Ocasio-Cortez/Nixon

Side by side, the New York candidates’ differences shone

By Saira Khan

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a Q.A. at Mic’s headquarters in TriBeCa, hosted by Mic’s founder Jake Horowitz, between Cynthia Nixon, who is running for governor of New York City, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, from the Bronx, the 28-year-old who is poised to become the youngest Congresswoman ever.

The conversation was brief, a little less than an hour, and the format was simple: Horowitz asked the questions, the women answered. Nixon and Ocasio-Cortez, who are both Democratic Socialists, are among the record number of women running for office this year, in light of Trump’s election, no doubt.

Until November of last year, Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender in the Bronx. Nixon, who most of us recognize from “Sex and the City” fame, is an Emmy-award winning actress, who has been in the industry since 1980. Neither woman has any experience in politics. And that’s about all they have in common.

Seeing them speak, side-by-side, I was struck by how animated and earnest Ocasio-Cortez was, and by comparison, how rehearsed Nixon was, who name-checked Governor Andrew Cuomo whenever she could. While Nixon still has a fight ahead of her at the polls, her attacks on Cuomo felt like a distraction from the fact that she didn’t seem to have much to contribute. The first question that Horowitz asked was about the Trump Administration’s immigration policy, which Nixon deflected to Ocasio-Cortez, initially making it seem like she was giving Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina, the space to answer. But as the event progressed, Nixon deflected more and more of the questions to Ocasio-Cortez, who, at one point, even asked Nixon if she had anything to add, noting that she had been doing most of the talking.

The only time when Nixon shone was when Horowitz asked her about possibly running under another party’s ballot in the event that she loses the Democratic primary, similar to rumors that are floating around about Joe Crowley, who lost the primary to Ocasio-Cortez.

“I want to point out though that Governor Cuomo may also face the same situation when I win the Democratic primary. I’m not the only person on another ballot line. Andrew Cuomo is actually on two different ballot lines… I don’t mind being asked this question, what I do mind is how Andrew Cuomo is never asked this question.”

Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, elicited many “woos” from the audience, and while she started the event guarded, by the end she let the Bronx-girl in her out–calling out male politicians for holding women back. I’m going to include the full, long quote here because it feels like a disservice to Ocasio-Cortez to edit this down:

“Congress is 80% male, that’s embarrassing y’all. Congress is 80% male which means that there are massive blind spots in how we pursue legislation that deals with health care, equal rights, pay, etc, but also I think that when government is so overwhelmingly male, Cynthia Nixon would be the first female governor of the state, when government is so overwhelmingly male, the only way for us to get seats is to be given permission to run. So then we have to cause trouble to claim our seat, we have to. People are saying ‘oh you’re doing this, you’re destroying the party, you’re too young, you’re not ready, you’re naive, you’re uneducated, blah blah blah.’ That is what I’ve been told and that is what women have been have been told their whole lives whenever they want to do anything ambitious so you know what? Screw it. They’re gonna say it, cause some trouble, get that 50%, get that parity, get that gender-expanding representation in office, cause you gotta claim it, you gotta take it. Cause I’m sorry, sorry, if I’m gonna wait for the 80% of dudes in Congress to give me permission, I’m gonna be 80 by then!”

It’s hard to argue with Ocasio-Cortez’s point, but with the primary a little less than three months away, I’m alarmed by Nixon’s lackluster performance–she’s taking on a seven-year incumbent from a political family, and is polling 36 points behind. Nixon may have taken on some of Ocasio-Cortez’s platform, but what she really needs to do is soak up some of her authenticity, otherwise, come September, she’ll be in trouble.

You can watch parts of the QA here. 

15 Things That Might Just Happen When the L Train Shuts Down

The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

By Frida Oskarsdottir

In New York, the subway falls under the umbrella of things people are as quick to defend to outsiders as they are to deride to their fellow citymen, like cash-only everything, or muggings. Brief commutes are heralded; half empty rush hour trains are discussed in the hushed tone usually reserved for urban legends. We console each other about our missed appointments, and the cramped compartments wherein people refuse to heed the conductor’s pleas to please, stand clear of the closing doors. 

