Category Archives: Thoughts

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Flickers: A Poetic Cycle

by Daniel Dominguez, ’16

Pro Patria

Image 1

I
(City/Begin)

Streetlight metronome.
Cars come in rhythm.
Red lights, blue lights
white lights, bright lights:
blind sights.
Copper,
silver,
platinum.
Rust.

Moonlight metronome.
Stars in their patterns.
Phoenix fire.

Lust.

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Why It’s OK to be Emotional

by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12

I’ve been following the Stubenville Rape Case very closely. You see I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, so this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. In addition, I had a close friend who was brutally raped in high school, and my little sister was raped while I was in my junior year of Stanford. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, obviously, but that doesn’t really matter here. I just follow these cases because it’s one of my personal causes as an activist. All of the causes I take up are deeply personal, and this is because they are the ones that I both have the authority to speak on and the drive to fight. Besides this, the most important mentor of my life, Professor Tom Mullaney (Seriously take his class) told me that we should chase the questions that haunt us most. So rape, sexual assault, and the rights of women are all near and dear to my heart (among other issues).

Like all Stanford students, I have the ability to talk reasonably and with authority about many things. But there are things that I get emotional about, and if you’ve ever encountered me and said something that I find to be ignorant you’ve likely faced a wrath you weren’t used to and didn’t expect. Where I come from, people were never surprised when I was angry, they were grateful that an articulate person had so much passion and was willing to speak for others.  People are completely ok with expressing anger, so I had to learn that this was shocking when I got to Stanford (also, I am a white girl and I think that plays a big role in how people expect me to talk). I get emotional about this issue. I don’t get irrational, my arguments, even in anger, stem from a highly logical, well-educated place because I am both highly logical and well-educated. I do however get angry and aggressive when I am making my point, I won’t sit by idly when something stupid is said, and now that I am older I don’t care what response I get.

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Trayvon’s Eulogy

By Eli Arbor, ’15
mlk-hoodie

This song didn’t come out of a place of musical clarity, of elation, of any sort of epiphany. It came from a single moment, a single shot in the dark on a rainy night, a single juror reading findings, and a single judge acquitting a man of a crime he committed. It came from an someone who was caught about to start a riot, from someone who doesn’t have the means to express his anger and frustrations in any other way. It comes from two men about the same age as Trayvon, who’s lives were deemed meaningless under the law, who could have been Trayvon Martin themselves.

In short, I didn’t write this song because I wanted to. I wrote it because I had to. And I wrote it because no one else would.
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Unblurring the Lines

by April Gregory, ’13

A recent onslaught of tits-in-your-face (TIYF) music videos has catalyzed much hullabaloo in the blogosphere. If you haven’t seen Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” Justin Timberlake’s “Tunnel Vision,” or The-Dream’s “Pussy” (yes, just “Pussy”), you may wish to view them now. On Vevo or Vimeo, though, because they were pulled from YouTube. And not in a place where your supervisor might drop in to give you some Chobani coupons, because they are very, very TIYF.

To start, I should make one thing exceedingly clear: for years I was a more or less passive acceptor of the contradictions inherent in my favorite music genres. I love hip hop and R&B. LOVE. I love booming bass and releasing my inner Bey on the d-floor whenever possible. Consequently, I had — and still have — a tendency to ignore the often unsavory lyrics that float atop said booming bass. “She eyein’ me like her n***a don’t exist / Girl, I know you want this dick,” to name a recent favorite.

At Stanford I had the opportunity to learn from and connect with some of the world’s foremost hip hop scholars, who dropped more knowledge on me than I knew what to do with. They encouraged me to engage more critically with the voices in my earbuds, which in turn inspired some original musings about hip hop and feminism. The more I thought about the dissonance between my personal ideologies and the hot misogynist mess that is mainstream hip hop and R&B, the less passive I became.

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Pillow Talk

by anonymous, ’13

Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexual Assault 

I don’t know if I said no

But I didn’t say yes

Hands in fists, belly up

Torn from sleep

Awoken from ignorance

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On When Things Hit Close to Home

by Heather Charles, B.A. ’10 + M.A. ’12

When I was an undergraduate I had several people tell me that I should just pretend that my family wasn’t poor, that I hadn’t gone to a bad school, that I didn’t grow up in a rough neighborhood, and that I hadn’t been abused. I was supposed to pass, which should have been even easier for me because I was white. I was deeply offended by this, I am not ashamed of where I come from, I have no reason to be. I went to Stanford, what do I have to apologize for? I am proud of my working class roots, because even though it was difficult it made me stronger, a better human being, a better teacher. I also found this advice to be terribly impractical. For one thing, I had an accent, and for another I could only reference what I knew and having never seen rich people before Stanford I really only had one truth to talk about. I couldn’t lie about my mom when it was visibly clear to everyone that she had had me as a teenager. I couldn’t make up stories to hide the fact that my summers were spent looking after my brothers and sisters and reading books. There were things I obviously didn’t know about, foods I had never seen, cultural references I didn’t get, and locations I had never heard of. I developed some close relationships with people more privileged than I was so that I would always have someone to call when I needed something explained to me, which was quite often.

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Freedom, Liberty, & Justice For All

by Emilio da Costa, ’12

Panopticon

I’m not shocked that a white man killed a black boy and that the deliberations of the American judicial system resulted in that white man serving no jail time. I’m not shocked that there exists a Florida self-defense statute, colloquially known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which not only encourages acts of violence founded solely upon suspicion, but also effectively pardons white-on-black killings. When I read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, a book that makes the case for mass incarceration of lower-class minorities being a calculated mechanism of mass disenfranchisement, I wasn’t even shocked that the United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid or that black males are five times more likely to spend time in prison than white males.

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Of Michael Kors and Microaggressions

by Rukma Sen, ’15

PrintYou swivel gracefully on your Michael Kors clad ankles, and stare straight at me. Your eyes are blank, and they make me shrivel and curl up inside my head like a dead, nameless thing. We are at a meeting of Stanford’s undergraduate pre-professional community and I have just asked about financing professional schools. The kindly old man talking to us has just paused, and asks us whether we have questions. I do, “What about —- school debt?” I ask.
He isn’t surprised by the question, he merely nods and begins to answer but the other undergraduates turn around and look at me. There is the swish of dyed, coiffed hair and the Gucci, Chanel and Burberry women attached to these heads turn around to stare at me.

At once, I am otherized.

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REMINDER

by Lina Schmidt, ’15

This article originally discussed only the Boston Marathon bombing. Because it is being posted now, it has been revised to include some events of the past few weeks that are also important to conversations about prejudice and privilege.

A lot of my friends, family, and fellow students at Stanford have been watching the news over the past few months. A lot has occurred: the Boston Marathon bombings, the trial of George Zimmerman and, recently, two Supreme Court decisions with grave implications for the Voting Rights Act and Native tribal sovereignty. These events all have something to do with the way US culture views race and ethnicity or, to its peril, attempts to ignore them.

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