So then I asked myself: What if instead of having traditional white male voices be my North Star, how about I am my own North Star? What would happen if I tried to sound like me?
— Phoebe Robinson, comedian, podcaster, actress, and author
A Poem by Girls Write Now Mentee, Senjuti Gayen
Senjuti Gayen Is—
A story to be told.
Moonlight pouring through a large window, filling a library.
Hermione Granger’s biggest fan.
A mess. With wild waves of hair highlighting that particular
An enigma. Her favorite word.
The last breath you take before diving, the one you fill
Crimson lipstick staining lips.
Hungry and ambitious. For a few pomegranate seeds, and a bit
A piano key pressed accidentally.
Lost. She can’t find her map. She had it a few seconds ago.
A curious cat, not yet killed.
The arrangement of a few words, ink pooling at the tip of each
A well of existential dread; don’t fall in.
Trying to write her truths. She wonders, What is the
The wind whispering when the world has hushed.
The sharpness of paper, the bead of blood that builds when it
Afraid of being a mistake personified.
The slinking of a shadow, disappearing into the night.
An action potential on a nerve cell.
An eternal soul. She believes in reincarnation, in the idea of
Living once, and then again.
Purnima: full moon in Bengali. Her unofficial middle name.
When the sun melts into the sky: the light of the evening. That’s
What Senjuti means, after all.
Senjuti Gayen Is—
A story not yet finished.
THE DAY I REALIZED by Girls Write Now Mentee, Ria Parker
The day I realized I was black is a faded memory to me.
For I don’t actually remember
The one moment
When I knew I was black
But I remember watching the news one night
And seeing protesters outside my apartment for Trayvon Martin.
That day along with many others was when
I realized that
People can and will
Hate you just because
Of the color of your skin.
The day I realized I was a girl was when I got told to smile.
Now this may not seem like much to you but anybody
Who identifies as a woman can tell you
The first time they felt less than a human being
Because they were assaulted or harassed.
The day I realized the world was cruel
Was when I saw the tears in one mother’s
Eyes after her child was killed for being gay.
When I saw a child building a fountain out
Of their tears when they were beaten in the foster care system.
I realized this world was cruel when the people
Who are the absolute worst got to walk free, while
Victims and survivors were placed in chains to suffer.
I realized I was an activist
When hearing these stories and those similar
Made my heart ache and break into pieces.
I realized I was an activist when I felt
Like I needed to do something to stop these injustices
Because doing nothing meant I was letting
Ignorance, bigotry, and hate win.
This was the day I realized
That I can’t control people
Act towards a certain race, gender, sexuality, or religion.
But I can control how future generations treat each other.
That was when I realized that I have to be bold and in control,
With no apology.