New York City’s transit system is a clusterfuck the most complex in the world, with its twenty four subway lines spanning 659 miles of track, and that’s without the 5700 buses. So many moving parts and an average of 5.7 million riders each day make it a struggle for the city to find the stressors that most need addressing to avoid disaster and to keep commuters happy, or whatever the word is for when you don’t see a penis on the train.

One teeny-tiny wrench in the already strained system is the apocalyptic 15-month shutdown of the L train slated to begin April 2019. The L is the quickest way from Brooklyn to Manhattan and the lifeblood of 400,000 daily riders. So far, the MTA’s plan for mitigating the impact of the shutdown has been met with audible groans skepticism and continued uncertainty for how its policies will play out. The countdown clock has officially begun, so here are some prophecies for what might happen on that first fateful day.

1. New Yorkers will recognize they’re all in this together, and face the challenges of the shutdown with respect and dignity for their fellow commuters.

2. Just kidding – you will get hit by a train after a wave of rerouted passengers becomes a rat king-esque cluster of intertwined arms and legs, moving as one, squirming until it shoves you off the platform.

3. A new app will help you calculate how many items on your person you would have to barter in order to take a the newly surcharged Lyft home instead of waiting six hours for the train at 1 a.m.

4. Private vehicles may see serious restrictions from the city, following in the footsteps of other progressive metropoles. As a result, flowers will spring forward through the pavement, lush green will overcome the concrete jungle. Man and beast will once again live in harmony.

5. You will get hit by a car because someone’s grandma who has been taking the L train like a champion for the last 20 years had to renew her license to make it to her craft circle. But don’t worry, it will have more than 3 riders in thanks to the HOV3 requirement.

6. The soar in Lyft Line and Uber Pool prices will make way for new ride-sharing experiences – think PiggyBack and WheelBarrow. These will also double as dating apps.

7. You’ll save money by cancelling your gym membership – who needs it with all the extra steps it takes to walk over the Williamsburg Bridge? Bonus: the angrier you are, the faster you’ll go!

8. Despite the fact that bus ridership in New York City has decreased by over 100 million rides over the past eight years and is the slowest out of all big cities in the nation, everyone will seamlessly switch to buses and for sure make it to work on time during rush hour.

9. You will get hit by a bus.

10. Anyone remember this article about a woman in San Francisco who wakes up at 2:15 am to get to work by 7:00 am? Don’t worry if not, you’ll have time to read it again while you’re tucking yourself in at 5:00 pm.

11. The new additional cars on the G train, until now the stumpiest of all lines, will serve as makeshift studio apartments for those who have had to sell their billion dollar Williamsburg properties at a loss.

12. On April 1st, 2019, 1-2% of The Rerouted will take the form of cyclists, removing the tags from their spandex and strapping on their shiny new helmets, triumphant in newfound liberty and pursuit of a fun and exhilarating personal commute since the city’s plan proposes a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th Street, the first in Manhattan.

13. You will get hit by a bike, because all of a sudden there are thousands of uneasy bikers on Manhattan’s only crosstown two-way protected bike lane.

14. #EastRivering will trend when a desperate workforce population braves a swim in the murky green waters rather than sit on the stopped J train for another second.

15. Everything will be OK because New York is the greatest fuckin’ city on Earth and I’m walkin’ here alright???

Survival Guide: Staying Alive While Biking in the City

Biking in the city is no joke. Shaky novices and seasoned cyclists alike share the streets with pedestrians, cabs, and trucks. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Introducing our shiny and new High-Strung Survival Guides—carefully crafted and curated to help you dive into new tasks, embark on daunting adventures, and make it out of missteps alive. We’ll give you tips on what works for us (and what doesn’t) so that you don’t have to go it alone.

Step 1: Read our survival guide. Step 2: Execute your plan flawlessly. Enjoy!

By Frida Oskarsdottir

Biking in New York City is no joke. Shaky novices and seasoned cyclists alike share the streets with pedestrians, cabs, trucks, and delivery drivers. Roads converge and end abruptly, car doors swing open and potholes materialize without warning.

