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Preparation

I was preparing to go down to Houston for my Consular Visit. Houston is where the Office of the General of France is, which means that it where I had to go to get my visa approved.

This process was nerve-racking and anxiety-inducing. I only enjoyed the process insofar as I knew that it was just one more hurdle I had to clear until I could go to France. That’s the goal I had to cling to through frantic calls from my parents, frantic calls to my parents, gathering materials, making a list, checking the list, printing so much that I probably have the destruction of an entire forest on my conscience. I hated everything about this process–everything except for the fact that it was going to get me closer to studying abroad.

Honestly, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to travel and see everything and everyone there is to see. Maybe if I had travelled outside of the country before, I wouldn’t have been so nervous. But as it is, I have never been outside the United States, though not for lack of trying.

I planned my consular visit to take place during Thanksgiving Break. I took the train to Dallas, my hometown. My mother picked me up, I had a brief moment to say hello to my brother and sister before my dad came home. We were rushing around (and by ‘we,’ I mean ‘me’) trying to find the last few official documents that I’d need for the visit. I had two different versions of a checklist in my hands, and I’d check them and the folder with all my documents in it several times, every few minutes. Even once we had gotten into the car and were already driving down to Houston.

We spent the night in town, five minutes from the consulate, so that we wouldn’t miss my 9:30 appointment. Despite my meticulous checking, we’d forgotten the prepaid envelope which was required for the appointment (I later learned it was to mail all my important documentation back to me, like my passport). So, at the crack of dawn, we drove around looking for a post office and a bank which was open before 9 am, because one of the documents needed to be notarized. We found a post office, but all the banks were still closed, it was too early in the morning. I was nervous, because I am the type of person who just waits for something small to derail something big and important. But my mother had a great idea to see if the French Consulate had a notary that we could use when we got there. We called the consulate, and the secretary assured us that it was no big deal, so long as we had identification for everyone who signed the documents.

I was still a ball of nerves when we parked at the consulate. By the time I walked in and sat down it felt like someone had lit a campfire in my stomach, and every so often my anxiety would force me to involuntarily contract my stomach muscles, like it was trying to put the fire out.

I walked up to the window and she asked for proof of my appointment. I knew I had gotten an email but I didn’t think to print it. All my meticulous planning, printing and list checking and this was the thing that was going to derail everything. But no, she checked my email confirmation and everything went smoothly from there. In fact I had forms and printouts in my folder the man behind the counter just handed back to me.

By the end of it all, I got my visa, valid from January 8 to June 8.I plan to leave on January 14 (since my sister’s birthday is on January 11, and she has insisted I stay for it) and I will return on June 13.Even though this process was and still is nerve-wracking, I am more excited than I am afraid.

Céline

I have an OU Cousin. I have been part of the OU Cousins program before, but I was often paired with a cousin who didn’t really want to hang out or do anything together. But this year, I met Céline, a French exchange student from the University of Bordeaux.

Céline is at OU to study American History and Literature. She prefers to concentrate on African American history, which is perfect because not only am I black, and therefore compelled to enjoy the company of anyone as woke as Céline, but I have an extensive knowledge of African American history due to my elementary education at a private all-black elementary school and my parents’ influence. From the very first moment we hung out, we hit it off. We’d been emailing back and forth, talking about this and that. I invited her to coffee, but she told me that she needed groceries and had no means of transportation. So, a few Friday’s back, I picked her up at Traditions and the two of us went grocery shopping.

She told me about markets in France, and how they’re not usually as big as Walmart. I convinced her to try some Little Debbie snacks, which I think she enjoyed. After the grocery store, we went to lunch at a Mediterranean place near my house. I live right across the street from her apartment, so it was no big deal for us to have lunch on my roof. We talked about our families. She has a brother and a sister, like me. But she’s the middle child, and I’m the oldest. We talked about “frat culture” and Greek letter societies, which are apparently unique to America. She said that they don’t have fraternities in France, at least not in the same way that we do here. We even talked about police brutality and how social justice movements that address American societal problems get more support abroad than they do here. She told me that they even had a Black Lives Matter protest at her university.

