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.”
Today, as you see whitewashed images of a post-prison, unarmed, grandfatherly Mandela, please remember that he was someone who had the pride and courage to take up arms against his oppressor. Mandela fought in a guerilla war against white supremacy in South Africa, as did many others all across the world. Our own CIA alerted the SA authorities to Mandela’s location, which is what led to his 27 years behind bars and the medical condition which felled him today. Our government was responsible for that crime, and still holds our own anti-apartheid militants behind bars. So when you see Obama crying his crocodile tears later today remember that he would imprison a modern Mandela, that he arms the apartheid government of Israel, that he refuses to pardon those who fought against the corporations propping up the South African government here in the US, and that he has done everything he can to crush the kind of dissent that Mandela stood for.
— (via angry-hippo)
The English “please” is short for “if you please,” “if it pleases you to do this” — it is the same in most European languages (French si il vous plait, Spanish por favor). Its literal meaning is “you are under no obligation to do this.” “Hand me the salt. Not that I am saying that you have to!” This is not true; there is a social obligation, and it would be almost impossible not to comply. But etiquette largely consists of the exchange of polite fictions (to use less polite language, lies). When you ask someone to pass the salt, you are also giving them an order; by attaching the word “please,” you are saying that it is not an order. But, in fact, it is.
In English, “thank you” derives from “think,” it originally meant, “I will remember what you did for me” — which is usually not true either — but in other languages (the Portuguese obrigado is a good example) the standard term follows the form of the English “much obliged” — it actually does mean “I am in your debt.” The French merci is even more graphic: it derives from “mercy,” as in begging for mercy; by saying it you are symbolically placing yourself in your benefactor’s power — since a debtor is, after all, a criminal. Saying “you’re welcome,” or “it’s nothing” (French de rien, Spanish de nada) — the latter has at least the advantage of often being literally true — is a way of reassuring the one to whom one has passed the salt that you are not actually inscribing a debit in your imaginary moral account book. So is saying “my pleasure” — you are saying, “No, actually, it’s a credit, not a debit — you did me a favor because in asking me to pass the salt, you gave me the opportunity to do something I found rewarding in itself!
Words and phrases that have a conventionalized rather than a literal meaning are also known as phatic expressions: other examples are greetings, farewells, and basic checking in such as “how are you?” or “what’s up?”. It’s not that you can’t ask about someone’s actual well-being, but you need to use alternative phrases to do so because certain ones are conventionalized as greetings instead.
A white woman in my class said to me a couple of months ago, ‘I feel that Third World women hate me and that they are being racist; I’m being stereotyped, and I’ve never been a part of the ruling class.’ I replied, ‘Please, try to understand. Know our history. Know the racism of whites, how deep it goes. Know that we are becoming ever more intolerant of those people who let their ignorance be their excuse for their complacency, their liberalism, when this country (this world!) is going to hell in a handbasket. Try to understand that our distrust is from experience, and that our distrust is powerless. Racism is an essential part of the status quo, powerful, and continues to keep us down. It is a rule taught to all of us from birth. Is it no wonder that we fear there are no exceptions?
— Merle Woo, ”Letter to Ma” (via democracyoftouch)
White men are funny. Please know I love them. White men (and women) have slept in my bed and they’re lovely. But what amazes me is how much of our population does not see that most mainstream American media thoroughly explores the white male psyche: Indiana Jones, Little Miss Sunshine, Austin Powers, Sideways, Indecent Proposal, 500 Days of Summer, Harry Potter, Birth of a Nation…
I love all those movies. I don’t feel oppressed by them as much as I find more of the same type of movies uninteresting. It always cracks me up when this is brought up in dialogue, and you hear the war cry of “reverse racism!” I think it freaks some people out when they realize white men are no longer the center of the universe, and that many other varied, full, vibrant ways-of-being/living/thinking/loving exist outside of the narrow slice represented in mainstream movies. It’s also a bummer, though, because it perpetuates the zero-sum idea that voicing one experience automatically negates others. Just because there are resources (film festivals, grants, etc.) focused on developing cinematic voices outside of the straight-white-male paradigm, doesn’t mean there should be less of the straight-white man (which has been so generously covered in mainstream movies), just more that are not the straight-white man. Ideally, all voices can co-exist in mainstream media.
The corollary is since there is such a rich cinematic straight-white-man tradition, much of the thinking out there about how films should be constructed, is from that perspective. So if you are trying to find and develop your own voice, remember that the box you may be trying to think outside of is an entrenched, dusty, cement box that has existed for way too long. Find creative colleagues who are able to think outside of that box as well and can play with your ideas.
Ultimately, we live in a society that devalues the feminine experience. Not females necessarily, but feminine qualities that exist in men as well. Feminine qualities are often seen as “weak,” “irrelevant,” “complicated,” “nagging.” We also live in a society that does not acknowledge all the many colorful voices out there. It is sad that some folks still think empowerment of non-white people equals reverse racism. Or, they think Slumdog Millionaire was “enough, right?”
So my advice for women starting out on this journey is: Value Yourself. Know you have a right to a seat at the table just like everyone else. Seek out a community that nurtures your unique voice. It feels so good when fellow human beings understand and seek to empower your vision, rather than try to change and conform your art to their paradigm so they feel less uncomfortable.
— Rosylyn Rhee (http://agnesfilms.com/featured-filmmakers/rosylyn-rhee/)