Biking in the city is also really fun. I’m far from a cycling expert, but what I do know is that there should be more of us. If more people hopped on their bikes a few times a week, the city would have less traffic congestion and pollution, we’d get more exercise, and the powers that be might consider better infrastructure for us in the future. It’s also easier to empathize with people who use non-traditional forms of transportation when you have tried them out yourself. Also, did I mention it’s fun?

The following are some of the ways I equip myself to get on my Panasonic road bike every morning and cruise into the sunset. Ok it’s like 8:30 am when I leave the house but you get it. If you already ride your bike every day, especially in one of those nifty spandex getups, this probably isn’t new information. If your ride has been gathering dust in the basement for the last two years or you don’t own a bike but you’ve stepped in one too many mystery puddles at the train stop and are considering other options, read on, my friend, read on.

Use Google Maps

I’ve been living in the city since 2015. Some days I think I own this town, but most days I have to tap open that little green app while hissing “How the fuck would I know which way is east?” I know some people prefer to learn their way around organically without the aid of technology, but Google Maps is my savior. It’s incredibly useful since the algorithm attempts to lead you down less heavily trafficked roads with bike lanes. It’s also a nice motivator when you are heading out and see that the train will take 37 minutes but biking will take 11. Take control of your destiny, grasshopper!

The Bike Lane, a Fair-weather Friend

One important lesson imparted on us by George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” applies here: all bike lanes are equal, but some are more equal than others. Some areas have lovely two-way protected bike lanes that place a barrier of some kind between automobile traffic and cyclists. These are usually painted green. Enjoy them and tell your local representatives that you want more! The majority are not so luxurious, however. Often bike lanes puts cyclists between two persistently dangerous objects – moving and parked cars.

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You really find the darndest things in the bike lane//Bed-Stuy

Pro tip: get used to it and stay alert. Don’t expect anyone to follow the rules (this is good advice for life in general) and don’t think that just because you’re biking within two lines on the street that you are any less susceptible to the elements. For instance, cars in motion tend to look out for cyclists whereas someone in a parked car may not think twice before opening the door into a bike lane. Think of the bike lane as your frenemy; it’s better than not having one at all but you still have to watch your back.

Wear a helmet, but don’t be a brat about it

I always wear a helmet. Does this mean I’m a nerd? Is it the right thing to do? Should you wear one? Great questions, all around. A bit of backstory, if I may: I wear a helmet because before I moved to the city I suffered two separate falls off my bike within a few months of each other, one resulting in a frightening concussion. So, I sacrifice hair volume for my own peace of mind. Howeverand this is a big however, I do not advocate the all-too-common notion of shaming cyclists for choosing to not wear helmets.

Why, Frida, why?

Because forcing cyclists to choose between wearing a helmet or facing public disapprobation means fewer people will ride their bikes. In addition, it contributes to the idea that biking is an inherently unsafe practice, which it is not. What can make it unsafe is poor urban planning, lack of infrastructure such as consistent and well-designed bike lanes, and uneven education for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike on how to share the city. We tend to give greater support to drivers and walkers because they are in the majority.

Given the statistics on traffic deaths each year, pedestrians, runners, and drivers would also benefit from wearing helmets, but we don’t require this of them, which is an important indicator of the way we perceive biking. There is also evidence to show that drivers react more aggressively to cyclists wearing helmets than to those without.

All of that being said, I personally would recommend getting used to wearing a helmet if you’re a bit nervous on the road. They come in all kinds of cute colors and styles and of course, protect your noggin. Wearing one makes me a more confident rider, which is a big part of what keeps me safe.

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I forced my partner to take this picture after we biked over the Manhattan Bridge for the first time. I’m great.

Cycling While Listening

Riding to work in the morning gives you a chance to see the city yawn and blink its eyes open. I personally do so while listening to a podcast, considering I am pretty much useless if I’m alone in public and not listening to something. As with wearing a helmet, this is a topic of some debate, and I want to stress that this is not a suggestion but just another motivator for me that might work for you if you need one. In New York, cyclists are allowed to ride while listening to a single earphone, a rule I follow. Consider driving a car while listening to the radio or running while listening to music. Since podcasts are just people talking at normal levels, I feel comfortable that I can pay attention to my surroundings and hear any honks or brakes that I need to (as well as catcalls that I don’t, sigh).