Last week, Céline came over and she and I went thrift shopping with my roommate. It was really fun, despite all the traffic and road construction. Céline was really excited to be invited thrift shopping, she said that she didn’t know that we had second-hand shops. I’d recent;y gone to the Pre-Departure Orientation for my study abroad program, where I’d learned some of the American stereotypes. On the ride over, my roommate–Nikki–and I asked her if they were true. She said that she’d heard that “all Americans are rich” and that “Americans are loud” and even “Americans are dumb/gullible.” I asked her why she thought Europeans thought that. She said: “Well, since America is far, when people can come to Europe, people think they must have lots of money. And when people think of America, they think of…I think his name is George Bush? And also Homer Simpson, that’s why some people think Americans are not smart. But yes, Americans are loud.” Nikki and I cracked up.

When we got to the thrift stores, I found a few sweaters and Céline found a denim jacket and few other pieces that she liked. We also stopped at Sonic for a milkshake. Well, Céline got a milkshake, a cheesecake milkshake to be exact. She loves that you can get two desserts in one here.

Céline is staying for an entire year, which is a little bit of a bummer, because I’m going to France next semester, so we won’t get to hang out after this semester ends. But I’m glad that I’ve gotten to know her, and maybe one day when she’s back in France I’ll get to go visit, or she’ll come back to the States for a trip. All I know is that it’s fun to make new friends, no matter where they come from.

Congressional Republicans, Trump, and Russia

Once, again, I will have to editorialize. Because once again, I have too much of an emotional response to just report facts.

Yesterday, two very important things came to light. The first was that Trump’s transition team was aware that Michael Flynn was being investigated by the FBI for his ties to Russia and Turkey, but hired him and National Security Advisor anyway. The second is that House Republicans have had their doubts about Trump and knew that he was a potential national security risk, and backed him anyway.

I’ve said it before, but the more I hear about this administration and members of this congress, the more I fear that partisanship and politics has replaced any actual care for the American people. Our public servants seem to have forgotten that they work for us. We’re not just votes, we’re people who cast those votes in the hopes that the names on the ballots would do what is in our best interest. Anyway, on to the stories that broke yesterday.

First off, Michael Flynn told the Trump administration that he was being investigated. He personally told them, so it wasn’t speculation or hearsay. But the vetting process for this president has been so lax, and the standard of qualification so low, that they hired Flynn anyway. As National Security Advisor. Like in what world does it make sense for a man who has his loyalties in question, and has actually admitted to illegal lobbying for a foreign nation (Turkey) to be a national security advisor? It’s reasonable to assume that his advice wouldn’t always be for our nation. Instead of not considering Flynn for the job at all, and moving on to an actually qualified candidate, Trump and the members of his team seemed to think that it was enough to know about the investigation.

But not only did they know about the investigation, they lied about knowing about it. Sally Yates, Barack Obama, and other members of the FBI and Justice Department told the Trump team that Flynn was not a good choice because of the ongoing investigation. This too was disregarded. But when it came to light the Flynn was under investigation, every one in the transition team, and Trump himself, claimed ignorance. I’m gonna skip ahead here, because this is an important point I don’t think enough people have mentioned. Because of the information about Trump’s connection to Russia that I mentioned in the previous post, many people are whispering about impeachment. Here’s the problem with that: Mike Pence is the Vice President and second in line for the presidency. But he was head of the transition team and said on TV that he knew nothing about the Flynn’s ties to Russia and Turkey. If that’s true, he is almost as dumb as Trump. He was head of the team and somehow knew nothing? Also, the head of the DOJ sent a memo detailing Flynn’s investigation directly to him. So if he still knew nothing, he’s as lazy as Trump and didn’t read an important document that was send right to his desk. And if none of the above are true, then he knew and he lied to us about it. Is there anyone on the right willing to stand up for us, even if it’s not the popular thing to do? Are any of them willing to be the one who goes agains the crowd and does the right thing, instead of the politically smart thing? DO any of them care about us anymore?

So, Trump and his transition team lied. But even now, this is something that the American people are unfortunately no longer surprised about. But what about the Representatives, that are specifically elected to represent our interests state by state? Surely they are willing to stand up for us even if the executive side of the government is untrustworthy, right? Wrong.

