In Defense of ACAB

ACAB. 1312. A paradox of a phrase. A phrase utilized to empower those protesting in wake of police brutality to reject a system that has lead to the death of thousands of people. A phrase to reject a viewed system of hate. A phrase likewise denoted by the Anti-defamation league as a hate symbol. A phase used in dozens of different languages- stenciled on to posters, spray-painted onto walls, and tattooed onto fingers.

The phrase ACAB, once used uniquely by the anarchist movement, has gained more and more popularity (and notoriety to boot) after the death of George Floyd and the powerful protests that followed.

ACAB (All Cops are Bastards) has gained plenty of debate over its meaning, its implications, and its intent. Those against the phrase range from ardent cop supporters to even those protesting police brutality. The main discussion over the phrase comes from the implication of ‘all’. Surely, ALL cops aren’t bastards. There are good cops who work hard at their job and for us and its hardly fair to group them in with the bad cops. After we all know interrogations require good cops and bad cops, so it can’t be that ALL cops are bastards. Maybe just a few. In fact (this is the big AHA) you’re discriminating against cops!

The large part of the debate comes from the inherent misunderstanding. The phrase isn’t Every Person Who Has the Job of A Cop is Deep Down an Evil Terrible Jerk. I don’t even think that would fit on a poster! It’s not attacking the individual, its attacking the role they play as a cop.

In order to put this in context think of Bloody Sunday in 1965, when civil rights protesters tried to cross a bridge only to get teargassed and bloodied and beat.

Let’s look at this picture purely from an objective view point. We can see that the protestors are on the ground and the cops above wield their batons and wear a gas masks (neither of which the protester has). There is an obvious use of force. And if I was to go beyond the picture, I would know that this had been a peaceful demonstration prior to police intervention.

What ACAB states isn’t that the individuals who are cops are inherently bad; instead its stating that in order to effectively fill the role of a cop one must be unscrupulous. That’s because ultimately the cops are gatekeepers of the status quo. The job of a cop is to defend the present law, not actually the people. And when someone challenges the status quo, its their job to keep them in check.

To me, ACAB is about calling out a system based on stagnation. Cops aren’t born bad people, but instead the role of a cop puts them in a position where they are forced to stand opposite to progress. That’s why ACAB is at the center of the current BLM movement. Because what BLM is fighting for is change, challenging the current system, and the police system stands directing across from it. Not to mention that the entire justice system has many serious flaws that instead of imagining the circumstances surrounding crime- limited job opportunities, inability to attain higher education, family situations- we choose to brand them with a different ACAB, All Criminals Are Bastards.

But its impossible to change the status quo without bending the systems that keep us stagnant. Just as it was impossible to fight for voting rights without breaking the disenfranchisement laws police were sworn to protect. Just as it was impossible to dismantle segregation without breaking the Jim Crow Laws police were sworn to protect. Just as it was impossible to escape slavery, steal ones own body, without breaking the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 the police were entirely created to protect. The history of revolution has always been a conflict between progress and the police, in whichever form they may have existed. Police are sworn to protect our status quo, not the people and the progress they may advocate for. That’s the way the system was built. That’s the way the system exists. That’s why the call for change has become ACAB


In the Age of Lockdowns

Today there was a shooting at a school a few miles away from mine. One student died.

One parent said: the shooting illustrates the reality that students have to face in an era where school shootings dominate national headlines several times a year.

One of my close childhood friends (with whom I share my name) lived right next to Sandy Hook Elementary. My best friend went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Middle School right next door to its sister high school and was in lockdown as across the parking lot became the site of the Parkland shooting. My friend was on the same baseball team as a victim of the Santa Fe school shooting who came to their baseball game with a scar on his neck from where a bullet entered and exited his neck.

But regardless of our personal connections, we all know these children.

They are our kin. They are our own. They are us.

They are teenagers with attitude who are worried about what to wear to Friday’s party. They are teenagers who aren’t sure if they said “I love you” when Mom dropped them off because it may be the last time they say it. They are teenagers who wear sneakers to Friday’s party because they don’t know when they may need to run.

My school has lockdown practices every week. This year we shrunk part of the fine arts budget to purchase heavy duty doorstops advertised for stopping active shooters. My former algebra teacher left once a month to be part of a District Safety Committee.

This has became part of our culture. Learning comes hand in hand with fear.

And that is not okay. Growing up should be about going to friend’s houses, not friend’s virgils. Lockdowns shouldn’t be something we practice.

So when people complain that children shouldn’t be involved in politics my response is:

It’s not a choice. This has become our life. This was never about politics for us. It was never about being a Republican or Democrat. It is about being alive. How many need to die until enough is enough?

Women’s History Month: Oveta Culp Hobby

A documentary I made myself on Oveta Culp Hobby

In honor of women’s history month, I wanted to highlight some women who are often overlooked in our history books and common knowledge. These women serve as my role models and have helped to pave a path for generations to come.