If you do choose to listen to an episode of “2 Dope Queens” or “Modern Love” on your ride, be prepared: people may look at you strangely when you burst into tears or laughter while in the saddle. It comes with the territory. Embrace it. If you’re single, consider how mysterious and intriguing you look to potential mates with smudged mascara and a single tear atop your cruiser. Work it.

You will sweat. It’s fine.

One of the greatest parts of riding around New York City is that it is SO. FLAT. Of course, there are the occasional slopes and riding over any bridges will take a good bit of exertion, but compared to a lot of other places it is smooth sailing. Regardless, you will sweat. You’re exercising! Some people might take this as a reason not to bike to work in the morning or to a place where they have to look nice.

Fear not!

While I’m lucky enough to have a lax dress code at my job and showing up a bit damp under the pits isn’t a serious situation, there are plenty of solutions for what to wear during and how to remain presentable after a ride. Companies like BetaBrand have entire “Bike to Work” lines and there are lots of fun tutorials for how to keep your helmet from crushing your bangs to death. To be fair, I haven’t invested in clothing specifically for biking or been able to save my bangs from smooshing but if those are your priorities you have lots of options.

Lock it up

I have had not one but two bikes snatched out from under me within the first year of living in the Big Dirty Apple. This made me feel like a dumb yokel who can’t lock her bike up. Which, I guess, I kind of was. The first bike I bought on Craigslist when I moved to the city came with an old chain lock that I was all too eager to use without realizing how dingy it was, making it easy for some teens (probably) to grab when I left it locked out front of my apartment overnight (see also: I’m lazy) The second time around I learned: DON’T LOCK TO THIS, DUMMY!

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The Enemy

No matter how expensive your new lock is, if you use it on a piece of scaffolding that an ambitious thief can easily unscrew and slide off, it doesn’t really matter. That said, you should invest in a good lock provided you actually use it appropriately. The best locks are pretty heavymy current choice is the aptly named Fahgettaboudit from Kryptoniteso I’ve got a cute little rack on the back of my current bike for storing it:

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I mean, look at this beauty. The third time’s the charm. Doesn’t it call to you?

Keep Doing It

Habits are difficult to break. There’s always a reason not to ride your bike – it’s too hot, it’s too windy, it’s too far. You’re tired, you don’t want to carry your bike down the stairs, you have nowhere to lock it. I promise that you will find a routine that works for you and it will be good. Like, really good.

If nothing else, you can high-five other cyclists during your commute. Regardless of your ideas about biking, give it a try. It doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle change or cultural shift, just remember that you have a right to alternative modes of getting around. Find what works for you – you may be surprised what you learn about yourself and your home.  

For more bike-related news and helpful information that isn’t based solely on Frida’s Personal Experiences™, check out some of these organizations:

11 Moms in NYC Share Their Advice on Motherhood

We hit the streets of New York City and asked eleven women to share their best advice about being a mom.

Photographs by Sara Afzal, Introduction by Gabrielle Sierra

As six women who have yet to embark on the incredible journey that is motherhood, we wanted to capture some of the extraordinary moms we see around the city every day. Whether they are taking their kids to the park, consoling them after a tumble or dragging them along to get groceries at Trader Joe’s, these mothers impress and amaze us with their ability to guide, love, teach and protect another human being.

We hit the streets and asked eleven women to offer the best advice they could about being a mom.

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Marsha McGogney 44 | Occupational Therapist | West Village, Manhattan, NY| Josephine, 2 

“You need a ‘village’ because ‘it takes a village.’ Giving our daughter as much time as possible around other kids every day, I think, is working for her. My husband’s native culture of staying connected to community is the driving force behind keeping her connected to other kids. I think…that accessing her village of kids makes her happy.”

