There is no such thing as colour

When you’ve worn the coat of oppression or superiority as an identity, how can you simply shake it off: the suit makes the man doesn’t it?

What does Black History Month mean in the modern, Western world? People don’t practice racism. The colour of your skin doesn’t affect your career opportunities. Interracial marriage is universally acceptable. People, regardless of their skin, have access to education. It sounds so easy, forcing the image of democracy and freedom over inequality in the world. It is a comforting image; it allows us to function without guilt, but sometimes reality reminds us of the falseness of this image. The idea of democracy, freedom, and equality, now function as ideologies that don’t allow us to question the actual state of people. Sure I’m free, yes everyone is equal and colour doesn’t matter. If we think there is no racism, we’ll be blinded by blatant acts of it. Black History Month, among other things, reminds us that some features of our society (people, institutions, law), are still coloured by prejudices. I believe there is racism is the world, not because I go looking for it, but because the media lays the pickings at my feet.

Is race never an issue? To that I answer by asking: when you’ve worn the coat of oppression or superiority as an identity, how can you simply shake it off: the suit makes the man doesn’t it? Changing dominant views, societal conditions and prejudices towards people of colour isn’t something that occurred alongside freedom. Being a free black person did not mean that you were a living human being. Human recognition had to be earned by devoted people like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X and others who took up the cause against racism. Freedom doesn’t equal equality, respect and love.

Great black people fought, made art and invented things so we commemorate them in February. A single month, out of the entire year dedicated to their achievements. People don’t have to think about racism, slavery and lynching in any other month, only in February. Are you witnessing something racist in your culture? Wait until February, that’s the appropriate time to bring it up. Just like there’s an app for that, there’s a month for thinking empathetically.

On Martin Luther King Day I read posts and heard rants from people saying that it doesn’t make sense for them to go to work. However, the argument I heard these people make was that Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man therefore it doesn’t make sense for them to go to work on a day dedicated to his greatness. Those two things – work and Martin Luther King – are unrelated. If you want a day off from work, that’s fine, but don’t use the pretense of a great man to get that. That’s not what the day should be about. What if we all demanded the day off because racism against people of colour is still prevalent; black men are stereotyped as stupid, dead beet fathers; black women are painted as loud, obnoxious, uneducated, ghetto characters; black people are asked to tailor their hair to Eurocentric ideals; inner-racism exists in cultures of colour; and sexism, homophobia and racism still exist even though they are rooted in biological occurrences that are under no one’s control? What if we demanded that we will neither participate in nor contribute to a society in which not all members are treated equally? Why don’t we talk about that, instead of using the sufferance of people for our own benefit?

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What Am I? We are The Fallen

This is a continuation to the poem What Am I? that I posted on Tuesday in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge. I had the idea for the short story a while back, and decided to try it out in a poem as well. Hope you enjoy. Comments and feedback are always welcome.

The Fallen

“Well then. I won’t be seeing you again” Hielo said, drifting through fragmented clouds towards Nieve.

Nieve looked out the fortress’s white window, towards the green ground and the crystal skies. In adjoining homes and distant forts, soldiers prepared for the first battle of the season. “I agree,” Nieve said through frozen lips. “We are the seekers. The seekers never make it back. We need to burn some holes so it is easier for you weaklings when you come. You know how it is, the mature ones first. It’s only fair. If you hurry up – that is if we even leave you anything – you may get some flesh.”

Hielo frowned, refusing to look out the window. “Of course you won’t be coming back. No one ever comes back from a mission, regardless of its success. This war is pointless. I might as well kill myself now and save them some trouble.”

“Wouldn’t you like to bite into some warm flesh?” Nieve goaded. They carried no weapons into war, only their cold, cutting teeth.

“I’d rather stay up here, nice and cold.”

Nieve ignored Hielo. “Things are changing at the front, I don’t know why but they are. I don’t think they even know why it’s happening,” Nieve said, looking at the distant ground below.

“How would you know? Have you been to a battle? Have you met anyone who has? None of us have and none likely will, for not long at least, meet anyone who has been to the front.”

“Yeah, I know I haven’t met anyone but something has changed. The winds are colder in the main fortresses—”

“You’re going to die Nieve. The weather may change and the winds may shift, but your death is a certainty, a certainty since the day you were made – written, signed and ensured by Sol.”

