that first passed through my head after I heard the awful news. There’s more that I could dream of saying to you. Things about kindness and compassion and joy, all words that describe you and my memories of you perfectly. In life you were selfless, and you deserved so much better than what you got that day. But I can’t go back and shower you in the love and gratitude and warmth you inspired in the people who cared about you. All I can do is repeat those words.

 

First, a deep breath. Then:

“I hope it was fast. I hope you felt no pain. I hope you were not afraid.”

 

My meager hopes sent into the still-recent past, the world begins to spin again. My thoughts drift to other things, other responsibilities, other moments in time. All the little details of my life become real again and I’m swept up in their current. But someday soon, I’ll think of you again, and I’ll remember, and I’ll mourn the days past and the days you never saw. It’s the least I can do for a dear friend.


About the Author

Bridey Heing is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. Her interests include travel, international politics, film, and tattoos. More of her work can be seen here.

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My Power In Emotions

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My Power In Emotions

I am an emotional being. I feel my feelings to my very core. “Irrational.” “Needy.” “Crazy.” “Sensitive.” I’ve been told to “get over it”. Tramp those feelings down. Compact them until they exist only in a tiny cube inside my body. 

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If Our Bodies Are Temples

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If Our Bodies Are Temples

If our bodies are temples, and I’m not saying they are, but if... just if they are, shouldn’t they be monuments to ideals higher than fear and doubt and timidity? A temple is no place to cower.

If our bodies are temples, and each line and curve and muscle and cell was first a particle in a star, and every piece of this temple has a legacy of evolution and change and adaptation, what a weak tribute it is to live in the shadows.

 

If our bodies are temples, it is not in the pristine and solemn sense. These temples are messy and full of life, no place for lowered eyes and voices. These temples are not made holy by some archaic ritual with smoke and mirrors. The soft and persistent beating of a heart is the oldest prayer mankind has ever known.

If our bodies are temples, they were not raised to honor some chaste deity. They were not made for society to bend and break in the name of purity and innocence and modesty. These soft temples that give life and receive pleasure and feel pain stand too tall to bow to values so low.

 

If our bodies are temples, let them be dedicated to our best selves. Let them be places of bravery and boldness, wildness and encouragement. Let these temples be overflowing with warmth, kindness, and unfettered joy. Let these temples be a refuge.

If our bodies are temples, each howl of laughter is a song of devotion. Each time the coffers of our lungs are filled with air which is then released in a burst of joy or sorrow, a soft sigh or a lingering moan, we are singing our praise.

 

If our bodies are temples, our movements are offerings. As our bodies twist and our heads fall back and our limbs explore the space around us, we are giving to the universe the only thing that is authentically and tangibly our own.

If our bodies are temples, by adorning our skin in ink we are marking moments in time, leaving stained glass images in the walls of our temple to signify the parts of our story we hold most dear. It is an intimate and public manifestation of the most holy parts of ourselves.

 

If our bodies are temples, their full use is the highest form of praise. These temples are made to be explored and known, every corner and nook and secret discovered and understood and embraced. Clean the walls with kisses and shine the windows with a lover’s warm gaze. To feel the deepest pleasure these temples can provide, to give ourselves over to such indulgent abandon, and to love with our bodies as well as our hearts is a blessing, be it with ourselves or with others.

If our bodies are temples, we must treat them as such. We must inhabit each part and find joy in each action. We must feel love and give love. We must see these temples as monuments to potential and beauty and time. We must know that these temples make things holy and need no outside force to legitimize each action and thought and feeling.

 

If our bodies are temples, and I’m not saying they are… but if our bodies are temples, we must worship.

Header Image: Harri Peccinotti


About the Author

Bridey Heing is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. Her interests include travel, international politics, film, and tattoos. More of her work can be seen here.

 

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How To Be Yourself In A World Where Uniqueness Is Hard To Find

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How To Be Yourself In A World Where Uniqueness Is Hard To Find

When you meet interesting people, they catch your eye. Because they are different.. whether it be the way they create, or model, or look... or all of those things. You can feel freeness and difference in someone because when they are around you, well you too feel free and happy for almost no reason at all. 

So here we are: Being yourself & why it is important in becoming the most you that you can possibly be.

 

1. Breaking away from the norm. Being a high-quality you. From an early age we are taught to “be yourself” but as we go through school and the transitions of life we kind of form back into one another. During those times if you are somewhere that pushes you to be the same, it can be difficult to “find your own”.