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Rahna Jalashgar | 33 | Administrative assistant | Tribeca, Manhattan, NY | Leo, 2.5 months

“I kind of had a difficult pregnancy and had a lot of anxiety. My mom told me this is your first test as a mother. Every time you are upset and anxious it affects the baby and your first test is how to take care of that and smooth it over. Being a parent isn’t just feeding a child, you have to be mentally healthy as well. You don’t know what kind of parent you’re going to be until the baby comes.”

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Gem Stone | 32 | Construction project manager | East Village, Manhattan, NY | Sofie, 7 weeks

“The advice I got from my mom was ‘don’t look at the baby’s diapers (as in don’t focus too much on the poop or number of pees), look at the baby’s face.’ If the baby seems happy, she’s healthy.”

“I would say to pregnant women, birthing is a very human experience, learn as much as you can about what your body will go through beforehand so you can be present during the labor and birth. Also keep your core tight- pushing a baby out is like doing the most intense sit ups EVER.”

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Alisha Bhagat (8.5 months pregnant) | 34 | Brooklyn, NY | Senior sustainability advisor and futurist | Shirin, 2 

“With kids everything is a phase that will eventually pass. This is a reminder to enjoy the good times as morning snuggles and unfiltered toddler joy won’t last forever. It also means that tantrums, sleepless nights, and potty training will also someday pass.”

“Sometimes women feel that they need to spend every second of their free time with their kids. There is no need to sacrifice your own hobbies, interests, and identity for your children – you will be miserable. The happiest mothers I know are those who are able to make time for their own personal lives outside of parenting. Children are such a blessing, but they should integrate into your life, not take it over.”

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Pakiza Rassoul | 36 | Community outreach liaison for a nonprofit | Nolita, Manhattan, NY | Frankie, 9 months

“Not every child is the same. I tell everyone to have patience. When you are pregnant you get a hell of a lot of advice more than you know what to do with.”

“We live in New York City so you got to use your surroundings. Nolita is our oyster. Take in what the city has to offer and don’t feel like because you’re a mom you have to stay home and be held captive. “

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Titi Michelich (6 months pregnant) | 40 | Head of operations for a creative agency | Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY | Rita, 3, Dante, 5 

“I’ve been a working mom the whole time. As an entrepreneur, I’ve been able to manage my job while having kids since I have more flexibility to work part time if I need to. An aunt of mine told me when you’re at home it’s good to put your work to rest and more important to focus on your children –not to try to do both things at the same time.”

“Even if we live in a city and urban environment, we can spend lots of time outside. Whether going to parks and playgrounds, or walking around the city. We also go to museums and theaters. There is so much to do with kids and you can still enjoy the cultural movement here.”

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Chrissy Shrider | 37 | Artist | Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY | Nora and Ruby, 2-year old twins (not pictured: Lucia, 5) 

“I’d say, pay attention to how you spend your time and really be present. I think it’s important to make time in between all the things that need to get done everyday and just really focus on being with your kids and bonding. It’s those little moments in the day to day routine that you may not think much of at the time but they turn out to be cherished memories that stick.”

“Enjoy your surroundings and stop to soak in the little things. This city is filled with amazing adventures for kids to explore. There’s always something to do but I find it really special when we move slowly and enjoy our journey of the day, whatever it may be. Sometimes just stopping to look at a worm on the sidewalk turns into a silly moment that we’ll never forget.”

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Kathy Fusco | 41 | Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY | Creative Director| Lila, 1.5

“The first few months are hard. People don’t always talk about that. You might have some shower cries and question whether you can do this. YOU CAN. The beginning is all about survival. It gets easier and way more fun!”

“In New York City, Buy your neighbors bottles of wine when sleep training!”

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Amanda Banks | 3Former preschool teacher Manhattan, NY | Jack 2.5, Alexander, 6 months

“My aunt told me the days are long and the years are short. You want to really enjoy every moment with your kids and get through the day by being present in the moment and not being too busy.”

“I am trying to be a ‘minimalist mom.’ It can be tough bc here in NYC we are constantly exposed to so much, stores full of baby gear and toys, ‘the best’ schools and classes for our children.’ It can feel like too much at times. I try to keep things simple, keeping a small amount of toys in our apartment and utilizing the city (with its museums and parks) as much as possible for learning opportunities and playtime.”

