By Evi Salguero
I try to shield my ears like the hear no evil monkey.
I try not to look at her.
But she hits her target.
Her name is Medusa.
But who am I?
“Qui est lá?”
“Qui est lá?”
I wish I could tell you but I can’t.
My wings are clipped.
I tried to escape the fire…
I went down to the river
To wash my name, to cleanse my impurity
To reclaim my identity,
“This last winning over the traitor body.”
The only way to win is to escape
Escape the hatred, escape the dishonor.
Shun the record
“Dog, filth, the Africans will eat you to death”
You can take away my sanity
You can impose on my peace
You can misconstrue my death
You can pretend you don’t hear me
But I speak.
I dance in my red dress
I grow in my garden.
Not to the same degree
But I face othering too
As I study to earn my CompSci degree
I hear “Computer Science isn’t for” you
And I ask, “What do you mean?”
To hear: “You can’t think like we…do”
It’s not you…though
We’re just “wired” differently
Your brain can’t handle the fast pace stress
You will always be
I thought maybe I’ll only face this academically
But it’s in my churches too.
It wasn’t Adam, it was Eve who was deceived.
So, my identity flickers,
Pushed by the winds of society.
But I smile because
Women’s day parade
And growing equal pay.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
We too speak.
Imagining a better reality
Evi Salguero is a freshman Computer Science major at Georgia Institute of Technology. In the poem above she explores the relationship between othering and the subaltern’s identity. In the poem, she argues that even though social and cultural forces often negatively impact subaltern women, they can still assert their own identities. She draws inspiration from characters in postcolonial literature, including Antoinette in Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea and Elizabeth in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power. She refers to Gayatri Spivak’s anecdote about Bhubaneswari Bhaduri’s suicide, as well as her personal experiences as a woman in the STEM field and in practicing her religion. The poem also alludes to a Google’s software engineer’s memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” and recent advancements in feminist activism such as Women’s Day celebration and efforts to achieve equality in the workforce.
*This poem’s featured image can be found here.