It was reported yesterday by The Washington Post that House Republicans had their suspicions about Trump’s affiliation with Vladimir Putin from the beginning. In 2016, a month before Trump secured the nomination, someone secretly taped a private meeting with GOP members in which the then House majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said “I think Putin pays Trump.” This statement garnered some laughter, to which McCarthy quickly responded: “Swear to God.” Paul Ryan, the current House Majority Leader then said that there were to be ‘no leaks’ and that that was how they knew they were ‘all family.’ The most important aspect of this exchange is that no one ever said “that can’t be true.” Instead, the focus was on making sure the conversation never was leaked.

This is what’s crazy about this who thing: not only no one in the entire transcript ever deny that it was a possibility, but again they lied about it. Paul Ryan fervently denied that this was ever said, until he was made aware that a tape existed. Then he changed his tune, saying that yes, it was said, but it was a joke.

This is  not a joke to us. Our elected officials had reason to believe that the man they were about to nominate to be the leader of the free world was on another country’s payroll-not just any country either, our frenemy, Russia. And they nominated him anyway. And then they lied about it. 

When will the American people be put first again? When will our leaders actually lead, and not be the doormats for men with no loyalty and no sense? When can we trust the people we voted for for protection, to actually protect us? Especially when it seems it’s them we need protection from. 

Trump, His Admin., and Russia

This was a long time coming also, and the past two weeks have been a whirlwind of non-stop disconcerting news about our commander in chief and his ties to Russia. I absolutely have to editorialize, even though I usually just sort of report what I think is interesting, because you can’t write this stuff. So my editorializations will be in bold.

The suspected collusion with Russia on the part of Donald Trump began on the campaign trail, when he ‘jokingly’ asked Russia to interfere with the election and hack into government property to find Hilary Clinton’s emails. Come to find out, the Russians actually did interfere in the American election. Suddenly, it was looking like less of a joke.

Then both Michael Flynn and Jeff Sessions were removed, Flynn from his position as National Security Advisor and Sessions (though still Attorney General) had to recuse himself from Flynn’s investigation because he himself had questionable ties to Russia. The entire time his administration was in question, Trump never said a bad word about Vladimir Putin. In fact, he has praised the dictator on many occasions. This alone should have been enough, in my opinion, for the House and Senate Republicans to at least pull a little of their support. But in today’s America, unfortunately, partisanship is king.

This all happened months ago, but last week, the worrying saga continued. Russian officials visited the White House, and while no American press were allowed in to photograph the event, the Russian press was permitted to attend. At this meeting, Donald Trump personally leaked sensitive information about ISIS and US anti-terrorist strategies that could endanger the informants who risk their lives to give us this information. Whether he was trying to brag about having sensitive information or if he purposely handed over this intel is unclear, but both are equally plausible in my opinion. I’d say he was just impulsively egotistical and desperate to show off, were it not for what happened next. The very next day, Trump fired James Comey, the FBI Director who was investigating his ties to Russia. Ostensibly, Comey was fired for ‘mishandling’ the investigation into Hilary Clinton’s emails. Obviously, if it was about Comey’s handling of Clinton’s investigation, he’d have been fired as soon as Trump got into the White House. But it was clearly about Flynn and Russia, who for some reason Trump is determined to protect. However, sure enough, in a later interview with Lester Holt, Trump said that Comey was fired because of the Russia investigation. This alone raised eyebrows about obstruction of justice, but this week the 24-hour news cycle was packed with even more information and even possible hard evidence that could put Trump’s presidency in jeopardy.

