bibimbapsheikh
My grandmother’s name is Sala
Sa-la
A hard L- the kind where your tongue has to push against the back of your front two teeth
My grandfather’s name was Mustafa
But we always called him Tati
Ta-tee
They grew up in the same village
And played together until the age that boys and girls are separated to learn their roles
My grandmother retreated to her father’s house, learning to cook and clean
And my grandfather started going to school
My grandmother blushes when she admits to me that she used to sneak up to the roof of her house when dawn came
Just to see my grandfather walking to school, books clutched against his chest
Every morning, him and the sun
It seemed to her that the sun rose with him,
That it could only be coaxed eastward if he pulled it with him
My grandmother married the boy who pulled the sun up for her every day
And they had six children
Seven, if you count the one who died before his first birthday cake could be made
My grandfather was, as they say, “ahead of his time”
He was an intelligent and forward-thinking academic living in Communist times
His children came home from school each afternoon singing songs about the benevolent nature of their leader
Tito belongs to us and we belong to Tito, they hummed
But when Tito died, the tides changed
And when my grandfather spoke up opposing the nationalistic movement against Albanians- which would one day grow into full-fledged ethnic cleansing-
He didn’t make it home from work
And my grandmother wondered how to explain ‘political prisoner’ to her children
One night, months after my grandfather’s disappearance,
My grandmother saw a blue-eyed stranger trudging up the village hill
In his hands- a note scrawled in my grandfather’s handwriting
Sell everything. Meet me in Rome.
So she did
She sold everything, kissed her weeping relatives goodbye
And trudged across Europe with her children
In Rome, a reunion
We’re going to America, my grandfather said
We’re refugees, he said
America- the word was bulky in my grandmother’s mouth on that sundrenched day in Rome
And even now she can’t quite wrap her tongue around it
Amer-eek, she said
Amer-eek, their children mimicked in high-pitched voices Amer-eek!
My mother, an 8-year old pig-tailed refugee in Rome
On her way to Amer-eek
New York City, to be precise
Their first house was right off of Ditmas Avenue in Brooklyn
A crumbling 3-family home shared with other Albanian refugees
Where, during that first year, English was spoken so rarely that you could almost forget you’d left home
The house was right underneath the Cortelyou Road subway station
Every time the trains rumbled past, the walls of the house shook and trembled and my grandmother prayed under her breath
My grandmother- a woman who gave birth to seven children and raised six of them
But never learned to read
Every morning she sent her children to school, a place she would never set foot in, a mystical land where knowledge and learning were the status quo
They came home speaking English, which my grandmother was glad for only so that they could translate for her at the grocery store or the doctor’s office
My grandfather worked days in a factory and spent his nights smoking and reading about the land that he’d left behind
As his sons and daughters grew into young men and women,
Their old country smoldered-
A fire quietly growing
It would spread soon, my grandfather knew
It wouldn’t be long before the name of his country became famous for all the wrong reasons
Blasted out of radios, smeared across CNN
Serbian forces move to Kosovo
Ethnic cleansing
Genocide

But that wasn’t until the ‘90s
And in the decade before his country was ripped apart by misplaced nationalism,
My grandfather sent my 18-year old mother back home
Go to college, he said, get a degree
Meet a nice boy
, my grandmother said, get married
She did both
And when she finally returned to America a couple of years later,
It was with my father and oldest sister in tow
My parents made their own home in America in the mid-80s
By 1985, my second sister made her appearance-
the first of the Latifi’s to be born in America
Meanwhile, my father was studying for his medical boards and his ESL class at the same time
And my mother was raising my sisters in the bustle of Brooklyn
The 80’s faded and in the first year of the 90’s, my brother joined our family
My father named him Kushtrim, which means battle cry
And was fitting because as my brother was taking his first steps,
Our Bosnian neighbors were being brought to their knees
By the time the war spread from Bosnia to Kosovo,
I was 5 years old and living in Virginia with my family
In a sprawling brick house surrounded by a lush green lawn that my father mowed every Sunday
Just like a real American
But the news was on every hour of every day
And some of my earliest memories are of peeking over the living room couch,
Straining to see what was happening in the country where my family started-
Where my grandparents met as children
Where my parents fell in love as college students
My brother and I were deemed to young to watch the news with my parents
So we snuck looks from behind doorways,
Sat on the stairs that wrapped around the back of our house-
Anything to catch a few words from Christiane Amanpour’s mouth that would explain why my mother jumped every time the phone rang
And my father sat in front of the TV with his mouth pulled into a tight line
My brother and I whispered to each other from our hiding spots,
Pulled dictionaries into our room and blew the dust from their pages
Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation
My brother read the definition aloud and I tilted my head to the side
Why us?
He slowly shook his head side to side
8 years old
How was he supposed to know?
In the spring of 1998,
I sat on top of my father’s shoulders as we marched through Times Square,
Chanted in front of the United Nations building in Midtown Manhattan
Around us, the crowd swarmed
Red and black t-shirts, the Albanian eagle stamped on every single one
Free Kosova, U.S.A.! we yelled
Free Kosova, U.S.A.!
In 1999, Bill Clinton became the hero of Albanians everywhere when he ordered NATO to launch an air strike against Serbia
78 days later, the war was over
But what we didn’t understand then was that it had just began
The first time I saw the country of my ancestors was in the summer of 1999
British army tanks rolled down the streets instead of cars
And my mother tried to distract me by pointing out landmarks
That’s where your father and I used to have coffee
That’s where my dorm was