“The winds may shift in our favour.”

“Aye to that. May they bring us more swiftly than usual to our death.

Thousands of white soldiers fell from the sky, eager to make contact with the enemy, to solidify a front for those who would inevitably follow. There was no home territory, nor a place to regroup and collect the fallen. Not one soldier would be buried. The wind moved through their ranks, gently steering the paratroopers as they fell. The cold air cut across their exposed skin, but they were used to that. The cold reassured them.

Some clung to their neighbours hoping to mass a group attack. Bracing themselves for impact, the group stood a better chance of staying intact. Nieve tried to link to a comrade but a wall of air separated them. Teasing and testing, the current ripped them apart, then brought them together, but not close enough to touch. The wind directed their attack; the soldiers forfeited control of their bodies when they fell from the base. They moved in dizzying, spiralling flurries. Nieve looked towards the green ground, as it transformed into unfamiliar colours, obscure shapes and sounds popping sounds.

Nieve wept. Actually, Nieve’s body wept. Home is in the heavens. If we die where do we go? The snowflake melted in the winter air, the first in a succession of flakes to liquify in Earth’s atmosphere. The fallen became indistinguishable, lost faces in the grey slush; dead before they breached the front. How do you mourn a face you can’t remember, dissolved into a puddle of greyness?

Once sharp flakes, now shapeless droplets, cold rain exploded against hard, dry surfaces. Street lamps, glass windows, parked cars and green grass glistened in the rising sun, crystallized in blankets of ice. Drops of rain don’t burn, sting, hurt; but they clung, like kerosene on wood they clung and seeped in, waiting to be ignited.

“It’s snow Tommy. You’ve seen this before, every year this happens.” Dan dragged his feet in the snow, not waiting for his son to follow.

“Yeah daddy but it tickles when it melts in my mouth.” The boy traced down single flecks of snow as they fell from the sky. His mouth open and his tongue flailing, he rarely caught anything. They moved to quickly for him to catch. He couldn’t  focus on a single flake, for they merged together and danced quickly as they floated down the sky. Tommy’s toes tickled, planted in the pooling snow they began to burn. He frowned. The flakes seemed to dance around him, deliberately avoiding his tongue.

Dan called back, cautioning. “And they will sting like hell when they bite your tongue.”

I don’t need you to be my hero

Just some backword thoughts

The less the better. If we had less heroes, the world would be a better place. If we stopped looking up to people, following them, aspiring to be them, then would we actually look at ourselves?

I woke up at 5 this morning and my body refused to let me sleep in until my scheduled wake up time of 7:30. I need to get back into my normal sleeping patterns. If I’m up I might as well do something productive before school. I read a quote from Sherlock, posted by jessicaandtheworld and I loved it, so I jotted down  some of my thoughts. Mind you, at 5 in the morning this may not make much sense — feel free to stop reading if it doesn’t — but I think the construct of heroism is something we should pay attention to not only as people but as writers.

The less the better. If we had less heroes, the world would be a better place. If we stopped looking up to people, following them, aspiring to be them, then would we actually look at ourselves?

Sometimes I get lost in the great authors and their works, and I forget about myself. I’m a writer, and so are you. It’s true that without the bodies of works that we’ve read we wouldn’t be the awesome writers that we are today. We can’t help but be influenced and stimulated by the texts that we read and see. However, it is also true that we need space to grow as writers.

Your voice is unique, your story untold; think of what you risk losing by trying to be Hemingway, Woolf or Shakespeare. These people are our writing heroes because their writings and ideas are new. They were influenced by previous artists, poets and authors, but found a way to internalizing their influences. It’s a hard thing to do, to stand out in a day when everyone is a “writer,” but you owe it to your being, history and ideas.

So where is your writing voice; where have you left it? Maybe you lost it a while ago while reading Austen or Sanderson. Maybe you forgot it in the train, sleeping with Eliot in your hands. Regardless, we’re not here to judge (I’ve tossed my voice away in some unspectacular places). Find that voice and love it like it’s Prince George of Cambridge. Actually, don’t do that. Love it like it’s yours.

Maybe if we focussed on developing our own talents and skills, we needn’t measure ourselves against others; maybe that’s the fear, that we can actually look up to ourselves, that we can see ourselves in others.

What are some troubles you’ve experienced as a writer? What, or who, inspires you to write?