Category Archives: Essays

Being an Immigrant is Hard Enough. Can’t We Just Be Compassionate?

By Ani Kokobobo

I arrived at JFK almost 20 years ago from Albania, a Muslim-majority country then torn apart by political and economic instability. We waited for years for the F-1 visa. I remember starting school and wondering whether I would be able to finish the year before we had to drop everything and leave. I tried to get two tourist visas before my F-1 finally came through. I cannot forget the adolescent embarrassment of showing up in front of US immigration officials with my middle school report cards and letters of recommendation from my teachers in order to make a good impression. Both times we paid significant fees, only so I could be rejected for unexplained reasons. Continue reading

Trump Revisits Vichy’s Rafles

By Robert Zaretsky

Across the country, people woke to the alarming news: police were breaking families apart, assigning fathers and mothers, sons and daughters to legal limbo as they prepared to deport them. Citizens rubbed their eyes, but should not have been surprised. Their newly installed government, led by an aged man with questionable morals, had won support by spinning stories of national decadence and decline. Parading its religious faith while demonizing those who did not share it, protecting the people by creating categories of “others,” the government had already issued a series of laws to realize their program. As for the people, they went about their lives, some thrilled by and others indifferent to the laws. Until, that is, the morning they awoke and saw, with their own eyes, the horrifying human consequences of government decrees. Continue reading

Livilla’s Urn

By Diana Arterian

I went in search of Livilla, of the alabaster that held her ashes. Livilla is a lesser-known figure of ancient Rome. Her brother, the emperor Caligula, damaged the empire with his insanity and spending. Her uncle, the emperor Claudius, healed it some. Her sister Agrippina — the focus of my manuscript-in-progress — ultimately married their uncle and became Empress of Rome. Agrippina places Livilla’s urn, quietly, in the Mausoleum of Augustus some time after her sister’s death.   Continue reading

Man O’ War — Trump Fights Himself

By Jill Frank 

Stasis, the Ancient Greek word for “standstill,” refers to a condition in which opposing forces cancel each other out. We have seen a lot of that in the last eight years. But in stark contrast to the standstill engineered by the “Party of No,” the avowed Republican stonewall of the Obama Administration, there is little doubt that in the weeks, months, and years ahead, the 115th Congress will set off a wave of reactive legislation, undoing Wall Street reforms, altering or repealing healthcare, immigration, tax, and environmental legislation, and approving controversial federal appointments.  Continue reading

Diving into the Wreck: Notes on the Women’s March

By Natalie Coleman

In the swarming subway station at 42nd street, a woman wore rainbow leggings patterned with kitty faces. She held her poster board in a large plastic bag: “I am the daughter of a refugee. I am the American dream.” A mother held her daughter’s hand and a sign — “Respeta Mi Existencia o Espera Resistencia!” — in the other. Police lined the steps to the street, high-fiving protesters as we streamed into the street outside Grand Central Station. Scattered women wore pink knit “pussy” hats in rebellion against Trump’s vile comments about sexual assault. I wore my commemorative Barack Obama 2008 t-shirt in a feeble attempt to transport myself back to the early days of his presidency, attending his rallies with my mother and volunteering for his campaign. Continue reading