Human: Part III

If you separate yourself from your accomplishments, titles, and possessions, then who are you really? At work, I am Ms. Naima, the math instructor. At school, I am an unfamiliar passerby on the campus of George Mason University. And on Instagram, I am Naima, the yogi, contemporary artist, and blogger. But if we tap into our subconscious mind and explore our inner selves– strengths, vulnerabilities, aspirations, fear– then we discover the aspects that truly define us. Apart from being an employee, a classmate, a community member, or otherwise, who are you? We make myriad assumptions about other people every day, an automatic process conducted by the subconscious mind.

As I stood in front of a college class for a presentation today, I couldn’t help but wonder about the gaps that my audience may have filled in their minds regarding who I am. I shouldn’t be concerned with directly influencing others’ perception of me; doing so is just as ineffective as beating a dead horse. But observing the nature of perception (of humans and the world around us) is intriguing because our thoughts are presumably flexible, and thus, subject to external influence. It is often that I spend the nights in quiet introspection, as I lay my thoughts on the floor of my mind and pretend to be an outsider. These thoughts are organized based on category: art, religion, culture, politics, academia, and more.

I challenge myself to consider the counter-view of my beliefs so that I may gain an awareness of diverse perspectives. Some may call this practice “walking in other people’s shoes.” My history professor and I call it “mental flexibility.” During this process, I observe the contours of my face and employ the imaginative part of my mind. I imagine myself as a single individual among billions of humans. These people do not have unique countenances– no unique race, religion, background, or character. We are truly a unified human race in this scenario (which only exists in the boundaries of my skull). We do not compare each other on the basis of financial status or ridicule unique gender identities (many of which were recently introduced by the millennial generation). We are mind, body, and spirit . We are one collective whole on this planet. We are not a dollar amount, a simulation of photoshopped magazine covers, or titles upon titles of resume-perfect accomplishments.

We are thoughts expressing themselves through character and action.

We are vulnerability– embraced by the self or not.

We are human.

Advertisements

Privilege

Writer’s Note: This piece was motivated by those who fail to empathize with the underprivileged and is addressed to individuals who receive privileges on the basis of race and gender.

Privilege

As you walk along the paved path of privilege,

Stand tall, chin up, chest open.

With an air of vanity,

Tell the underprivileged how great it feels to stand on your pedestal,

Looking back at them in mock sympathy.

Can you see the white-knuckled fist

Of the woman who clenches her hands onto her hijab,

As society pressures her to remove her mark of faith,

In a land that prides itself on religious freedom?

Are you aware of the children of Syria

who cover their ears to drown out the sound of bombs

detonating?

Can you hear the plea for help

Of black men and women

Who beg police officers

To spare them?

No.

Close the door to your suburban home,

Safely.

And continue to stand tall with an air of vanity.

It doesn’t effect you anyway,

Does it?

 

 

 

Like A Girl

With every mile that I run, tell me that I run, “like a girl.”

With every breathless pat on the back, tell me that I performed, “like a girl.”

With every stride, every grunt, every grimace, tell me that I work out, “like a girl.”

Because if we’re going to associate the word “girl,” with “powerful,” “relentless,” “courageous,” and more, tell me that I have the athleticism of a girl.

For the last painstaking tricep-pushup,

For the fresh beads of sweat that race down my face as I climb countless steps on the StairMaster machine,

For the pounding of a heart that refuses to give in even as my muscles scream, lungs beg for more oxygen, and veins pump healthy blood to every organ of my body,

Tell me.

Tell me that the countless obstacles I endure to achieve a better version of myself,

Paints the word “girl” all over me.

A powerful girl.

A confident girl.

A relentless girl.

I am just like a girl.