Out of Many, One

When I think about women, the first person that I think about is my mother. As a young woman, in old video tapes. Complaining about making dinner. Me; laying on her stomach, watching TV comfortably on her bed.

Then my grandmother; painting oil on canvas. My sister; reading her favorite book. I think about my three cousins; playing cards and screaming at my brother “play faster!”

I think about the girls on my dorm room floor. Loud. Obnoxious. Colorful. So much of everything; all at once. I think about the woman that cleans the halls in my dormitory. The woman that makes my coffee at Starbucks. The woman that sits on the sidewalk brooding over a cigarette like a dragon with the eyes of a child. I think about the women who scream at me as I pass on the street about ‘saving the children’ and the ones that paint themselves with their own choice. Sometimes I think about the girls you never think about. You never want too. Becuase it’s too horrible.

If you ask any woman on the street what ‘womanhood’ actually means, you will never quite find the same answer — and yet you will at the same time. You’ll get the nervous laugh. Period jokes. Sex. Marriage. Kids; the decision to not have them. Every culture, religion, and race have something different that proclaims “this is what a woman is” for the whole wide world to see.

And yet, Womanhood isn’t definitive. It’s flexible but tougher than leather. It is so much and nothing at all. That’s the beauty of it all. Out of a sea of faces, somehow, we all look the same. We all want the same things. Happiness. Freedom. Sucess (whatever that means for you). It’s the way that we choose to get there, from our pasts to the present, and the events of our lives that make us different.

That’s really what it’s all about.

The Women’s March on Washington is about difference. It’s about accepting all women of size, shape, and color — but also recognizing that it is about being the same. There is so much to womanhood. The definition truly lies in being absolutely everything; all at once.

Out of Many, One.

Say Her Name: It’s Time to Respect Ethnic Names

Photograph by Kathryn Poe

“Have you heard from them?”

I clanked my fork on the table and it fell off the corner of my plate. I was struggling to hide my irritation. I knew what was coming.

“Dr. Iel-Eeliki should have called by now,”

I looked at my father and corrected my doctors name — a Pakistani immigrant. My father giggled like a child, said it incorrectly again, and continued eating.

That’s when I left the dinner table.

Over the course of the last two years, this doctor — this man — had spent hours studying literature just to keep me alive. Yet, my father couldn’t even take a couple of seconds to learn how to say his name.

This isn’t an uncommon occurrence. Growing up, I constantly listened while my white classmates mocked and butchered black, hispanic, and other ethnic names.

“Who would go through the pain of childbirth for 9 months just to name the baby Laquisha?”

“Why would you name your child Mohammad? This is America.”

“Your name is Pablo what?”

“How am I supposed to pronounce that?”

There is power in a name. Whether we like it or not, it is one of the most important identifiers in our lives. Entire brands are built on million dollar names like Kardashian and Trump. Barack Obama has been accused of links to terrorism just for having the middle name Hussein. When the newest Disney princess, Moana, proclaims in the movie“I am Moana” she is not simply claiming herself. She is claiming the weight and importance of her culture.

I am Kathryn Poe.

I am.

Think about that.

I understand that names are difficult — I myself am terrible at pronunciation — but they are important. Names are representative of culture and family history. When an ethnic name is ‘dumbed down’ for an American speaker, something beautiful is lost. American culture should absorb, not reject, diversity in every form. How can we argue that we, as a society, provide fair representation if we can’t even try to get a name right?

“It’s just too hard.”

Racism is a subtle beast.

If Tomi Lahren can call out Seal on Twitter for mispronouncing her name and get the full support of conservative America, then I expect them to defend Laquisha too.

Violence Against White America Exists. Oppression against White America Does Not. Here’s Why:

“THIS IS A HATE CRIME!”

I read, scrolling through Twitter when I should have been in bed. I had been watching videos of baby otters for about 15 minutes, and I was starting to transition into puppies when the headline first caught my attention.

#BLMKiddnappings

I was automatically interested, and it didn’t take me very long to find more information about it online as details developed. I watched videos and read the information in horror, and followed the story as it developed into the next day. Automatically, I agreed that what was done, was in fact, a hate crime. It was horrific and an act of violence that should certainly be labeled as such. But as I read the comments, and followed the hashtag as it developed on Twitter, I also noticed another common trend.

The incident was quickly labeled by some online as more proof of what some refer to as ‘reverse racism’ and that the oppression of white America. The ‘violence’ of movements like #BlackLivesMatter. This, of course, isn’t the first publicized incident of violence against white Americans. After the election, a video surfaced of a man being forced out of his car and beaten for apparently supporting Donald Trump. In the days following the incident, it was constantly brought up to me in conversation whenever I spoke with dismay about the apparent rise in violence against minorities after the election.

“They’re attacking us too. There’s violence on both sides.”

This is true. No one is arguing that there have not been punches thrown on both sides of the isle. However, there’s a couple of important points to consider before jumping onto the ‘reverse racism’ bandwagon and claiming that this justifies the existence of white oppression.

Simply: violent action is not inherently oppressive. Sometime’s violence is violence. Sometimes it’s violence against the perceived oppressor. Oppression is the action of constant harm to a minority, or the ability to put restrictions in place that limit the actions or ability of a people. The truth is that no white man in America can ever say that he was kicked out of a job, home, or religious institution for being white. Yes — in today’s world, it’s easy to feel like White people are constantly being demonized. Yes — ugly stereotypes exist about Trump voters. But the objective of a racial discrimination is discrimination against of those who do not hold power and maintaining the power of those that do. Simple. Violence against those who are perceived to hold power can not be racism for that simple fact. It is also not an oppressive action if the people being acted against are apart of what is traditionally the elite or more fortunate.

In the end, what happened to that young man was wrong and disturbing. He was an innocent victim of a hate crime targeted at a white person. But white America is far from oppressed — and that’s not going to change anytime soon.