You see, everyone wants to be different... but nobody wants YOU to be different. In my hometown I was outcast at times for being different... at times for being too happy or for whatever other reasons people could create. It wasn’t until I left that I realized everyone is really just afraid... of being different themselves, so it seems easier to make fun of the people actually being different in thoughts that you might scare them into wanting to remain the same as you  and everyone else. For me, Austin became a place that showed me that I could not only be myself but that people love you for being yourself. Being different and being able to express yourself will in turn be one of the most profound things that happens to you. The world doesn’t want you to be happy on your own, they want you to depend on items or other people or buying things to make you happy... it’s what makes the world go round. But remember, being happy on your own, without other things... that is where you begin to see how things really work.

 

2. It isn’t until you lose fear of being different that you begin to create work you are actually proud of. No matter what kind of “thing” you create… this rule applies. When you are pressured to be the same as everyone else, the things you create or whatever you put your energy into just in turn looks the same as everything else.

 

3. Being interesting is what people like. It seems really simple right? People like interesting and it is the people who are themselves and express that .. who end up creating really great things. Think of anyone great... The Beatles, Dali, Einstein, Aristotle. I mean, as far back in time as we can look. The people who created the things that remain to this day were the ones who were different than everyone else. The ones who expressed the things they were passionate about in their own way.

 

4. You have the ability to be great. When you realize this — the world is yours. I watched the speech Ashton Kutcher recently gave and was impressed by his ability to pass on such beautiful words. You see he mentioned something we should all remember. The people who created the world around us… the people who have been great like all the people I mentioned above, are no different than you and I. They merely harnessed the ability to be themselves. If everyone was really “themselves” and not what everyone else wants us to be, I believe the world would be full of so much greatness that the cosmos might explode into an orchestra of the most beautiful visual music ever before seen. We each have the ability to be great. To be different. “Don’t live your life.. build your life”.

So the theme for today is — Be yourself. Whatever you do, make, build, write... make it yours. Not somebody else’s. Make it unique and you. That is what separates you from the rest of the world.

Being yourself is how you will really live and define a life you are proud of. You can’t really ask for much more. 

 

Image by Sarah Eiseman


About The Author 

Sarah Eiseman is a 24 year-old, daydream believer. She spends her days doing physical therapy with the elderly and her free time trying to break the separation gaps between raw emotions and art. Sarah writes music, travels and shoots photos in order to express feelings and try to show the beautiful light and dark in the world... in a way that others can relate to. To show that we are all more alike and connected than we think. Feeling feelings together. 

Be sure to follow Sarah on instagramtumblr and flickr

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A Series Of Firsts: First Love

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A Series Of Firsts: First Love

When we met we were young enough to be perfect. Neither of us was broken or worn at the edges, no baggage weighing us down and rounding our shoulders. We were clumsy in our still new bodies with so many angles and curves. We were 16, and we fell in love.

 

At 16 falling in love was the only thing that counted. At 18 falling in love at 16 was the biggest mistake of our lives. At 25 the pieces have been put back together, but we’re strangers.

 

First love is reckless because we are fools. The raw pleasure of wanting and being wanted, seeing and being seen, touching and being touched is visceral and overwhelming when you’re 16. You fill with love. It makes you dizzy. It whips you up in warmth and longing. You are only a child hearing the oldest song in the universe, but your wobbly legs can’t keep the rhythm and you have no choice but to be swept along.

 

At 16 love was good. Love was happy, giggling as you steal a kiss in a movie theater or hold hands under a blanket or profess undying devotion in dark corners. It was notes in the hallway, movies in the living room, school dances in the cafeteria. It was innocence disguised in the words we thought adults in love said. He borrowed my books. I watched his garage band perform. Love was nice, and we were nice, and that’s all that mattered.

 

We fell in love before we knew who we were, before the little cracks started to form in our rosey cheeks. We learned the hard way that our full selves didn’t fit together as well as our partially formed shells. At 18, I was broken, fragile, and unsteady. He needed me, I needed him, and we both fell short. He came to represent everything I knew, all the things I clung to so desperately and struggled to push away so frantically. Leaving him and reuniting became a crutch to ease my anxieties. He drank. I cried. We struggled alone forcing ourselves to be together. Love was no longer innocent or good. Love was a cudgel with which we beat ourselves bloody.

 

When finally we broke apart, did we shatter? No. We had shattered a long time before. We had chipped away at each other until the center couldn’t hold, and yet still we tried so hard to be whatever it was we thought we had to be in order to be a we. Guilt ate at me as I watched our distance grow deeper and meaner and more volatile. We hated each other but longed for that familiar face. The face that had smiled in the summer sun at 16. Until, one day, the streams of our separate lives whisked us in opposite directions. I was I, and he was he, and we were 20.

 

It’s been years since I’ve seen him now. I hear about him every several months from friends who walk the line between us. He’s living here, he’s working there, he’s doing well. I imagine the same friends telling him about me. “She’s living here, she’s working there, she’s doing well.” I am doing well. I became an adult and I fell in love and now I’m part of another we. A fully formed we. I hope the same for him, but I will never be part of his happiness. There’s a lifetime and hundreds of miles between us now.

