one day, some towers fell
and the world rocked on its heels
and grew blisters between its toes.

yesterday, my grandmother called
and with a voice thick like anesthesia
and shaky like war, she told us the drones
fly over Pakistan when the skies are bluest.

with bullet-shaped silence on my end,
she tells me that blue skies mean
different things in different nations.

one day, some towers fell.
it is a dozen years later, a thousand
suns and moons and caskets made to fit
infant bodies, and my sister watches
a commercial for skin lightening cream.

i will wake in the middle of the blackest night
to the sound of her warm feet
against bathroom tile. i will listen
to her gasping breath as she washes her face
with the cold side of the tap
over and over and over again.

i will listen to her sigh
as she realizes for the fifth night in a row
that this brown
does not wash off, does not
spill into the drain, does not
peel itself into a whiter,
safer life.

one day, some towers fell.
one day, i came to Canada on a plane
with peppermint candies and foldable tables
and my henna coloured hand clutched
in my mother’s.

one day, i came home
from a new school with my native tongue
carved out from under me,
with a tougher, harder language
in its place, with a language that never bathed me
on a Lahore roof, never sold ginger chai on
the street corner, never drove rickshaws
like there were dreams tied to the bumper.

a language that only side-eyed me
when i climbed on the school bus,
only coloured my brown cheekbones pink
and the space between my white tights yellow
when i did not know how to ask for the bathroom,

a language that only called me a
“terrorist”, only named
my brown baby skin “exotic but not enough”,
only faulted my father’s hands for those towers
when the only words bookmarked in my
English dictionary were “home” and

My Name is Brown | Ramna Safeer (via inkywings)


Why You Need To Pay Attention To Gary Johnson’s Lawsuit To Fix Presidenial Elections In America

Gary Johnson has released an ad for his “Our America Initiative,” which is asking for crowd-sourced donations to his lawsuit to sue the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a private organization created by both the Democratic and Republican Parties which controls access to the Presidential debates.

The Issue

The Democratic and Republican parties have secured a monopoly on access to Presidential Debates by working with institutionalized media to create a system that blocks candidates from other parties from entering the debates.  Eric W. Dolan summed up the details during the 2012 debates:

The debate rules specify that to be included, candidates must receive at least 15 percent in a major poll. Most major polls do not even list [third party candidates] as an option. Televised presidential debates date back to 1960, and have been a regular event since the 1976 election. Originally administered by the League of Women Voters, they’ve been jointly organized by the Democratic and Republican parties through the Commission on Presidential Debates—a group the two parties jointly formed—since 1987.

In other words, the CPD has created a shell game.  In order to have access to the Presidential Debates, you need at least 15% approval rating in a major national poll.  But most major national polls do not list third party candidates as an option, making it de facto impossible for most third party candidates to enter the debates.

What The Lawsuit Would Achieve

Gary Johnson’s lawsuit would ask the court to order the CPD to allow any candidate access to the Presidential Debates who is listed in enough states to garner at least 50% of the electoral college votes.  This requirement would give third party candidates access to the debates, while ensuring that only serious candidates were allowed in.

Why It Matters

Access to the debates is not simply a token gift to third parties to make them feel better.  As recent lawsuits over campaign finance laws indicate (i.e. Citizens United McCutcheon), access to mass media is a very big deal.  When third parties are denied access to the debates, large swathes of voters are not given an opportunity to compare the ideas of the candidates in real time.  

The forum of the Presidential Debate itself also grants an air of legitimacy to the candidates.  Candidates who are denied access to the debates are both literally and figuratively shoved into the unwilling role of “outsiders,” which makes many voters afraid to commit to them for fear of wasting their vote.  The CPD and institutionalized media have thus created a system that effectively prevents third party candidates from achieving legitimacy in America’s 2-party system.

If Gary Johnson’s lawsuit is successful, third party candidates would have real access to the Presidential Debates, and would have an opportunity to bring their message to the largest national media platform during election season.  Third party candidates would finally have an opportunity to bring their message to large swathes of voters on a platform which has historically been denied to them.  In the process, they would be given an opportunity to change voter’s minds at the time when it matters most.