By Simamkele Mchako
Photo by Rasaan B. c/o nappy.co
“Your father is dead;” my mother told me, with a false casual tone that she uses when trying to avoid an intense and possibly emotional conversation with me. She gave me this only moments before she went to work. She was working the night shift, and as she said goodbye I could see the worry in her eyes. The thought of leaving me alone after such news was a burden that was weighing heavily on her. The year was 2015; I was 18 years old and in Matric. I had only met my father once in my life, in 2004. We never had a relationship that went passed a couple of occasional phone calls. My father’s absence used to bother me a great deal, yet by the time I was 16 I accepted it. I spent a large portion of my adolescents resenting and loathing the man I was told was my father, and the other portion wishing that he could be a prominent figure in my everyday life. I was stuck between trying to convince myself I did not need him, and asking myself if I was to blame for his absence.
by Maame Blue
Photo by Artsy Solomon c/o nappy.co
Don’t all the best stories start this way: at the beginning of the end. Just after things get difficult. This story is about leaving therapy, about being the therapist and walking out. It is about stepping away from a belief system you had given your life to for ten years.
Exiting the work was a process. You move away from the constant simmer of emotions, forget the polyester smell of the couch cushions, and return to the memories of borrowed time and fifty minutes filled with silence, anguish, and trauma. These were the hardest things to do. Can you talk about these things? Or at least try?
by Paolo Bicchieri
Promo art from the Steven Universe episode “Stranded” by Joe Johnston, Cartoon Network.
That’s how many families feel while journeying across the blistering hot and terrifyingly cold Jacumba Desert. It might be a persistent thought as they confront the countless dangers laying like traps in the night. And stranded they feel once they make it to the United States.
The isolation of the American Immigrant Crisis.
One cartoon is capturing the uniqueness of our cultural moment, our tragic pain and shame as a nation. Steven Universe, Cartoon Network’s first female and non-binary led cartoon, is giving viewers instructions on how to love. It is teaching audiences that nontraditional families from different places are heroic.
In the middle of a blistering June, I sat sandwiched on a bench with forty other mostly white American middle and high schoolers in the belly of the largest enclosed tropical botanical garden in southern China. Although the greenery surrounding us was very much real, the giant “tree” that made up the walls of our dining space was fake, carefully molded to look like the bark of a real hundred foot tree. Chinese caterers bustled around us, talking to each other in rapid Cantonese while they pulled white box after white box of prepackaged lunch out from large plastic trash bags.
Your mother has been repeating the story of your natural birth to you for years. The most important details: she kept perming her hair after her water broke because she didn’t want to disturb the doc’s 4th of July. You were a n-a-t-u-r-a-l birth, because holding you > pain. And she couldn’t be bothered with all that hollering during labor like women she’d encountered while working rotations in the hospital as a student. Maybe you entered the world via a mechanical, silent birth. You can’t imagine your mother wincing in pain, as even that acknowledgement would be too emotional. The act of opening her legs for your exit—forget about it.
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