Skip to main content

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail" -- An Excerpt

"Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait."


-- Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Bygones -- by Marina Keegan

I had a dream the other night that I was checking my email.

That dream sucks.



And woke to woes of seniors writing

love songs for tomorrow and

Tomorrow and the melodies

That flirt us forward, whispering

the next thing and the next thing

and  – so we beat on

birds flocking south until we

circle round and realize maybe

maybe all that running wasn’t worth it.



Maybe we should build a cabin.

Or teach high school.

Or use our hands.

My palms are smooth as words –

Weak with fashion and double spaces.



I want everyone else’s club and job and class

The grass I sleep in always browner than

Than that around erasing dreams

To sit and breathe because you

Only bank for two years then it's over

And twenty two is nothing new

It’s just another chance to build

For when we’re twenty three

And twenty four

And time begins to sell for more than

Any 9 a.m. to never.



We’re not stuck.

That's the thing, we're not stuck.

We owe no one our nothings.

Yale will be what it was,

Gothic dreams of lucky, of…

Day 351: You can place your bets, world.

I started the day with a grave mistake -- eating butter chicken for breakfast. Those ten minutes of scream-inducing euphoria were hardly worth the sluggish pace and sessile nature of the rest of my day. I attempted to counteract the unfailing lethargy which results from consumption of Punjabi food by swallowing down some coffee ice cream, thereby only adding to my foods-that-should-not-be-eaten-for-breakfast list and exacerbating the problem.


We left home before noon for Shenandoah National Park, with hot air ballooning dreams for the day. We soon learned, however, that due to impending thunderstorms, this mission would not be successful. We instead spent the day exploring the side of the park we've never seen before.


We had a lunch of fried chicken at one of the park's rest stops before piling back in the car and driving around some more. At a lookout point, we met a park ranger who showed us the coat of a lynx found in the park and suggested a trail for us to hike. We fou…

My Move to Mumbai: Frequently Asked Questions

Hello, dear readers!

By now, you've probably heard the news: in Ratna's-gap-year fashion, I've taken a leap and moved to Mumbai for a one-year consultancy with Aangan Trust, a nonprofit that works to make sure that even the most vulnerable child has the right to a childhood free from trafficking, child marriage, child labor, and abuse.

Transitions are tough, and it turns out that this one is no different, even though it's one that I've chosen for myself and been very excited about for a while. It's one thing to pack up your bags from New York and move to a new place in Mumbai; it's quite another to adjust to the daily reminders of the little things you don't yet understand about where you live, and the small ways in which you don't fit in.

Part of what has made the transition tricky is a stream of (well-intentioned) questions that sometimes make me feel like I have to justify why I made the choice to be here. These can be hard for me because someti…