Protestors outside Rochester City Hall, New York. Photo by HENRY LITSKY.

It’s a few hours to midnight at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Rochester, New York. Music plays as a few thousand people of different ages, races, and ethnicities gather on the grass. Pizza and snacks are up for grabs, a few people are smoking and drinking, flying drones and clenched fists decorate the air, and people are passing out phone numbers.

Sam Cooke’s “Change is Going to Come” accompanies the crowd’s silent moment before they start moving. …


Photo by Yassine Khalfalli on Unsplash

A professor asks you a question you happen to know the answer to, you have all the words at the tip of your tongue, ready to snatch up points for the participation grade but there’s just one problem: the thought of raising your hand in a packed auditorium conjures up images of a boa constrictor around your throat. In just a split of a second, you have managed to shred your unsaid answer to a thousand pieces, judged yourself and decided it was too imperfect and not worth stumbling over your words, looking anxious, or appearing boring, stupid, or incompetent.


(How) can a place where I grew up in feel so foreign?

Photo by Jacques Nel on Unsplash

Home is a place of general security and relative comfort. It’s a cushion against the backdrop of a chaotic world, or a home town usually far away from the hustle and bustle, and stings of life.

Going home at the end of my second year of studying abroad, I realized that I had lost touch with the utopian humble abode which — if hadn’t shaped my entire upbringing — framed most of my formative experiences. Home seemed even more foreign than the foreign country in which I was continuing my higher education.

The first couple of weeks back home were…


The 17th-century contact with European conquerors, the history of genocide and forced migration, and broken political treaties continues to disadvantage Native communities in Western New York and the country as a whole.

The UofR’s River Campus and the Bausch and Lomb Riverside Park sit on an ancient Native American town, in which the hunter/gatherer Algonquin (Algonkin) native peoples lived. According to the Rochester Alumni Review, the Senecas of the League of the Iroquois possessed this territory at the time of the arrival of the Europeans.

Starting in the early 1920s, the New York Historical Association began erecting historical markers “to…


Image by Redietu Haile

When we have conversations about race, it is usually in response to racist-induced incidents like when a white college student calls the cops on a black student for sleeping in a common area, some students wear blackface, or somebody hangs bananas from nooses around campus. Although these are awfully disgusting events which deserve to be condemned, focus on them often means we tend to overlook the daily role that race plays in the lives of people of color. …


When talking to Africans, the first thing is to look them straight in the eye, and mouth every word carefully and in slow cadences to make sure they can understand you. Make sure your every word drips with the sympathy that they came from a far country. Understand that the only reason they are here, far from choice, is the pursuit of refuge, peace, and happiness — everything they previously didn’t have. Keep in mind that theirs is not a quest for exploration, but for western education and something tangible to take back to their war-ridden tribes and villages.

Let…


From having your name spelled incorrectly on a Starbucks cup even after spelling out every single letter to the barista, to observing a room freeze into empathetic silence after everyone notices your foreign accent, even dismissing you as speech-impaired or unintelligent — living with a foreign accent is difficult.

Accents can be the beginning of intriguing conversations, launching people into inquisitive worlds in which to explore one another’s cultures and backgrounds. However, they can also induce demoralizing interactions, and often humiliating experiences.

For instance, recently a nice gentleman who looked to be in his 40s noticed my accent, and asked…


URDU team at the 11th Annual Yale Inter-Varsity Parliamentary Debate Tournament. Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. October 28th, 2018.

Recently, there have been many conversations in our community related to uncomfortable subjects such as the nature of gun violence, racial privilege, acts of terrorism, and racism. Although we acknowledge the existence of these issues and to some extent talk about them, those discussions usually don’t progress beyond our regular social circles or past social media activism — tweets, shares, likes.

Obviously, there are reasons behind this “safe” way in which we regularly tend to approach social issues — including a culture of conflict aversion and an avoidance of microaggression. …

Sakhile Ntshangase

Mildly seasoned thoughts that might get you smiling, thinking, inspired, or even completely unmoved.

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