dweeb-prince asked: what is your commentary
Like what is your expression supposed to convey?
After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.
She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.
Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.
Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.
And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,
With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.
They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.
Not everything is lost."
Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” (via awelltraveledwoman)
That’s not what I do, I don’t help people. Helping people implies that I feel bad for them, that I’m moved to help them because I think people are worse off than I am. Helping people means that I pretend not to see race, gender, class, sexuality, any factors that may skew somebody else’s opportunities. Helping people is taking credit for being a do-gooder, that the helper is the do-gooder, a hero, a savior.
I’d like to think I support people. I don’t teach, school, or dominate conversations and discussions with people. I’m trying to be in solidarity with people, and I want to be an ally to their struggles and their stories. Their stories and the oppression they face are theirs to tell, and if I have any sort of agency or privilege that allots people to listen to me and not them, then I want to use my voice to direct attention to them. But I don’t want to tell others like me what their experiences are. I want people to hear what they have to say. Coming out of their mouth. And not take any credit for the societal privileges that allow me to “help” people.
|Me:||Sometimes I wonder if that Starbucks guy intentionally profiled her as a girl with low self-esteem, or a not-so-pretty girl|
|Me:||And that's why he wrote it to her|
|Friend:||you would think that|
|Me:||BECAUSE THAT IS THE KIND OF WORLD WE LIVE IN|
|Me:||THESE COMPLIMENTS ARE LIKE VERBAL CHARITY HANDOUTS FOR THE SOCIETALLY PERCEIVED UGLY|
And people talked about me anyway
In February, I posted two pieces in Bed-Stuy on Tompkins and Halsey. These two pieces got the most attention of any pieces I’ve put up so far. Within a few days, someone had written his response to the work directly onto the posters. From there, a woman wrote a response to him. And it went on and, on with different hand-written comments creating this kind of interesting discussion. The pieces remained up until a week or so ago, when the phallic image was drawn. That’s when I decided to try to take them down.
The “Stop Telling Women to Smile” piece remained in tact enough for me to include it in the exhibition. I thought it was important to present in the show, so that people could view these written reactions.