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Shadean Runyen 44 | Risk Management Director and CPA | Santa Barbara, CA (visiting NYC) | Sasha, 14 (not pictured: Gabe, 11, Noah, 9, Zachary, 8) 

“I think the best advice has been to remind your kids that they need to always love each other and support each other. Siblings need to take care of each other and always have each other’s back. It’s easy for sibling relationships to drift apart and disconnect. For my husband and I, one of the most important things we want for our kids is to know that they will always have each other.”

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Nina Costantino | 40 | Vintage Reseller | Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York | Nicholas, 9 months

“Don’t be afraid to be silly; laugh at yourself and clown around with your baby, just go all out and be willing to make a fool out of yourself. I think a lot of people might feel self-conscious or embarrassed. Maybe it’s done behind closed doors so we don’t always see it. Don’t take yourself or the situation too seriously. Take a deep breath and laugh. It’s not the end of the world.”

“The best advice I’ve ever received was from a friend my age and mother of a 3 and 4 year old her name is Loury. As a mother you come first even if the baby is crying hysterically take care of your needs first. You can’t take care of them unless you care for yourself. Before you step away, make sure your baby is in a safe and secure area.”

15 People on What Makes Them Feel Powerful

We asked these people to strike a pose and tell us what makes them feel powerful.

By Sara Afzal

We all know that power comes from within. But sometimes it is the armor we wear on the outside that gives us the boost we need to feel ready to face the world. Whatever the item or style, what you wear (or don’t wear) is a way to convey how you feel about yourself, to bring your inner power to the outside.

We asked 15 people in New York City to strike a pose and take a moment to tell us what makes them feel powerful.

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Katherine Castañeda, 31 | Project Architect | Brooklyn, New York

“I don’t derive power from what I put on in the morning. I think it comes from confidence – how you feel about yourself, your state of mind, your attitude. Clothes in a sense carry that with you. You make yourself powerful and then whatever you put on reflects that.”

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Olivia Perez, 25 | Portrait Photographer | Brooklyn, New York

“My attitude and confidence speak a lot more to power than what I am wearing. I find a lot of fashion actually brings me down. I’ve worn lipstick for years. I’m inspired by the minimal look –just some lipstick and eyeshadow.”

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Cleopatra Joseph, 32 | Senior Finance Business Analyst | New York, New York

“When I am happy with who I am, I always feel powerful.  Having the freedom to travel often and experience what the world has to offer makes me feel empowered. Being the only female among my peers at work makes me feel powerful as a woman. The way my outfit moves with the wind lets me embrace the power of mother nature.”

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Katie Hakala, 29 | Writer and Editor | Brooklyn, New York

“I feel most powerful when I’m fully embracing my individuality. Women are raised to appear as either non-entities or sexual entities when they go out in public. Women are told that a diminutive presence is the most likable, and that conformity is the safest mode for navigating life. I don’t buy into any of that. My power thrives when I’m fully articulating my funky, crass, wise, irreverent me-ness without apology or hesitance.”

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Ardavan Arfaei, 29 | Architectural Designer | Brooklyn, New York

“I feel powerful when I learn. It can be learning a scientific principle, feeling how another being feels, or something about myself. I feel powerful when I teach. It can be explaining a fact I learnt or making it possible for someone to feel a new feeling.”

“The elements I use in my outfit are both a means of making myself feel good and also a tool to connect with other people. I wear different scarves to different occasions, It’s an easy yet very expressive accessory. I like expressing myself free of gender norms.”

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Mary Bustamonte, 28 | Stylist | Brooklyn, New York

“I never feel more powerful than when I’m present to taking up space as a woman. When I’m having a good day I remember to put my shoulders back, I feel in line with who I actually am. So much of our lives as women is catering to others and power is really prioritizing what is best for your own well being and then factoring in compassion and what needs to get done. I feel most powerful when I’m around women who resonate on the same frequency.”

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William McGuinness, 28 | Social & Digital Media Strategist/ Masters Student at Columbia University | New York, New York

“I know people who dress to look powerful or fashionable; but in my world, I need people to open up and feel comfortable in a professional setting. Then, they can share their knowledge and think more creatively. This space tie works well with astrophysicists and astronomers on the faculty and with my NASA capstone team. It’s a friendly wink that leads into the conversation.”