But all I could see was the soldiers guarding the entrance to my aunts’ apartment building
And the pile of rubble that used to be my father’s childhood home
I looked out with my big brown eyes
And saw an entire country bleeding and breaking
I went back to America after the summer of 1999 with the taste of my homeland burning my tongue
My grandfather-
Tati, remember?
He lived to see the war start and end
But died before anyone recognized our independence
A snowy New Year’s Eve
2003 slipping into 2004
A heart attack
A widow
A funeral
The first time I saw my mother cry
My youngest uncle washing my grandfather’s body
My baby sister only three months old, screaming like she felt our pain
It’s been 10 years and my grandmother is still mourning my grandfather
It’s been 15 years and my country is still mourning our lost souls
But my grandmother has stopped wearing all black and she laughs with her grandchildren like we’re the only thing that keep her breathing
And my country just celebrated 6 years of independence
I know my grandmother is lonely
She talks about my grandfather like he just stepped out of the room for a moment
And I know my country is hurting
We still hang flowers on the mass graves of our countrymen
But we’re all healing
Which reminds me of the best advice my grandfather ever gave me-
Shpresa le te v’des e fundit-
Let hope die last
Fortesa Latifi - The Plight of the Refugee & Their Family (via madgirlf)

Please read this.

i-sing-endlessly
I think one thing you can do to help your friends who are depressed is to reach out to them not in the spirit of helping, but in the spirit of liking them and wanting their company. “I’m here to help if you ever need me” is good to know, but hard to act on, especially when you’re in a dark place. Specific, ongoing, pleasure-based invitations are much easier to absorb. “I’m here. Let’s go to the movies. Or stay in and order takeout and watch some dumb TV.” “I’m having a party, it would be really great if you could come for a little while.” Ask them for help with things you know they are good at and like doing, so there is reciprocity and a way for them to contribute. “Will you come over Sunday and help me clear my closet of unfashionable and unflattering items? I trust your eye.” “Will you read this story I wrote and help me fix the dialogue?” “Want to make dinner together? You chop, I’ll assemble.” “I am going glasses shopping and I need another set of eyes.” Remind yourself why you like this person, and in the process, remind them that they are likable and worth your time and interest.

Talk to the parts of the person that aren’t being eaten by the depression. Make it as easy as possible to make and keep plans, if you have the emotional resources to be the initiator and to meet your friends a little more than halfway. If the person turns down a bunch of invitations in a row because (presumably) they don’t have the energy to be social, respect their autonomy by giving it a month or two and then try again. Keep the invitations simple; “Any chance we could have breakfast Saturday?” > “ARE YOU AVOIDING ME BECAUSE YOU’RE DEPRESSED OR BECAUSE YOU HATE ME I AM ONLY TRYING TO HELP YOU.” “I miss you and I want to see you” > “I’m worried about you.” A depressed person is going to have a shame spiral about how their shame is making them avoid you and how that’s giving them more shame, which is making them avoid you no matter what you do. No need for you to call attention to it. Just keep asking. “I want to see you” “Let’s do this thing.” “If you are feeling low, I understand, and I don’t want to impose on you, but I miss your face. Please come have coffee with me.” “Apology accepted. ApologIES accepted. So. Gelato and Outlander?”

