infinity on repeat

"It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”

Tag: racism

Dear sororities, stop the segregation.

I wrote this for my college’s newspaper last semester but haven’t submitted it. I think I will now.

Freshman year, a friend of mine went to an interest meeting about sororities. A recruitment counselor approached her to confirm that she was there for the panhellenic recruitment interest session, and she said yes. The counselor responded,  “Well you are welcome to stay, but there are historically black sororities that you may be more interested in…” My friend was offended and taken-aback. She understood the recruitment counselor’s comment as a way of saying “these sororities are actually just for white people”.  She was aware that there were historically black sororities, but she didn’t think that her race would determine that those were her only option. Because of this experience, she decided to remain independent from Greek life.

I, on the other hand, failed to see the larger implications of this recruitment counselor’s comment. I reasoned that this girl was just prejudiced and close-minded, but that this surely could not represent four entire groups of women at a liberal institution. In a way, I was right: the sorority I joined, as well as all of the others, hold themselves to high moral and social responsibility and do not condone any kind of discrimination. However, the queasiness that I felt when my friend told me this story should have immediately evoked a suspicion of the Greek system as a whole. But the fact that our Greek life is largely racially segregated didn’t hit me until I experienced rush from the inside of my sorority house sophomore year. I felt an unbearable guilt for participating, so I quit.

While I don’t regret quitting, I do regret that I never voiced this concern to my sorority before turning in my pin. It was easy to say “This isn’t what I want to do anymore”, or even point out that the authority positions seemed to be dominated by one group of friends with similar outlooks. What if I had said “I feel like our group is marginalizing people based on race”? I’m sure some girls would have been deeply offended, but as my friend’s story illustrates, others have been deeply offended as well. If we could channel this pain into understanding, maybe the conversation could turn into a restructuring of our social groups on campus in a way that is less alienating. No matter how progressive minded the members, a sorority represents the history of elitism and the isolation of whiteness. The “historical” in historically black sororities is reference to an era of overt discrimination and prejudice, which we are confirming in our collective memory when we keep these divisions alive.

This isn’t to say that historically black sororities and fraternities need to be done away with by any means—this is to say that each person has their own history, and the more we can learn about the wide range of human experience, the better. We need to look at our actions, our generalizations, the groups we use to identify ourselves, and our language, and ask ourselves if these things are promoting equality and justice. If not, we need to address the injustices that we fuel.

I met own realization of injustice with cowardice, and nothing changed. But those of you who are members of Greek organizations hold the possibility for reform. Look around you during meetings: does everyone look, speak, and act just like you do? Are you challenged by the people you surround yourself with, or does your world seem to be populated by people that always agree with your ideas? To surround yourself with people is to surround yourself with opportunities to see things in a new light. If we are going to have large groups on our campus that rule social life, I think it is in our best interest to abolish the divide. Is it so farfetched that the historically black sororities be given lodges alongside the others? Could we then, perhaps, have an all-inclusive rush so that every student is given the same opportunity to chose regardless of race? Perhaps that simple change could one day lead to sororities with a wide variety of ethnicities, races, and nationalities represented—and we could sincerely tell incoming freshman that Greek life at Millsaps really is different.

a wasteland

found poem. twitter cycle. a timeline still . no end
quite yet .
 )

#Ibelieve some people should
have to pass a test to even work fast
food. You have to actually read
the order…Look Darnisha, I’m sorry
you probably graduated from Antonelli
College and now work at Byram City
Hall, but there is no need to be sassy.
When I see I’s dotted with heart
my initial thought: a fifteen year old
African American female wrote this.

God, white people are so annoying.
Sometimes I find myself making fun
of white bitches with my African
American friends and I think I’m okay
with that. Sometimes when black people
say things, I have this sudden white
girl urge to say Amen in a really
southern African American voice.

Lookah’ here old skank, I’m sorry you’re
pushing 40 years of age and working
at a tanning bed, but there is no need
to be bitter with me. When you scramble
to lock your doors at a gas station in south
Jackson because “brothas” start walking
towards your car. When I hear a rap song,
I think the lyrics are shit. When wanna-be
thugz tweet the lyrics, I still think they are shit.

#I’mNotRacistBut I never leave my valuables
alone around black people. #I’mNotRacistBut
it’s a job requirement at Dunkin’ Donuts
to be as dark as the coffee. #I’mNotRacistBut:
What does “Real Talk” mean? Competency
isn’t his first language #I’mNotRacistBut why
do black people’s relationships work so
differently than white people’s? #statutoryrape

I cry about 9/11 , who doesn’t? Fuck
those Arab scum, #I’mNotRacistBut
how could they, those heartless pigs?
Fuck you Bin Laden. I will never get on a plane
with people that are not American.
Sorry, #I’mNotRacistBut you never know…

Threats of another attack tomorrow.
I’m not racist but Muslims
should not be allowed out
of their houses. #thisisamerica
I’m not racist but this Indian guy
beside me smells like… Oh god!
I’m not racist but black people
are ignorant and uncivilized,
that’s why you cant ever invite
them places. I’m not racist but I hate
when white people sing
the star spangled banner.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Shall I at least set my lands in order?
London bridge is falling down falling down falling down
Poi s’ascose nel foco che gli affina
Quando fiam uti chelidon
O swallow swallow
Le Prince d’Aquitaine à la tour abolie
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymos mad againe.
Datta.  Dayadhvam.  Damyata.
                            Shantih      shantih     shantih