“Beware, my body and my soul, beware above all of crossing your arms and assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of griefs is not a proscenium, and a man who wails is not a dancing bear.”

from Notebook of a Return to the Native Land by Aimé Césaire

Kylie Warkentin, Editor-in-Chief: Something I’ve been thinking about recently is how easy it is to live a life of apathy. As globalized and dislocated as we are to one another, we’re also inundated with information about everything and everyone at every turn, and sometimes you’ll – I’ll – only recognize a place or a people because I’ve read an article headline describing something terrible. But, as Aimé Césaire thornily reminds us here, we cannot choose apathy in these moments – and apathy is a choice, just as empathy is a choice. Abstraction is easy and sometimes inescapable, but we cannot be spectators and simultaneously claim to be a community.

But they’ll never have you

It’s always been bigger than this…

We love ourselves politically

It’s rebellious

from Unmoved (A Black Woman Truth) by Ayoni

Christie Basson, Managing Editor and Website Co-Editor: In a beautiful statement on releasing this song, Ayoni mentioned that the album cover is a photo of her at three years old, her “last year of innocence.” By the age of four, she would be informed by classmates that they didn’t want to play with her because of her skin colour. In a world where identities are policed (metaphorically and literally), to love oneself politically is the most radical stance you can take. Relearning how to love yourself after losing childhood’s innocence isn’t easy for anyone, but I take heart from these words and remind myself that the world is a better place when we embrace our identities in the face of institutional, societal, and internal pressures to conform. Most importantly, we must learn to love others politically, to make rebellion with our defiance in accepting each other.

“You are my son, Dantès,” exclaimed the old man. “You are the child of my captivity . . . God has sent you to me to console, at one and the same time, the man who could not be a father, and the prisoner who could not get free.”

from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Stephanie Pickrell, Website Co-Editor: Best known as an immensely popular French author of the 19th century, Alexandre Dumas was also biracial – a fact that was skipped in the introduction to the copy of The Count of Monte Cristo I once borrowed from my high school’s library. This quote is taken from one of my favorite parts, when the hero Edmond Dantès, spending grueling years in prison without end, learns of the treasure that will eventually transform him into the Count of Monte Cristo. The quote reminds me not just of transformation, but of family, acceptance, and the promise of success to those who help others.

“This was love: a string of coincidences that gathered significance and became miracles.”

from Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Vanessa Simerskey, Marketing and Design Editor: Especially now, I can’t help but feel so lucky to be alive, to be where I am and to have and be surrounded by the kind of love that fills you up. I especially like that Adichie uses the word “gathered” because it shows that after accumulation of time, experiences and emotions can come together all at once to make you realize that you had a miracle sitting there right in front of you. This quote helps me see how the coincidences that make up my life, that at times make me feel alone or make me feel so mad at the world, might just turn into some beautiful kind of a miracle. 

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change… I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”

– Dr. Angela Davis

Megan Snopik, Website Writer and Prose Board: I really like this quote from Angela Davis because it really hits home a message of collectivity and inspiration in a time where activism can seem so daunting. There are so many violences in the world today, and as students it can be very easy to remove yourself from the struggles we read, write and hear about, this quote urges us to consider why we accept these things and structures and instead work to change lived experiences for the better. 

“Reading is everything, and although you already know some things, you need to read to get those things out of you.”

– Nas, in an Ask Men Interview

Abdallah Hussein, Website Writer: Nas is one of my favorite rap artists, and he is known for having several rhyme books. Before and during his career he was a voracious writer – a quality he attributed to reading. Not many rap artists discuss the writing process of their songs, so seeing Nas being upfront about it all and attributing a large part of it to reading makes me admire him even more. Reading’s benefits can now be seen in music, along with all the other mediums of art. 

“None of the beaten end up how we began. / A poem is a gesture toward home.”

from “Duplex” in The Tradition by Jericho Brown

Emma Allen, Poetry Board: In this poem, Brown recalls memories from his childhood: some of them clearly sources of trauma. “Duplex” recounts the harsh beatings Brown received from his father and the sounds of his mother weeping. I chose to include this last stanza of “Duplex” because I find that it speaks to the long-term effects which trauma can enact on an individual, especially if these events occur in the formative years of one’s childhood. Furthermore, I believe Jericho Brown’s sentiment in these last lines is especially important to keep in mind in all of our interactions with others, as often people are the product of circumstances beyond their control.

Posted by:hothouselitjournal

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