 

He knew me and I knew him when we had nothing to know, just half formed ideas about what love and life meant. We were everything to each other when being everything was a low-level commitment. But to hold someone else up you first must learn to stand on your own legs. We didn’t know that at 16. We just knew how good together felt. We were fools.

 

Photo Credit: Tumblr


About The Author 

Bridey is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. Her interests include travel, international politics, film, and tattoos. More of her work can be seen here.

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Steps: In Memory of Renisha McBride

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Steps: In Memory of Renisha McBride

“I want to go home.” Renisha McBride was speaking and someone, maybe a woman, was there.

Renisha was talking to no one.                                                                                  

She wanted to go home.

 

Night time wobbled, dizzying. The woman’s voice came out in sharp, distant clips.

A dull ringing in the front of Renisha’s head traveled to her ears interrupting the woman’s voice.

 “…You…help…calling.” What was this woman saying? Through her fingers the sparkling pavement tilted and rocked as it crunched.

The blurry, underwater figure of this woman swayed a few feet away. Her body rippled and appeared unclear as though a pebble had been dropped on Detroit to upset the darkness and the pavement.

The woman stepped toward Renisha tentatively. Crunch sounded under Renisha’s heavy feet. A memory flashed as two cars came into her vision.

The sensation of her car coming to an abrupt stop jolted through her ringing head. A memory of the seatbelt snatching her back to the seat knocked her even further off balance. The sound of metallic crunching cut sharply through the ringing to snatching her out of the fog. The side of her head was warm and her hands were damp. Her head, heavy and too light at the same time, had hit something.

The steering wheel? The window?

“I want to go home.” Renisha could take care of her head at home.

The fuzzy woman’s voice lost volume as Renisha’s feet staggered off. Her hands were wet, but she was not sweating. This was early morning, in November and it was cold.

 

Detroit was cold.

 

Unsteadily she stepped, trying to make sense of her missing phone and sticky hands. Renisha was dizzy and she could not remember why her car would not start. Her feet could get her home…

from here.

 

It was early this November morning, cold and quiet. The sound of shoe soles occasionally scuffing the pavement was heard only by Renisha. The buzz of streetlamps provided a bass line for the offbeat rhythm of this black girl’s feet.

 

Renisha hears almost nothing,

Except Detroit in the distance.

How long have her feet been shuffling,

One over the other? November is cold.

There is no answer. How far till

home?

 

Her head hurts, but the blood has dried.

Strands of hair lie plastered to her temple,

Her hands feel the stickiness dried and cracking.

Drinks from earlier have begun to retreat from her.

Renisha’s mind is a little more aware.

She is not alert.

She is afraid.

This is not home.

For lost people, to

Become afraid is reasonable.

Fear is

Simple and natural.

Renisha is afraid.

 

Help those who

Help themselves.

By knocking on a door

She helped herself

To an assumption of

Goodwill.

A faith in the Golden

Rule,

A belief that someone

Gives a damn.

 

Renisha is not Golden,

Renisha is black.

Black is not the rule.

Nor the exception,

In the wrong neighborhood,

Black is the aggression.

Black is not at home.

 

A black girl walks onto a porch. A black hand knocks on a locked door.

The door is opened. A black girl blinks at a black hole.

This is not help.

 

The light of a humming street lamp glints over the side of the metal cylinder peeking out of the opened door. This gun, this weapon responds.

Silently, cold and Unblinking.

This weapon is a replacement,

For ask and ye shall receive.

A 19 year old was asking for help.

 

She wanted to go...

The dark hole stayed between Renisha’s face and this stranger’s home.

Renisha never went home.

 


Renisha McBride

Renisha McBride, a nineteen-year-old African-American woman, was involved in a car accident in a Detroit suburb at around 1 A.M. McBride, who was disoriented, knocked at the door of Theodore Wafer, a white homeowner who fired a shotgun through his screen door and killed her.


About the Author

Dallas Robinson writes as a means to turn rage into love. She is a Black lesbian who loves food, her family, sports and her cats. Dallas works as a Feminist youth mentor and believes WOC are the future. Be sure to follow Dallas on twitter

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You're Here For A Reason

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You're Here For A Reason

Learn from what you’re living and who you’re loving. You’ll understand when you feel most comfortable, what hurts you. You’ll understand what you love and what other people can bring out of the darkness to help you learn to love yourself.

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Why Your Story Matters

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Why Your Story Matters

Each and every strand of our ordinary experience is woven into the much more meaningful quilt of life. We are merely products of experience and the experiences of others and for that reason, I truly believe that we should share the knowledge gained from our daily escapades.

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