by Nelle C, 11th
That green paper that changes people in a good or bad way when they have too much
That green paper is what makes the world go round
Traveling from one person to another
That green paper is called money
Gold digger’s looking at the next person to see if their wallet is full of that green
Money hungry people trying to make a name for themselves
Black men losing their lives to the system or graveyard trying to get full of that green fast money
Women settling for less using there bodies instead of their knowledge to get that green paper
Money is money is what they say
But to others
They believe that the money people in poverty make is not worth as much as their “clean” money
Those who struggle don’t care what kind of money it is
Which is what the wealthy doesn’t understand
Those who struggle rather die getting it fast then live with is coming slower
Those who have too much of that green let the money make them
Nothing in this world is free
Money hungry people trying to make it in a money hungry world
by Dani, 11th (non-fiction)
ALWAYS wake up in a good mood, or else questions like “¿Que paso..ahora que traes?” will come at you like bullets. Say you’re fine and tired, even if yesterday’s argument is consuming you. Get dressed and ready! But don’t forget to cover up your toasted skin because it will attract savages named men- as Mama says. Some days you’ll take a risk, but after 10 minutes of your body illuminating, you turn off its brightness because you don’t feel comfortable with it. It’s imprinted and you don’t know how to stop it. You hop into the car and stare out the window. Suddenly, you hear your Ma call your name. Expect “reminders” that your attitude must be leveled down, that you must not disagree with her. Mom is always right. After all, she took risks for you. We understand that. You pop in your earphones and let your mind drown into the soft tunes. You try to hold back your tears- it’s hard to. Pretend to yawn and smile. That’s the best way to play it off.
You’ve arrived at school and even though it’s full of lessons and assignments, you feel your body loosen from your parents’ grip. Your laugh and smile almost authentic and your mind is almost at ease. 5:30 arrives, sweat trails down your back and face, but you still walk slower. What should take you 2 minutes, takes 10. You get in the car, everything seems fine. Relax and start up a conversation. You’re curious and ask about sexual and mental health. Mom looks in the rearview mirror and your Dad continues to stare at his phone. Big mistake. “¿Y porque quieres saber de eso? Que andas haciendo?” Don’t be surprised by the lecture that’s coming your way. Mama states that she didn’t sacrifice everything for you to be focus on things that affect your well-being. Stick to the books, the books are your best friends. Focus your mind on assignments and daily studying. Do it all for your parents… and maybe, just maybe, for yourself.
The weekend flies through the door and hear your relatives are visiting. Get ready to look after the kids while your Mom and tias prepare the food and the stench of alcohol fills your Dad and uncles’ breath. Don’t be shocked when drunken opinions slam the table hard. You feel an urge to disagree, but you stop yourself. Mama understands your frustration, but your uncles live in older times, where men are always right and women and the youth stand out of their way. Accept their sexist and controversial norms or beware of being stared down at every family reunion. Your dad knows you, but don’t feel betrayed when he stands tall with his brothers. He can’t be seen as a “mandilon” or weak to his daughter’s beliefs.
Go to your Ma and release your anger. Explain it’s difficult to hear because you learned and were brought up a different way. She’ll gaze, then stare hard like predator and prey and be offended. Mama will argue that you’re giving into the silly American culture. Your eyes will want to go white as you recall bugging her about your ethnic culture, as well as its traditional practices- in which she responded, “We’re not too committed.” Don’t feel hurt when she calls you a “wannabe gringa” and that you’re ashamed of who you are. You’ll stand there for a minute or so, fighting the strong current of tears. Try not to half-ass your smile, make her believe you agree. Say “yes, Ma”, turn around and don’t say anything else. Remember everything they’ve done for you. They have the right to demean you. Keep everything to yourself, just like the perfect daughter should do.
by A.W., 11th (poetry)
A doorway in, a pathway out
Ordinary, indifferent, and undistinguished
Unappealing, rather, it’s handle already rusted away
And it’s frame, cracked, bent, and broken
But it leads to something else; and as you step through
You might look back, only to see that it has changed
It remains quite perfectly intact; handle polished and shining
And it has a finish to it, that leaves it standing out
Now you start to wonder why you ever questioned its presence
Finding yourself in a land full of everything you ever wanted
Nothing has changed; instead, you’ve opened up
You’ve turned dreams into reality
But is this even a life worth living?
Where everything is handed to you on a silver platter
And while it’s anyone’s utopia
It’s still not what you expected
No doorway, no pathway, it’s gone
You dreamed this up, but it’s become your reality
And now you’re trapped, with no way out
No middle ground, it was all or nothing
And you chose the same path as countless souls before you
But nothing is everything; A reality of it’s own
And you chose it all, what a selfish fool!
Oakland | East Bay, CA