Today we introduce Oveta Culp Hobby: Media Mogul, Courageous Colonel, and Groundbreaking Cabinet Secretary. Mrs. Hobby is from my hometown of Houston, but, unfortunately, she’s merely known as William P. Hobby’s wife. Oveta was groundbreaking editor of the Houston Post who advocated for diversity and hired the first female news reporter, Kay Bailey Hutchinson. After the outbreak of World War II, the War Department recruited her to head the Women’s Interest Section, which was primarily focused on answering women’s questions on the war effort. Oveta learned women were interested in aiding in the war effort, and thus, began organizing the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp. She fought for equal wages and fair treatment for the women in the military. Eventually through her perseverance the Corp was fully inducted in to the military as the Women’s Army Corp, and Oveta was sworn in as the first female colonel. After the war, Oveta earned the Distinguished Service Medal making her the first woman to win such a recognition. In 1953, Eisenhower appointed her to his cabinet as the first secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. She oversaw the release of the polio vaccine. After she retired from public office, she continued running the Houston Post and being an philantropist with the city.

Oveta Culp Hobby broke barriers for women in journalism, military and political power. Happy Women’s History Month!

Middle School Nationalism

My district has some really complicated zoning. My middle school was split up into three high schools, and, as a result, majority of my friends were separated to different schools after we graduated from middle school. In fact, middle school graduation was a very emotional ordeal realizing that we would have to experience high school without some of our closest friends.

Despite having lived in the same area my entire life, I was suddenly thrust into high school knowing barely anyone. My high school was made largely of one specific middle school which I’ll call Camp Town, which had been the rival of my middle school. Most of the kids coming from Camp Town had established friend groups and known each other going into high school.

This put in me in a difficult position. Most of my friends went to different high schools, and, naturally, I wanted friends at my own high school. So I had to figure out how to break into the Camp Town friendships.

Now it shouldn’t be a big deal what middle school we went to. After all, my middle school and Camp Town literally had the exact same layout and were at their core the exact same experience. But somehow, it was a really big deal.

I ended up finding a group of friends freshman year (all Campies), listening and nodding as they talked about friends from middle school I’d never met and pretending I had been there with all their inside jokes. To a larger extent, I ended up sacrificing my “middle school heritage” to assimilate with the Campies. Who I was at my own middle school became irrelevant to the conversation

Sophomore year I managed to infiltrate a tight-knit group of friends who had been together since elementary school (which seemed like an eternity). But there were certain things that still set me apart. They insisted their group chat was a Camp Town group chat. They would go back to Camp Town every so often. And by nature, all the Campies lived closer together leading to a certain form of geographical isolation.

And of course we can’t forget the bashing of my middle school, which made up the minority of the population. It was all fun and games, of course, but deep down the Campies were at the top and you just needed to join the Campies. When I would meet up with my middle school friends, we would reminisce on the “good times” and drag Camp Town. My mom would ask me why I didn’t hang out with the few middle school friends I had who went to my high school, but what she didn’t realize was all of those middle school friends had long renounced their middle school identities and assimilated into the landscape painted by the Campies.

Now of course, in the big picture, all of this middle school stuff is irrelevant. Feeling left out is something every teenager has faced based on a number of reasons. And I’m sure the experience of being a new student is far worse. But at the end of the day, our separation on the basis of middle school raises a powerful question: why are we so quick to divide ourselves based on our experiences? Its our experiences who create who we are, so perhaps we have more in common personality-wise with those who have a similar history to us. It’s easy to understand why Campies were friends with Campies- they had gone to school together through middle school. But why was their the necessity to defines one identity to that experience? Why was it necessary to Campies only group chats? Why was it necessary to entirely erase the other existing experience?

Its long been recognized that humans recognize those unlike them as “others”, but perhaps this otherness is based less off of physical things, but rather experience. Identity organizations, such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes, African Students Association, Gay Straight Alliance, Young Democrats, meet to discuss their shared experience more than anything. I can rant to another woman about micro-aggression at work. I can joke with another Bengali about how we always eat before we go to dinner parties. I am naturally more inclined to those I feel I can relate with. But when I was the only girl on my hockey team, I would accept the micro-aggression and try to minimize the differences in my woman identity. In rooms where I was the only Indian, I would turn on my white-side.

We divide ourselves on the basis of experience, but, at the end of the day, our experience overlaps in so many places. My Campie friends and I both have boy problems that we’ll stay up all night dissecting every text. My hockey team and I would bond at team dinners pouring salt into our goalies water when he wasn’t looking. While we have different identities that make it easier to relate, we intersect in so many places at the end of the day. Within our differences, we can still find commonalities

Finding Myself on the Big Screen

I have an oddly distinct memory of really wanting to watch Disney Channel, specifically a show called Jessie, because all my friends were watching it.

I had never watched a Bollywood movie or really any other Indian media, so seeing the character Ravi was truly my first time seeing anyone who looked like me on TV. And it did not look good.

Karan Brar as Ravi on Jessie

Now mind you, I was the same girl who used to just PRETEND that Gabriella from High School Musical was Indian just so I could identify myself with someone. And suddenly BAM there’s someone who’s Indian just like me on TV. And they were nothing like me. The character Ravi was the butt of every joke and his Indian-ness that I so sought out was used to designate him as other.

