Perigee

Gray Matter: Reading into Ageism

By Lisa Peet “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” This, for those who’ve never seen it, was the caption to Peter Steiner’s now-famous 1993 New Yorker cartoon. Even though the Internet had barely hit public consciousness at that point, the line struck a nerve. And no wonder: one of the great wonders of online life, in those days, was its anonymity. On the Internet, nobody knew what you looked like, how much you earned, where you grew up, or your level of education; nobody knew you were sitting home in your pajamas; and—famously—nobody knew you were a straight white guy. The Internet of the mid-’90s freed you to become anyone you wanted; it was the liberation of the keyboard. Writers, of course, have long appreciated the protection of being preceded by their words; the term nom de plume first showed up in the 19th century, a good 150 years before we had such things as user names. Many of them were women competing in a man’s world: the Georges Sand and Eliot, the Brontë sisters before they hit their stride, science fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr.—born Alice Bradley Shelton. And who (of a certain age) doesn’t remember the...
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Rethinking Utopia: An Interview with Rich Benjamin

Melody Nixon recently interviewed Rich Benjamin, journalist-adventurer and the author of Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey To The Heart Of White America. See more at The Common Online   MN: Living on the East Coast and in New York City in particular I find it so easy to make assumptions about what is happening “out there,” in the rest of America, in terms of everything, but especially race relations. Your book offers rich insight as you actually travelled throughout the country investigating what you call “Whitopias.” What are Whitopias? RB: There are a couple important, salient qualities of the communities I visited, which I call Whitopias. A Whitopia has to be whiter than the U.S. in general, i.e., right now the U.S. is about 69% white. A Whitopia has to be whiter than its respective region in the country, (east, south, west, Midwest), and it has to have had at least 6% growth between 2000 and 2008, and the majority of that growth has to have to come from white residents. And the final quality that is absolutely crucial to a Whitopia is that it has to have a special social charm, a je ne sais quoi, a special...
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The Men Who Left Were White

By Josie Originally posted on https://thetruefight.squarespace.com There are three things you should know. First: I’m not biracial. “What are you?” people ask, and they expect me to say something thrilling and tribal. I answer, but still they press. “Where are your ancestors from?” people ask, and they want answers that aren’t San Antonio and Wheeling, West Virginia. But that’s all I got. My story is both simple and untold. The bones of it, of me: I’m black, despite the skin that goes virtually translucent in the winter. Despite the thin unpredictable curls. My mom and dad are black, as are my grandparents. That’s all she wrote. That’s all there is, even as I write this sentence. My parents, usually liberal employers of nuance, have always been militant-clear about drawing that line. We aren’t biracial. When I tell people I’m black, they find it unsatisfying. “That’s no fun,” one girl joked to me recently. “I thought you were going to have a story.” Second: I’m 44% European, 49% African. Not exactly an equal split, but pretty damn close. I hear the same sentence twice. The first time from my mother. It’s Christmas in Georgia. Outside the clouds are unloading cold sleet,...
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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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Valentine's Series: Two Poems by Marina Blitshteyn

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.    Identity Love Poem   It’s not true that when I love you I don’t see race or ethnicity   To overlook it would be to ignore the structures that shaped you   Outside a bar in Buffalo some kids yell something at us from their car   It’s a little hurt but we say they wish they were as fly as us   In my favorite city you read Race Matters on the train back   Somewhere in Toronto couples astound me, you blame history   A little hurt but we both confess to loving this country after all   Here we’ve become accustomed to asking ourselves questions   What would our parents say? Do we have anything to declare?   How do we know each other? I mean really know each other   I want to see clearly how it felt All those lifetimes without me   I want all of the hurts to know And I want everybody to know it   So what else could I ask for? A million ordinary things together   A million ordinary...
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Valentine's Series: How Far Back? by Alexandra Watson

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. Our second piece is by Apogee Co-Editor-In-Chief, Alexandra Watson. You know those things your exes tell you, those things they say to break you down? Those curve balls they throw—too far inside the plate just to trick you, to throw you off guard—but meant to smash through something: splinter bone, knock you over? He says you’re too white for him. Correction: he says, his mother was right, you’re too white for him. He tells you you’re too white for him, and you wouldn’t expect to be insulted by something as ridiculous as that, but then you are.  After all, you weren’t all that insulted when he called you a cunt; it wasn’t that bad that time he said all your mutual friends took his side. But he says you’re too white, and your walls come apart. They crumble, they’re splintered, and now—there’s something that was that you can’t put back together, and all that’s left is cracked plaster on the floor. And the something that was is not the relationship, because you don’t give a fuck...
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Valentine's Series: Tongue-Tied (Untitled) by Sarah Thomas

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. Our first piece, Tongue-Tied (Untitled) by Sarah Thomas, was originally published in Issue 2.  I come to you as a scab picker. I was known for sitting alone after a grade school scuffle or a tumble off the jungle gym and picking off my scabs to watch the blood run. I was never sure if I did that to prove something to myself or just to make others watch me bleed. Whenever I have bounced ideas for essays off my boyfriend, he has often advised: Whatever you do, don’t talk about your preference for black men. You’ll make a lot of enemies. I hope he was underestimating all of us. This is what I’m scared to talk about. This is what I’ve spent near 30 years figuring out how to talk about. What I’m trying to say is, as a white woman from the South, throughout the years I was supposed to say: “Black” instead of “colored,” because “colored” reflects our history of ignorance. And then “African American,” instead of “black,” because “black” reflects our...
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