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Nicolet Schenck, 25 | Freelance Graphic Designer | Crown Heights, Brooklyn

“I always feel powerful when I’m driving on an on-ramp to the highway and I manage to take the curve at the perfect speed. I break, then accelerate with precision and feel the wheels glide with ease underneath me. When someone else is in the car, I hope they notice the way I’m cradling them with the turn’s fluidity. This smooth, elegant, in control feeling paired with a slight edge of adrenaline and a steady leap in the pit of my stomach is my ideal sense of power in anything I do.”

“The jumpsuit is the fabric equivalent of that moment for me. It’s elegant, it’s smooth, it’s a little daring and gives me a bit of an adrenaline rush from the feeling of wearing something out of the norm. It’s elongating, classic, and attention seeking, yet offers a caring, feminine presence that makes me want to guide and cradle others. I am powerful with a touch of breezy femininity.”

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Alena Le Blanc, 27 | Fashion Designer | San Francisco, California

“The reason I became a fashion designer is I wanted women to feel confident and happy in the clothes they are wearing. If you look good, you feel good. I feel confident and happy in this jacket.”

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Jan Philipp Sendker, 57 | Writer, Novelist | Berlin, Germany

“Knowledge makes me feel powerful. It gives you the power to make decisions to move forward and act.”

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Cece Chan, 19 | Film and TV Student at NYU | New York, New York

“I feel powerful when I can relate to other people. One one hand, it’s great when someone’s telling me something deeply personal, but on the flip side, I let things affect me more than I’d like to. But I always remember that when someone tries to hurt me, it’s usually not about me – it’s more often coming from a place of hurt. And I don’t feel the need to hurt people. That makes me feel powerful.”

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Robert Krakower, 26 | TV Producer | Brooklyn, New York

“I think it’s fun to wear something a bit out of the ordinary. I feel powerful wearing something I wouldn’t normally wear and pushing myself out of my comfort zone – plus they are super comfortable to wear!”

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Nadia Carrillo, 19 | Student at Columbia University | New York, New York

“I think above all else I feel empowered when I pay attention to detail on any aspect of my life, whether it be my clothes or my schoolwork or even just hanging out with friends. Keeping the little things in mind helps me to feel complete and thus like the best version of myself I can be.”

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Marlon Daniels, 24 | Prep Cook | Boston, MA

“Being in the right state of mind makes me feel powerful. It’s so difficult to be in a good place mentally.”

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Shirin Mazdeyasna, 24 | Student in Fine Art | Brooklyn, New York

“I find power in new environments and connections.”

Seeking Solace After Trump’s Muslim Ban

Trump’s executive order is not just political, it’s personal.

By Saira Khan

It was around 30 degrees on Saturday and the crowd in front of me at John F. Kennedy Airport appeared to be in the thousands. People were packed into a space across Terminal 4 (international arrivals) and more were lined up along the bus stop and taxi stands. Some had already been standing and chanting for nearly five hours. There were people overlooking the crowd on all levels of the parking garage. An upside down American flag hung from the fourth floor, someone had spray painted a peace sign and “no borders” onto it. I made my way in, unsure of what to do. I was alone and didn’t have a sign. I was able to find a spot on the third floor of the garage where I planted myself for the next few hours. I didn’t know what to expect at the protest but I do know I wasn’t expecting what I saw.

***

On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling a sense of dread and anxiety that I haven’t felt since last year, when I learned that my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Late Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order fulfilling his campaign promise to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The order temporarily bans travel from seven Muslim-dominated countries for refugees and visa-holders. There are reports that the White House is looking to expand the ban to include Pakistan, which is where I am from, and where my parents currently reside. The order makes an exception for persecuted religious minorities; Trump later clarified that he specifically meant Christians.