#613: How do I reach out to my friends who have depression? | Captain Awkward

P.S. A lot of people with depression and other mental illnesses have trouble making decisions or choosing from a bunch of different options. “Wanna get dinner at that pizza place on Tuesday night?” is a LOT easier to answer than “So wanna hang out sometime? What do you want to do?”

(via startrekrenegades)

i-sing-endlessly
We need beauty. But what right did I have, I kept asking myself, in a world so full of hell?

In his poem, “A Brief for the Defense,” Jack Gilbert attempted an answer. “We must risk delight,” he wrote. Life contains everything. Tear gas in Ferguson. Books read on the grass. Foley’s murder. Dancing in New Orleans, till sunrise blots the stars. We’re meat—fragile and finite. But joy is survival.
thewaif
sixpenceee:

Italian special force soldier after 72 hour battle in Afghanistan

School for black civil rights activists. Young girl being trained to not react to smoke blown in her face, 1960

Disability activists abandon their wheelchairs and mobility devices and crawl up the 83 stone steps of the U.S. Capitol Building demanding the passage of the American with Disability Act, March 12, 1990.

A south Korean man cries as his brother is on a train back to North Korea. Separated by the war, they have not seen the other since 1950. They were allowed to see each other for three days, but one will go back spending life in luxury, and the other in hard labour

 The Mocambo night club in East Hollywood, a white’s only club, was the most popular dance spot around but would not book Ella because she was black. Marilyn, who adored Ella Fitzgerald and her music, called the manager and demanded that they book Ella immediately

Portrait of Istvan Reiner, taken shortly before he was killed in Auschwitz

Werfel, a 6 year old orphan from Austria has just been given his first pair of new shoes by the American Red Cross,1946.

The last Jew of Vinnitsa

Susan B. Anthony in 1872 getting beaten and arrested for trying to vote when it was illegal for women to do so.

Until the mid-60s, the Aborigines came under the Flora And Fauna Act, which classified them as animals, not human beings. This also meant that killing an Aborigine meant you weren’t killing a human being, but an animal.

Here’s a link to 75 iconic pictures of the 21st century
I hope you guys learned and teared up from this as much as I did. 

sixpenceee:

Italian special force soldier after 72 hour battle in Afghanistan

School for black civil rights activists. Young girl being trained to not react to smoke blown in her face, 1960

Disability activists abandon their wheelchairs and mobility devices and crawl up the 83 stone steps of the U.S. Capitol Building demanding the passage of the American with Disability Act, March 12, 1990.

A south Korean man cries as his brother is on a train back to North Korea. Separated by the war, they have not seen the other since 1950. They were allowed to see each other for three days, but one will go back spending life in luxury, and the other in hard labour

 The Mocambo night club in East Hollywood, a white’s only club, was the most popular dance spot around but would not book Ella because she was black. Marilyn, who adored Ella Fitzgerald and her music, called the manager and demanded that they book Ella immediately

Portrait of Istvan Reiner, taken shortly before he was killed in Auschwitz

Werfel, a 6 year old orphan from Austria has just been given his first pair of new shoes by the American Red Cross,1946.

The last Jew of Vinnitsa

Susan B. Anthony in 1872 getting beaten and arrested for trying to vote when it was illegal for women to do so.

Until the mid-60s, the Aborigines came under the Flora And Fauna Act, which classified them as animals, not human beings. This also meant that killing an Aborigine meant you weren’t killing a human being, but an animal.

Here’s a link to 75 iconic pictures of the 21st century

I hope you guys learned and teared up from this as much as I did. 

i-sing-endlessly

genderfuckedover:

thewomanfromitaly:

i-am-river:

So, i read this awful article using bathroom “scare tactics,” which was claiming that trans women are potential rapists. “Men” who dress as women to gain access to women only spaces and force them self on women. This really upset me and i had a bit of a Twitter rant. They were read by others and i was urged to post them in other media also, so i am posting them here. (Edited together in easy reading format from top to bottom.)

This is the link in the first tweet about how there are no cases of a trans woman attacking a cis woman in public restrooms: Link 1.

This is the link in the second tweet about the cases where trans people are assaulted in the bathroom by cis people: Link 2.

if you’re cis and you follow me i’m gonna need you to reblog this

don’t care if you’re cis or trans, this is important.