It has now come to light that Comey wrote a memo, as many high ranking officials and FBI employees are wont to do, that detailed a meeting with Donald Trump before he was fired. Trump reportedly made everyone else, including Sessions and Pence leave the room before asking Comey to ‘let Flynn go’ -in other words, stop the investigation-on account of he (Flynn) being ‘a good guy.’ Trump also asked Comey to ‘swear loyalty to him.’ Like he’s some sort of king or dictator! Every time Trump does something questionable, his team’s only defense of his actions is to reiterate that he has the ‘authority’ to do whatever crazy thing he’s done. But having the ability to do something doesn’t automatically make it the right or prudent course of action. Also, this is America, a democracy where title doesn’t automatically guarantee a person to get respect. This is what I think Trump doesn’t understand. I think he literally thought once he was president, he’d be automatically loved. The fact that it’s not true gets to him, since he constantly mentions ‘winning the popular vote’ (which he definitely didn’t), and is infuriated by the media’s criticism of him. The media and the American people are itching to see this memo, as it could be considered evidence. Memos have been considered credible by courts in the past. Trump tried to threaten Comey in a tweet, saying he’d “better hope there were no ‘tapes’ of their conversation.” This backfired though, because since catching wind of Comey’s memo, we all would love it if there was a tape. Put up or shut up, Mr. President. 

The memo has a chance of being introduced, as  there  was finally enough suspicion for Congress to pressure the US Department of Justice into appointing a special and most importantly independent investigator into Trump’s Russian connections. Former FBI Chief Robert Mueller has been praised by both Democrats and Republicans as highly qualified to run this investigation.

The suspicion of Trump and his campaign and  his administration’s collusion with Russia had been planted in the minds of Americans since his days on the campaign trail, when he directly asked Russia to interfere. Then, before he’d even reached 100 days, his national security advisor was being investigated because of the connection and his Attorney General had to recuse himself from said investigation because of his own meetings with Russian officials. Trump himself has never said a bad word about Vladimir Putin, and I’m sure if he thought long and hard the could come up with a few. Despite all this mounting evidence, Trump this morning has insisted that the investigation, which will now be carried out by someone he can’t fire, is a ‘witchhunt.’

I’m worried and embarrassed for us. We can’t even trust our own leaders, and I’m tired of feeling like I have to root against my own government.

 

The French Election

After how our elections turned out in November, the world held it’s breath for the results of the French elections. With one candidate, Emmanuel Macron, a pro-European liberal, and the other, Marine Le Pen, on the far-right, this was a diversion from the usual French politics. Traditionally, the leaders of France have been either members of the Socialist party or the centre-right. But like the US, a new wave of populism has taken over and caused a deviation from politics as usual.

Macron vs Le Pen

Most people following the French election remarked that Marine Le Pen, who ran on an anti-terrorist platform that rhetorically mimicked Donald Trump’s attacks on Islam and Muslims around the world while he was on the campaign trail in America. She also was in the shadow of her father, who was a Holocaust denier and self-professed anti-Semitic. Similarly, Trump and members of his cabinet have “mis-remembered” aspects of the Holocaust. Le Pen eventually denounced her father’s racist remarks, but her delay followed her in the public perception throughout the election. Le Pen also campaigned as an anti-establishment candidate and a nationalist, which was the most important aspect to the global community. She praised Brexit, which some feel destabilized the EU. Le Pen wanted France to be less involved in Europe and the EU. Her nationalist approach to politics was also reminiscent of Donald Trump’s philosophy during the 2016 electoral process. It is all of these attributes that led people around the world to remark that Marine Le Pen was a “female Trump.”

Macron Victory

Ultimately Le Pen was defeated by Emmanuel Macron, in a sweeping victory. Macron, tho youngest president in French history, ran on a platform of strength and continued attempts at unity in the face of the recent terrorist attacks France has experienced. He also wanted France to be more involved in the affairs of Europe and the European Union. In the second round of voting, Macron polled at 60% over Le Pen. He then decisively triumphed on May 7, 2017. It is significant to note that, like in the US, many eligible voters abstained from voting at all. Nevertheless, 66% of voters preferred Macron’s plan to loosen labor laws, and make France more globally competitive as well as more intwined with the European Union, which calmed fears of global economic instability. Macron, in his victory speech, promised to do what was necessary to combat terrorism

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After Macron’s victory, a rave was held at the Louvre in the country’s capital of Paris. Videos of the victory party have made many-including myself-yearn for a similar response to political victory in the US (as soon as we deserve it).

