“Who Said It Was Simple” – Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde | Poetry Foundation
Audre Lorde (1934-1922); pic creds. poetryfoundation.org
There are so many roots to the tree of anger
that sometimes the branches shatter
before they bear. 

Sitting in Nedicks
the women rally before they march 
discussing the problematic girls 
they hire to make them free. 
An almost white counterman passes 
a waiting brother to serve them first
and the ladies neither notice nor reject
the slighter pleasures of their slavery. 
But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations. 

This poem, “Who Said It Was Simple” was published in Lorde’s third volume of poetry, From a Land where Other People Live in 1973. Some things to note about Lorde is that she was an American writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist. She described herself as “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet,” and dedicated her life and works to confronting and addressing injustices of racism, sexism, classism and homophobia. Furthermore, this poem was written during a time in which abortion was made legal (Roe vs. Wade 1973), and five years earlier, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and President Johnson expanded the Civil Rights act of 1964.

In this poem, Lorde scrutinizes those who define themselves as feminists but do not act when other groups are oppressed, and even benefit from the oppression. She portrays this in the first stanza with the “tree of anger,” for she is furious at the exclusivity of the so-called feminists who are sexist, racist, and homophobic. Her “tree of anger” has roots that go down to encompass hundreds, if not thousands, of years of oppression—denying basic human rights or protections just because of her race, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

The second part of the poem talks about her experience “sitting in Neidicks,” an East Coast chain restaurant, and listening to the white women talking about the non-white ‘girls’ that they employ to clean their houses and/or take care of their children, right before they go to a women’s rally where they march for women’s rights. They want equal rights yet they benefit from the oppression of the girls that they employ.

Lorde’s intersecting identities as a black, homosexual women make her more oppressed and each one pulls her to and fro to lead her to some sense of liberation, but she wonders “which me will survive / all these liberations.” The women’s movements seems to solely wants her to focus on women’s rights, while the civil rights movement wants her to focus on black rights. Either way, a part of her identity is denied.

Sources:

https://prezi.com/fek2r6_6drxm/who-said-it-was-simple/

https://poetryisnotaluxurysite.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/who-said-it-was-simple-by-audre-lorde-and-intersectionality/

PROTECT OUR ELDERS

Happy (late) Chinese New Year! 恭喜发财 (gong xi fa cai)! I hope that everybody’s new year will be prosperous and full of luck.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes have run rampant, rising by 1900%. However, these attacks haven’t been publicized and aren’t talked about in the media. This has to change. With Lunar New Year, Asians were specifically targeted in violent attacks and robberies across America. The link that I posted down below includes a list of anti-Asian hate crimes and attacks that happened in two weeks. The link below that includes more attacks and a list of ways to help.

Another way to help is by supporting Chinatown! A ton of small, family-run businesses have taken a toll because of COVID-19 and would love to be your takeout for tonight. Below is a link to a company that provides relief efforts to small businesses in Chinatown NYC.

https://www.instagram.com/sendchinatownlove/

Also, I have recently opened a shop on instagram called @/_creationsbyjenny where I make crocheted creations (linked below)! If you buy one of my bao plushies for $15 (not including shipping), I will donate the profits to Stop AAPI Hate which tracks and responds to xenophobia and anti-Asian hate crimes. Just send me a DM on instagram and specify that you want to donate to Stop AAPI, and I will make you one!

Another way to help is to share what is happening and ways to help to anybody and everybody. The world needs to know.

one of my baos! check out my insta to order one

The Art of the Fang People

Happy #BlackHistoryMonth everybody! This week’s post was inspired by a reading I had in my English Class. We had been reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad which has been criticized for its racist remarks against Africans. One of the most notable critics of this book was Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. In 1975, he spoke in a lecture, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” about Conrad’s novella and called it “an offensive and deplorable book” that dehumanized Africans.

One of the things that Achebe talked about in this lecture was about the revolution of twentieth century art. This revolution was due to the influence of African art, particularly the masks of the Fang people. A mask that was made by the Fang people had been given to French painter Maurice de Vlaminck who proceeded to show it to Derain, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse who were all greatly influenced by the style. This event marks the start of cubism and the infusion of new life into European art. Picasso in particular blended the highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures with post-Impressionist styles. References to some of the African masks he had seen are perpetuated throughout his works.

