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By Maryam Monalisa Gharavi
Whose universal is it anyway? South/South 2009-2012
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If You’re Feeling Directional











I love the -ward words.


Even wayward and downward hold a positive charge.

There is a messianic American Puritanism in these words that I identify with a strongly swung pendulum, all Calvinist pull and sway.

When I look up the etymology I learn of -weard (Old English) from a Germanic (of course!) root meaning ‘turn.’

To move up- or east- or home- involves a necessary transformation, whether one arrives intact or dissolves into a fiery crash.

In high school the driver’s ed teacher taught us about momentum and kinetic energy and motion and centrifugal force, and it was the most vivid course in physics I ever got, even if accidentally useful, because my father actually taught me to drive on a manual ’89 Taurus, and the actual physics classes mostly involved our Vietnamese teacher’s futile attempts at getting a prominent Supreme Court justice’s daughter and her boyfriend to stop mercilessly mocking his accent. But I digress.

It’s that directional movement inside a stillness—the miracle of depth inside its own container¹—that the -ward words signify for me: strap up, chin forward, and pull yourself up tightly by the lapels young man, young lady, regardless of where the wheels are headed.


—“but was it a peaceful protest?”


◊     ◊     ◊

I was looking at a picture of Hamoudeh—Mohammad Azzehs’ nickname—being carried to a waiting ambulance. He was bleeding profusely, and in obvious pain. A co-worker asked about the picture, and I told her that my friend was shot the day before protesting against the Israeli occupation. He is only 15 years old, and we don’t know if he’ll live or die, I told her. Apparently blind to the wounded, bleeding 15-year-old child in the picture, she replied coolly, “Yeah, but was it a peaceful protest?” Her response is an example of the casually, yet deeply held assumptions of most Americans regarding Palestine. Despite the grossly uneven contest between flak-jacketed, helmeted Israeli soldiers armed with an array of fully automatic weapons, small arms, tanks, armored vehicles, and sniper rifles, and the unprotected, unarmed teenaged children waving Palestinian flags and throwing stones with sling-shots, Palestinians are held guilty for any and all violence. Americans are conditioned to not see Palestinians, to not see Palestine.

Update: More than 15 Capoeira groups are holding solidarity rodas, including:

  1. Ramallah — Capoeira Freedom Collective Palestine
  2. Valencia, Bahia — Fundação International Capoeira Angola (FICA)
  3. Rio de Janeiro — Kabula
  4. Rio de Janeiro — Caxias
  5. Sao Jose dos Campos, Sao Paulo — Angoleiros do Sertao
  6. Rio Grande do Norte
  7. Washington DC — FICA
  8. New York — Grupo Acupe
  9. Chicago — FICA
  10. London — Capoeira Angola South London
  11. Oxford — Angoleiros do Mar
  12. Lyon — Cabula
  13. Bologna — Angola Dobrada
  14. Valencia, Spain — Filhos de Angola
  15. Berlin, Germany
  16. Amman — Vale da Lua
  17. Bologna — Angola Dobrada

Postcard from the Internet


Dear __________,

If you are an allochthonous being, a rock or precarious tree rooted out from one soil and transplanted elsewhere, you cannot ever take genealogy for granted.

Where the others can trace down to the specific historical vehicle or bloodlinewho brought whom where, with whom, which way, and howyou will be left to sift through the occasional photograph, the odd homeland trip, or bit of family gossip, dimly searching for the fragments of a shadowy century (or two, at most three). There is no suitable ancestry dot com for the immigrant.

But as I was moving through life saddened by the truth of this scattered sedimentation and exclusion from the world of heritage discovery, the internet came through for me, because kneeling in the lower-right hand corner of this 66-year old photograph—discovered by chance in an article on national Iranian football teams—is my grandfather.