My sister texted me early morning, “Baji, this Muslim ban is really scaring me.” I had no words to comfort her. As American citizens, the executive order doesn’t affect us yet but the sense of otherness it is fostering is real and immediate. I was born in Pakistan and have spent most of my life in the United States. My sister was born in the U.S., has spent most of her life in Pakistan, and recently moved to New York. Trump’s executive order is ostensibly about religion, but it feels racial. It’s hard to dismiss this as mere politics; it’s personal.

When, late Saturday morning, I saw a handful of tweets and Facebook posts from activists, American Civil Liberties Union lawyers, and immigration organizations calling on people to gather at Terminal 4 to protest the executive order and stand in solidarity with those being detained, I knew I had to go. I needed to do something to shake the loneliness and helplessness I was feeling.

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I spent the early afternoon speaking with friends who were immediately impacted by Trump’s order: people who have been told by their lawyers to cancel travel plans for the immediate future, people whose families can no longer visit them, people who feel the effect of this ban so deeply that they worry even voicing these concerns publicly will result in retribution.

By the time I made it onto the A train to JFK, around 4:00 p.m., it was full of protesters with signs declaring their support for refugees. “We are all refugees,” read one, “No more hate,” read another. Upon arriving at Terminal 4, I was greeted by four NYPD officers in full riot gear. The protesters were nowhere in sight. Outside, there were dozens of officers and a steady stream of flashing red and blue police lights. Further ahead, I heard the faint chants of protesters. I couldn’t make out what they were saying but as I got closer the size of the crowd became apparent.

A week ago, I had attended the Women’s March in New York City, for which the turnout was approximately 400,000. While it was empowering to march with women for our rights, I did not feel the sense of solidarity and emotion that I felt on Saturday. The crowd at the march appeared to be largely white, and, historically, white feminism hasn’t been sympathetic to people of color (much has been written about this, so if you want to know more I recommend reading this and this.) I felt no bond and no sisterhood  with the strangers marching with me. I expect all the women and men I know to fight for my rights as a woman, but I have lower expectations from people when it comes to fighting for my rights as a Pakistani woman of Muslim-descent. Our struggles, as women of color, aren’t their struggles and thus it’s easier to talk about gender than it is about race.

I was expecting anywhere from two dozen to 100 people at JFK. I’m not much of a crier and I surely don’t cry in public, so when I saw the size of the protest at Terminal 4, which appeared to be over 1,000, and my eyes welled up with tears, I felt naked and vulnerable.

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In the garage, as the temperature continued to drop, my fully-charged phone stopped working and my hands became colder. A young woman handed me a packet of hand-warmers. Another woman handed me a bottle of Gatorade, “to stay hydrated,” she said.

I didn’t chant at the protest. I couldn’t bring myself to. I stood there, mostly in silence, at the top of the parking garage, taking in the crowd, and felt the sense of dread I had woken up with slowly melt away. I saw women in hijabs, men in yarmulkes; there were black people and white people and brown people all around me. This wasn’t a protest for overarching women’s rights. This was a specific protest against an executive order that discriminates against a specific sect of peopleit’s likely that many of those in attendance weren’t directly affected by Trump’s ban. The ones who came out that day had cancelled their plans and stood in the cold with no purpose but to voice their dissent. As a woman of color, macro- and micro-aggressions tinge every aspect of my life. I’ve learned to expect the worst from people. On Saturday, this expectation was challenged.

While I was at the airport, my sister was at Cadman Plaza, in Brooklyn, awaiting Judge Ann Donnelly’s ruling on an emergency challenge to the order by the ACLU. It was shortly before 9:00 p.m. when the stay was granted.

“When I got here there were a few dozen, now there are soooo many,” my sister texted me.

(In all the rejoicing, it’s important to remember that we still have a long battle to fight. The stay blocks only part of the executive action: it prevents the government from deporting people who arrived in the United States during this chaos, or people who were already here. The stay does not state that they must be allowed into the country; another hearing is set for Feb. 21. And we still don’t know what is to come from this administration.)

I made it home around 8:50 p.m. and my sister came home shortly after the ruling was issued.

“How’re you feeling now?” I asked her.

“I cried a lot and I’m still really scared about what’s going to happen. But I feel a lot better. Does that make sense?” she asked.

“Yes, it does.” I said. And I meant it.