These artists did not know the original meaning and function of the Central African sculptures. Going further, Picasso even denied that he had been inspired by African art. Credit must be given where credit’s due; we must celebrate the works of the Fang people.

Image result for bieri sculpture
Male Reliquary Figure (Nlo Bieri); Source: metmuseum.org

The Fang people practice a cult devoted to ancestor lineages also known as the bieri, whose aim is to both protect themselves from the deceased and to recruit their aid in matters of daily life. The wooden sculptures were influenced by the style of the bieri, or ancestor sculpture. The bieri would be consulted before an important event, like when the village was to be relocated, before going hunting, fishing, or to war. These figures exemplify all the qualities that the Fang admire in people—tranquility, vitality, and the ability to hold opposites in balance. In the above picture, this is shown through the juxtaposition between the “large head of an infant and the fully developed body of an adult, and its static symmetrical pose and passive expressionless face are counterbalanced by the tension of bulging muscles (source: metmuseum.org).” These attributes also emphasizes the group’s continuity with its ancestor and with the three classes of the society: the unborn, the living, and the dead.

Here are some ways to celebrate the rest of Black History Month! Remember, that learning and further educating ourselves about Black History is every day, 365 days a year!

Sources:

http://www.zyama.com/fang/pics..htm

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aima/hd_aima.htm

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/312334

https://www.pablopicasso.org/africanperiod.jsp

#BlackHistoryMonth

Hello World!

February 1st marks the start of Black History Month! Black History Month is an annual celebration of Black achievements and contributions to society. We celebrate Black History month because the contributions of Black Americans have been downplayed, overlooked, and misrepresented. This month, and every day of the year, should be spent celebrating the achievements of Black inventors, scientists, activists, civil rights leaders, artists, musicians, and more.

Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)
Image Cred: The BlackPast

To justify the injustice done the Negro, individuals…resort to malicious falsehood in saying that the Negro is an inferior race which has never developed a civilization…During Negro History Week attention is invited to the Negro in all parts of the world showing that even when in bondage the record made is not to be despised

Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950)

The first person I want to highlight this month is historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson, known as the Father of Black History. Born to formerly enslaved parents who could not read, Dr. Woodson worked on a family farm and in West Virginia coal mines while learning sporadically. He attended high school during his 20s and and obtained his BA degree from the University of Chicago and received his PhD from Harvard University.

Through the years, Dr. Woodson realized that the world needed a better understanding of the contributions done by black people onto society to counter racist misperceptions about their abilities. He devoted himself to teaching about Black History by various means. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which presently is known as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and created the first journal of black history, The Journal of African American History, alongside his colleagues.

He started the first Negro History Week in 1926 to ensure students would learn Black history. Schools and communities across America held events celebrating Black history. Teachers revised lesson plans to include Black history in their curriculums. From there, it grew exponentially into Black History Month which officially made its start in 1976. He had chosen February for the observance because February 12th was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and February 14th was the accepted birthday of Frederick Douglass.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson died in 1950, but his legacy still lives on. Help promote his legacy by educating yourself on Black history! I will be including links to museums and online resources that might interest you. Also, I will be including a link to a list of documentaries about Black history.

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/01/us/history-of-black-history-month-trnd/index.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/reference/holidays/courageous-historian-fought-make-black-history-month/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=social::src=twitter::cmp=editorial::add=twp20210201history-BHMhistorian::rid=&sf242506996=1

Transcript of Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem – The Hill We Climb

At 22 years old, Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet and a National Youth Poet Laureate.
When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promised glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

To support and read more of Gorman’s Work, buy one of her books through this link!

Today, January 27th, marks one week since President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration ceremony (January 20, 2021). One prominent event was the recitation of “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman. Gorman finished this poem the night after pro-Trump rioters sieged the Capitol building. Regarding her poem in an interview with the New York Times, she said, “In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.” It was written to call for unity and collaboration among the American people.