I was in around third grade when I first watched Jessie, so while now I can identify that it was simply a faulty stereotype, it was a really big deal to me back then. I didn’t want to be the butt of a joke. And I definitely didn’t want to be seen as other. And so, I guess, I didn’t want to be seen as Indian.

I spent the rest of my elementary and middle school years trying to separate myself from my Indian heritage because I began to equate Indian with negative. Now, this wasn’t an explicit thing. I wasn’t thinking, oh! I saw this negative portrayal of Indian-ness in third-grade so now I don’t want to be Indian. It was subtle to the point I didn’t recognize it. I just knew that I wanted to be taken serious. I wanted to be badass. I wanted to be accepted. And no one who was like that looked like me.

Then one day I saw Bend it Like Beckham. And I saw someone who looked like me. She had a family like mine. And she was taken seriously. She was badass. She was ultimately accepted. (I’m going to do a post later on about Bend it Like Beckham because that movie Changed My Life).

Jess Bhamra from Bend it Like Beckham

The point was once I saw someone in a positive role who looked like me, I wanted to be me. When there isn’t much representation of yourself, the negative portrayal hurt a lot more, because sometimes they’re the only portrayals of yourself that you see.

I am so happy to see the rising amount of diversity in mainstream media (I absolutely love Love LOVE Mindy Kaling) Its important to recognize that the media we’re introduced to in childhood has such a big effect on who we become and how we see ourselves. Because it can inspire as much as it can tear down. It can change us, in one way or another.

Please leave your own stories in the comments! I would love to hear from y’all!

Is Juliet a Feminist Icon?

Juliet from the 1996 Baz Lurhmann Film

For a lot of people, Romeo and Juliet portrays the foolishness of youth, the absurdity of love, and the fatal combination of youthful love. And that’s understandable. On the surface Romeo and Juliet is simply a tale of two teenagers who basically fall in love before knowing their identity. Sounds like young dumb love at its finest. But once you break the surface the story is far more complex. While a story of love, it explores the complexity of love. Platonic love (Think Mercutio and Romeo), motherly love (Lady Montague died of this), fatherly love (Why did Lord Capulet force Juliet to marry Paris?), mentorly love (we’re looking at you Friar Lawrence), hateful love (TYBALT) and every love in between.

Like the story, Juliet seems like a shallow character on the surface, but deep down she represented far more.

Juliet experienced a huge transformation throughout Romeo and Juliet. At the beginning she represented a docile daughter who was willing to do anything to please others. When her mother asked her to love Paris she agreed without any argument. Now it’s really important to understand Juliet’s parents role at the beginning of the play. Her father, Lord Capulet tells Paris that he can only marry Juliet if Juliet agrees. This is extremely progressive for a time-period where arranged marriages where extremely common.

At the beginning of the play Juliet is innocent, amiable, and eager-to-please. However, after she meets Romeo her temperament begins to evolve. Of the two Juliet is the more mature and cautious. While Romeo is by her window serenading her she actually plans out their marriage. Even though she isn’t using her better judgement, she still remains the cautious one in the relationship. In addition, marriage wasn’t the most extreme choice. Juliet was literally asked to marry another man whom she had barely met the prior night.

The main turning point for Juliet is after Tybalt dies. At this point Juliet has matured from a naive girl to one who takes action. Juliet plans a course of action for Romeo to visit her in the night. This theme of Juliet taking action is apparent even in the plan that causes the lover’s ultimate doom. It is also important to point out that Juliet defiant to her parents. She knew what she wanted and intended to get it. Juliet most definitely was vocal over her beliefs and remained loyal to them till the end.

I personally define a feminist as someone who advocates for the equality of choices for those who aren’t privileged to have it. Its ultimately about fairness. Yes, the story of Romeo and Juliet was a love story. But Juliet isn’t a damsel in distress, she created her own plans, her own course of action. She didn’t sit passively as her parents arranged her marriage. She didn’t wait for Romeo to save her from her arranged marriage. She wasn’t a trophy for Romeo. She loved Romeo as much as he loved her. 

Love doesn’t make anyone less powerful. Just as much as Katherine in Taming of the Shrew represents a strong woman, Juliet too is independent and smart.  Juliet remained a badass throughout the play. She did what she wanted. She was adamant about her beliefs. Juliet, may not be the first image that comes to mind when we think of a feminist, but she definitely embodies the ideals. 

Welcome Home

The Reobservance of Growing Up is a blog about everything we know from our childhood, our teenage years, and our young adulthood observed from an outside eyes.

We’ll try to trace our social and political views. We’ll see how the life within our school hallways is the perfect place for researching social stratification. We’ll understand how our childhood influences who we become.

This is a place for:

  • The Observant Student: who wants to see their environment around them a different lens
  • The Wannabe Anthropologist: who wants to learn about the why?
  • The Curious: who wants to understand how the world around them works
  • People who Binge NPR’s Hidden Brain
  • The Future Psychologist: who’s secretly trying to diagnose all her friends
  • People have been kicked out of Family Movie Night for over analyzing everything
  • The Secret Sociologist
  • And anyone who wants to Reobserve their Childhood!!!

Heads up, I’m all of the above.

So cheers to the adventures that follow and the stories we have to tell!