 

French Election PartyRave at Louvre

US Strikes on Syria

Last week, the United States issued a tomahawk strike on Syria, on the order of Donald Trump. These strikes were in response to the Syrian government chemically attacking its own people. Even under President Obama it was understood that President Bashir al-Assad, should be removed from power, as he is a danger to his own people. However, United States involvement in Syria is a delicate geo-political game, because Assad is being supported by the Russian government.

Putting aside the recent and undoubtedly troubling controversy about Donald Trump and his cabinet’s involvement with Russia and Russian officials, the United States refused the Syrian refugees fleeing Assad, on the grounds of potential threats to national security. That means that the people Donald Trump is claiming to protect are the same ones that he refused to give sanctuary to.

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With consideration to Donald Trump’s involvement with Russia and Vladimir Putin, this strike on Syria is conveniently timed. As his administrators are investigated for their involvement with the Russian government, he ordered a strike on the site of the chemical attacks. Some journalists and citizens (myself included) believe this is an attempt to distract the public and the media from questions about his administrations loyalties. Especially because of Trump’s own accusations against President Obama for this very tactic

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As of his fourth month in office, two of his cabinet members have had to resign because of their ties to Russia. The president’s own monetary ties are documented, his political connection is highly suspect–especially after he asked Russian hackers to interfere with the election, and his personal ties to Vladimir Putin are often speculated about. This is important, because with all of these connections to Russia, one wonders if there is a hidden agenda behind the attacks.

But it is even more important because it is indicative of the president’s attitude toward foreign relations. It is already well-known that Donald Trump is not well-spoken, well-versed in affairs of government and diplomacy, or well-received by either the American public or by foreign nations. Rather than a strategic, inclusive approach to delicate geopolitical problems, his solution is to seal America’s borders to those who need help, and bomb the country, with both the threat and the refugees contained.

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A lot of the concerning issues we see in the media are connected to this precedent of violence that is being set. For instance, the proposed budget that would cut nearly every government program from PBS to the National Parks Service to Meals on Wheels to increase military spending is greatly disquieting.

TRUMP BUDGET_0The American people would be deprived of things like NPR, and of arts and culture and different perspective, all the things that help make our country great, so that we could afford to go to war against anyone who opposed Donald Trump. His attempts to lessen media coverage of  White House affairs and presidential policies are frightening, because we would be left with only one-sided  far-right coverage and his own, incoherent tweets for information.

These are difficult times for informed Americans, but they are even more difficult for the refugees of Syria, who’s people just want to survive this proxy war.

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IAC Eve of Nations: 4th International Event

On Friday, April 7, was the 47th annual Eve of Nations event put on by the International Advisory Committee, with the help of all the International Student Organizations on campus. I was especially excited to go because my friend, Omar Shendi, is the president this year.

The event is always spectacular. Lot of different clubs and cultures come together and showcase their heritage through a wide range of creative expression. There were groups that preferred to introduce the audience to traditional songs and dances; there were some that chose to excite the audience with contemporary music from their homelands; and some promoted cultural acceptance and inclusion by performing using songs with a mixture of cultural  inspiration.

There were also guest performances by groups that were not necessarily student organizations but who’s culture and traditions were undoubtedly deserving of acknowledgement and applause. My favorite of these guest performances was the Native American dances. It was strictly traditional, with a man to one side of the stage beating a drum and singing into a microphone. Three dancers in three different examples of traditional attire each had their turn to dance. Each dance was progressively more energetic and each costume more elaborate, until the third dancer, dressed in very brightly colored feathers and a beautiful, elaborate headdress was whirling around the stage with such fervor and precision that I was amazed at his skill.

Guest Native American Dancers
Guest Native American Dancers

The crowd favorite was an Indian dance crew that included more contemporary Bollywood music that drew on other artists influence as well, including Beyonce.

Indian Guest Dance Group
Indian Guest Dance Group

After the guest performances, the competition portion of the event began. Every group had a different energy and different flavor, and this diversity of performance kept me, and I suspect the rest of the audience, excited about what to expect next. There was a traditional ribbon dance from the Chinese student group, a skit and energized dance from the Angolan student association, and a stunning multi-group, moving-part performance from the Indian student group. I loved the grace and beauty of the Chinese student association’s dance. It was beautiful, and though I’d heard of traditional Chinese ribbon dancing, I’d never actually seen a performance.