#MLKDay

True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)

Today, the third Monday of January, January 18th, marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day and honors the life and accomplishments of Dr. King. In the face of oppression, he never gave up in the country that he called home. The celebration of this day reminds us that the fight is not over, and we must advocate for equal rights and opportunities of all racial ethnic groups alike. MLK Day symbolizes progress and unity, for together, our actions will spark change and hope for the future. Through the history of Martin Luther King Jr., we need to realize that we have suffered through times of trials and tribulations and have emerged victorious.

On this day, I want to encourage all of you to pursue some sort of act that will honor his name safely and hygienically. Whether it be from sending a letter to your representative to petition for a new Voting Rights Act or participating in webinars like University of Michigan’s Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium, I want you to help someone today.

Some examples that I took from https://bideninaugural.org/day-of-service/ are

  • creating cards for patients recovering from COVID-19
  • letter writing to seniors in nursing homes/having a conversation with the elderly
  • knitting blankets for the homeless
  • donating blood/bone marrow (especially since Black and African American patients are among the least likely to find a match for bone marrow (only a 23% chance!))

Also, please try to learn about Coretta Scott King, MLK’s wife. She was the architect of the King Legacy and founder of the King Center. To learn more about her, please visit this site!

RACIAL BIAS IN MEDICINE PT. 1 – PULSE OXIMETRY MEASUREMENT

Hello world! I have returned! I will try to revert back to my weekly Wednesday posts, but I figured this one was long overdue already. This post will not be the last time you see this topic on my blog because I feel that it should be talked about more. I, myself, am not too educated about it, so I wanted to educate myself and you guys about it.

Upon going to the doctor recently, I noticed a new medical device used on me alongside the typical sphygmomanometer and stethoscope. It was a pulse oximeter (below is a picture of it).

Sammons Preston Finger Pulse Oximeter | Performance Health
pulse oximeter

A pulse oximeter is a device that is typically clipped onto your finger to measure your oxygen saturation level. It can rapidly detect small changes in how efficiently oxygen is being carried to the extremities furthest from the heart like the legs and the arms. It uses infrared light refraction to measure how well oxygen is binding to your red blood cells. The device shines two wavelengths of light through the skin of the finger to detect the color of blood.

One of the main diagnostic criteria for COVID-19 is shortness of breath and low oxygen levels. COVID-19 enters the body through the respiratory system which causes direct injury to a person’s lungs via inflammation and pneumonia which leads to a decrease in the person’s oxygen saturation levels. Pulse oximeters are also helpful for detecting people who have “happy hypoxia” which is when the person with COVID-19 appears well but has dangerously low oxygen levels.

Because of the nature of how pulse oximeters obtain readings, they can be faulty if a person has circulatory issues with poor blood flow to the extremities (cold hands, intrinsic vascular disease or Raynaud’s phenomenon). In addition, dark colored nail polish can distort the readings. Also, the color of your skin also distorts readings. Researchers found that the device was three times more likely to give black patients false readings. Melanin which is “a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin, and iris of the eye in people” absorbs lights in those wavelengths which causes errors within the readings.

Inaccurate oxygen level readings can also be the difference between going on necessary supplemental oxygen or not. Medicare requires you to have maximum of 88% of oxygen saturation and the test saying so or they will not cover the supplemental oxygen. So, people of color who are not getting an accurate reading because of the error of the device may not be put on lifesaving oxygen and could suffer brain cell damage due to the lower oxygen levels in their blood.

While researching, I stumbled upon some stories told by others about how the pulse oximeters had given them drastically inaccurate results. On Instagram, user @/nadirahyas said that she “literally had liquid in my diaphragm and couldn’t take a full breath, but according to the machine my oxygen levels were at 98%.” A normal reading is between 95-100.

Though there have been improvements to the device, there is always still work ahead. The majority of study subjects that were used were typically light skinned and that caused a skew in the data. If you are wanting to test out a new device, medically or not, remember to take into account a wide variety of people.

Sources:

https://www.houstonmethodist.org/blog/articles/2020/aug/can-an-oximeter-help-detect-covid-19-at-home/

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2029240

https://www.ktvu.com/news/widely-used-medical-device-has-higher-error-rate-in-darker-skin-study-suggest

oxford language definition of melanin

HELP SAVE THE ARCTIC REFUGE!

