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Undocumented and Employed: My Teenage Years

by Veralyn Williams Like many high school overachievers, I was such a planner. During my senior year at Dewitt Clinton High School most of my “plans” required a bit of cash flow. There was spirit-week, when every day had a dress code theme like “pajama day” or “twin day,” and I had to buy all new outfits for “the pictures.” Then there were the memorabilia expenses: our yearbook, senior jersey, class of ’04 poster-sized picture, etc. Of course, there was prom. I needed to pay my share of the limo, but more importantly, get a dress, shoes, my after-party outfit, and my hair and nails weren’t going to do themselves. Doing all of this was life or death to me. Though now nine years later, I confess I have no idea where those pictures or that senior jersey is today. I was brought to America from Sierra Leone at six months old. And being the realistic African child that I was, I knew the bank of Mom & Dad would not be entertaining these ventures, so I NEEDED a job. The issue, however, was that at 17 years old I still had no legal status in this country–so, no, McDonalds...
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Poetry As Class Privilege: Words Inspired by Audre Lorde

By Christopher Soto So a couple days ago was Audre Lorde’s 80th birthday. Yay! And I’ve been reading/meditating on some of her works, such as ‘Poetry Is Not a Luxury’ — which is an essay filled with knowledge such as: “…for it is through poetry that we give name to those ideas which are, until the poem, nameless and formless-about to be birthed, but already felt.” AND “… within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive.” Damn. And I have been thinking about such quotes, as they pertain to my current MFA life. As I look at my student debt climb tens of thousands of dollars. As I struggle to find a job which would help me alleviate such debt. Or maybe find some money to invest in my poetry career? I read a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA called ‘Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community.’ My eyes scan a line that states, “transgender people of color had an unemployment rate of four times the national average.” … But I don’t identify as transgender. I identify as a gender-fluid jot@. And so, what does this study mean...
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Valentine's Series: The Sound Of It by Melody Nixon

In honor of Valentine’s Day, all this week on our blog we’ll be posting pieces from our January 31st reading on intercultural dating and relationships. This is the final post in the series, by Editor-At-Large Melody Nixon. “Did you see that piece last night about the titties? That whole TV3 show?” Wiremu keeps his voice low so’s not to get Mr. Bun’s attention. “Fuckin’ all shapes and sizes, eh bro. Fuck. Some HUGE ones.” The Maori boys always sit in a row behind me and my mostly Pakeha—white—friends in Science. The tall desks are rigid in rational rows, we can’t turn to really talk. We just listen. The Maori boys sit in a row behind us and look at the outlines of our backs. We turn around sometimes, when Mr. Bun isn’t looking, when Mr. Bun isn’t yelling. We want to check out their faces, see their eyes. Argue with them, ’cause they’re boys. “At least have the dignity,” says Magnolia, who’s sitting next to me and is taking a moment to try out feminism, “at least have the dignity to call them breasts,” she says to Wiremu. She’s fifteen, we’re all fifteen. “Well fuck, breasts then,” says Wiremu, and...
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