Chinese Ribbon Dancing
Chinese Ribbon Dancing

The Angolan Student Association was amusing and it looked inviting. The students were jumping and dancing and their energy was contagious, and made me want to join them on stage.

Angolan Student Association
Angolan Student Association

The Indian students ended up winning the evening, and it was well-deserved. They had several sets of dancers and music selections, a great costumes that wowed the audience. But every group looked like they were having fun.

Eve of Nations 2017 Performers
Eve of Nations 2017 Performers

 

I think that it is noteworthy to talk about the audience of the Eve of Nations. It’s usually a little small for the venue, but that doesn’t matter because the people who are in the audience are what’s important. It’s usually made up of family members of the international students performing and OU students. Both family and friends cheered equally for the performers, and it really is an inclusive event.

At the end of the event, Omar got up to give his speech. I could tell he was nervous, but he did a great job of summarizing the feel of the event and the OU students who participated in it. In many ways, these international student groups are the only contact some students will have other cultures and traditions. And it is important to note that though it is a little intimidating to be in a new country, the students who participated fearlessly put themselves out there and brought a little cultural diversity to Norman.

AFSA Le Diamant Pageant

So I went to the African Student Association’s beauty pageant, the ticket for which was generously given to e free of charge when I met some of the lovely women competing at the International Bazaar.

The even was held in Meacham Theater in the Student Union. While we waited for the pageant to start, contemporary African music played and the audience talked to each other. I made several new friends just in the span of 40 minutes (“African time is nothing like CP time,” one of these new friends told me.)

The pageant was small, with only five contestants, but there was no shortage of pomp or circumstance. The had a lovely opening number and then they introduced themselves and told us about their platforms. The topics of interest ranged from beauty across all sizes, to integrating and healing the relationship between Africans in the homeland and blacks in the Diaspora. Each topic had merit, and each woman competing was well informed and did an excellent job of putting forward her ideas.

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Then there was evening wear, outfit of choice, and talent. All of the outfit for all of the contestants were brightly colored with Afrocentric patterns. The women were all beautiful, but with different skin tones, hair length and styles, and body types. In the African-American community, there is still the idea of the “ideal” black woman: light skin, long hair, curvy but not too curvy. But all of these girls were equally celebrated by the audience. The talent portions featured diverse talent as well. There were songs, poetry, even spoken word. The last act was a song performed by my friend Joy, who is Nigerian. She sang a song that is popular in Nigerian church, and the whole audience joined in. I was amazed and a little jealous. This was the native language for so many people in the audience, and while it was cool that so many people got to experience a little bit of home while being so far away from it, I wished I knew the words so that I could join in too.

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In the end, Amarachi Pipi, a track star for the University of Oklahoma won the pageant. She had the most crowd support, but she was also an amazing singer and she carried herself with an air of well-deserved pride and approachable humility at the same time. Congratulations, Amarachi!

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You Knew It Was Coming – The Election

So I tried to stay awake to watch the election on Tuesday…but I was sick so I fell asleep at around 9 pm. When I woke up at 1 am, the first thing I saw was “Clinton Concedes Election to Trump” flashing on the screen. I genuinely thought I had entered the twilight zone. I checked my phone to see if I was dreaming. 15 messages from 8 different people telling me they couldn’t believe it. And, because of my impromptu nap in the middle of the night, I got to lie awake all night wondering where we’ll be in the next 4 years until my alarm went off at 8 am.

The next day, there were already changes visible in my peers. I was on the phone whilst waiting for my class to start, and knowing that I am currently in one of the reddest states in the Union, tried not to say anything too inflammatory. I went with a simple: “I’m not happy with these election results.” Two rows in front of me, a boy turns around and says: “Well then you can just go back to Africa.” I was so stunned and embarrassed and angry that I physically couldn’t even form a response. He turned around laughing and high-fived his friend.