There are only ~4 days until oil companies will bid on destroying the arctic, harming the land of indigenous peoples (the Gwich’in) and animals (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge houses 200 species of birds).

In early December, the Trump administration announced it would auction off drilling rights in the US Arctic. By doing this, it puts an entire habitat in peril, a habitat which animals like the porcupine caribou, polar bears, and whales call home. It will also hinder the waters that Arctic animals and indigenous communities depend upon. Alaskan Natives rely on the caribou that migrate to this land, and by drilling into the land, the caribous’ route will change and leave people hungry.

Also, drilling releases tons of carbon dioxide which is terrible as it becomes poisonous when there is too much of it in the air. Moreover, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and will cause more thermal energy to be trapped by the atmosphere causing the planet to become warmer than it would be naturally. The arctic is already warming at 2 times the rate of the rest of the earth. That rate might double, or triple if we do not do anything to stop it. So, please sign the petition below!

https://www.protectthearctic.org/take-action-to-protect-the-arctic-national-wildlife-refuge

PROTECT THE ARCTIC, SIGN THIS PETITION! IT WILL ONLY TAKE A COUPLE OF MINUTES AND YOUR IMPACT WILL BENEFIT THE WORLD IN THE FUTURE TO COME.

HOW CAN I HELP?

  1. SIGN THE PETITION
  2. SEND IN A HANDWRITTEN LETTER TO THIS ADDRESS: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS‒R7‒ES‒2020‒0129, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: PRB/3W, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.
  3. SPREAD AWARENESS USING THE HASHTAG #PROTECTTHEARCTIC

WHO IS ELIZABETH PERATROVICH?

Elizabeth Peratrovich, Who Fought for America's Earliest  Anti-Discrimination Law, to Become 1st Alaska Native Featured on U.S.  Currency | KTLA
Elizabeth Peratrovich; pic creds: KTLA

Asking you to give me equal rights implies that they are yours to give. Instead, I must demand that you stop trying to deny me the rights all people deserve.

Elizabeth Peratrovich (1911-1958)

Today’s (Wednesday, December 30) Google Doodle honors Elizabeth Peratrovich a civil rights activist who advocated and fought for equality for Native Alaskans. During the 1940s, Peratrovich and her husband, both members of the Tlingit nation, were instrumental in the passing of Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945 which was the first state or territorial anti-discrimination law enacted in the United States in the 20th century. As Alaskan Natives, Peratrovich and her husband encountered discrimination while trying to secure housing and trying to gain access to public facilities; at the time, it wasn’t uncommon to see door signs that read “No Natives Allowed,” and upon seeing one with her husband, they wrote a letter to Alaska’s governor and gained his support.

The Act was proposed earlier but failed to pass; however, on February 5, 1945 following years of perseverance, a second anti-discrimination bill was brought before the Alaska Senate. Both Peratrovichs, as the Presidents of the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood, advocated and testified for the bill. She famously spoke in response to territorial senator Allen Shattuck, who had earlier asked “Who are these people, barely out of savagery, who want to associate with us whites, with 5,000 years of recorded civilization behind us?,”

I would not have expected that I, who am barely out of savagery, would have to remind gentlemen with five thousand years of recorded civilization behind them, of our Bill of Rights.

Elizabeth Peratrovich when testifying for the Anti-Discriminatory Act of 1945

The Senate voted 11-5 in favor of the Act. The bill was signed into law in 1945, nearly 20 years before the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 making Alaska the first territory or state to end “Jim Crow.” In honor of Peratrovich’s legacy, the Alaska Legislature declared that February 16 (the day in 1945 on which the Anti-Discrimination Act was signed) as “Elizabeth Peratrovich Day.”

To be honest, I had no idea who was Elizabeth Peratrovich until I saw the Google Doodle for today. But, after I researched more about her, I knew I had to share this activist who was a catalyst for equality! If you want to learn more about her and her legacy, I would recommend checking out today’s Google Doodle and some of the other sites that I will be linking down below!

https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-elizabeth-peratrovich

Also, I am sorry that I have been slacking with posts recently. I will be coming out of my hiatus soon and reverting back to my regular Wednesday posts! I have been caught up with applications and finals, but they will soon be over. I have many ideas for more posts, so please look forward to them!