Then I attended a protest that was incredibly well organized in the South Oval, and after a beautiful and empowering speech by JD Baker (one of our SGA presidential candidates), we marched to the Bizzel Statue at the top of the oval. After consoling and being consoled by total strangers and friends, I headed to class with a friend. But not before hearing someone say “what do these niggers think they’re doing?” And another girl say “Omg why are they out here?”

We were out there because America tried to show us that they prefer hatred and division to love and acceptance, and we were out there because we disagree. We believe in standing together, that we’re better together, stronger together. Supporting a friend or a neighbor or a stranger even when they don’t look like you is what America is really about.

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OU Students Show Solidarity at South Oval Protest – 11/9/2016

And the thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is not even Trump himself (although he is a big part of it). It’s how people are already thinking that because we have a “leader” disrespecting minorities and disenfranchised groups that its okay for them to be blatantly hateful. Because it’s indicative of a deeper issue. I’ve never been so naive as to think racism doesn’t exist. I’ve watched covert acts of hatred and bigotry happen to me, to my family, to my friends who are Muslim or Hispanic or gay–I’ve seen it on TV and online and in life. Things like that are not good, not constructive, but unfortunately, are normal.

But overt racism, where someone just openly says “The N word” or chants “Build the Wall!”…things like that are supposed to be actions of the past. They are supposed to be things we learn about in history books and say “Thank god that’s over.” But now I am realizing that these things were not over, but that they were just hidden behind an illusion of progress and now that that image is shattered. Now that I see what America really looked like this whole time, I’m not so much afraid as I am tired. I feel selfish saying that, but it just makes me so tired, and world-weary, and hopeless. How many times have my ancestors surmounted an obstacle and handed the torch to the next generation, believing that their sacrifices have improved the world for their children? How many times will I, and my children, and my children’s children do the same, only to realize that we’ve been running in place this whole time? How many branches will be on my family tree before we achieve an actual post-racial America?

But I can’t get tired. I can’t get weary. I won’t let hopelessness overtake me. It’s worth it to carry that torch, for the next four years, for the next forty years, for the next four hundred years if that’s what it takes. It’s worth it, even when hope becomes a heavy burden. It’s worth it because of love. Not just love for my country, or my people, or my peers. But love for the people of the future, who will enjoy the fruits of my labors. My ancestors were brutalized. They were beaten, and raped, and killed, and lynched. I’m made of the same iron that helped them endure all of that, then for now I’ll endure the name-calling and the anger and those who say “you are so petty for caring this much” because one day…I won’t have to.

The International Bazaar

On Thursday, the International Bazaar took place on the South Oval.

The International Bazaar is exactly what it sounds like. There are international student groups and organizations selling all manner of gorgeous authentic items and promoting upcoming events. I was so impressed with the eagerness the students had in anyone who showed interest. Everyone was welcome to learn and take part in various aspects of each others cultures.

There were Indian students selling beautiful sarees and bangles, Angolan students selling gorgeous bracelets, and Pakistani students selling incredibly cute shoes. One moment I was walking through booths listening to students give brief cultural background on their wares and looking at how well-made and exquisite everything was…and the next I was filled with a sense of bafflement.

I know I can sound like a broken-record on this point, but I genuinely will never understand how someone can genuinely dislike another person on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality. I was surrounded by students who had come from all over the world, and who wanted to share their world with me as I share mine with them, if only through a lovely statuette or a colorful tapestry. In a way, every student there was the same and different. We’re all students working toward out individual goals, societal goals, and even when we leave OU we will still be part of the same worldwide community. But we all came from different places and different backgrounds with different stories to tell. In that moment of introspection, I was truly and honestly humbled.

I was roused from my inner thoughts by a member of the African Student Association, who  told me (warning: shameless plug ahead) that they would be having a pageant on November 10th, in the Meacham Theater in the Union. The pageant begins at 7:30, but doors open at 7. Tickets are $5 if you buy before the show, but still only $7 at the door. I am incredibly excited to go, especially after speaking to two of the candidates about their platforms.

Overall, I enjoyed the International Bazaar, and although I was unfortunately too broke to buy any of the things that I really REALLY wanted, I did get a ticket and an exciting event to look forward to out of it, not to mention a few new friends.

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