Posts tagged " resist "

On Being a Privileged Immigrant

February 9th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I am an immigrant. At the age of eight, I left my communist star pinned on my first grade uniform, and the USSR, and came to sunny Greece. I felt out of place since the moment I woke up. On my first morning here, my mom asked what I wanted for breakfast, I realized that I could have anything I wanted, so I asked for spaghetti with ketchup. Not speaking a word of English, I went to a school full of American kids, here because their parents were stationed at the US naval bases. I had a Russian last name, Maslofskaya, it was. Imagine being 10 with that name in the 1980s, in an American microcosm. My first friend was a Turkish girl, we could barely communicate, and when she tore my favorite pink skirt on the playground, my stepfather was convinced that it was time for me, now a Greek, to stop playing with a Turk. By high school, I’d achieved my sought-after status of someone who could pass for an American, no questions asked. Only to find myself in the Greek work force being labeled as an “Amerikanaki,” carrying the load of all the negative connotations that came with that word. I began telling people I was Russian again, but it was the 1990s, and the post-glasnost outpour of people from the ex-USSR, resulted in a whole different cloud of negative profiling. Most cab drivers, for example, assumed that I was a sex worker of some sort, or was at least acquainted with a few, just because I was Russian.

In New York, as a graduate student, feeling more at home than I ever had in my life, I was sometimes a “dirty Greek.” Or an ex-commie. Back in Moscow, I’m a deserter of the mother nation.

None of this is a pity story; it’s simply reality. It is what has given me strength, power, resilience, knowledge. I’ve waited in lines for cheese and butter in freezing temperatures, holding on to my grandma’s hand. I’ve been pushed in outdoor pools by Soviet swimming instructors, insisting I need to be an athlete. I’ve said prayers in Greek and English at the daily line up at school. I have sided with the Jews, I have sided with the Palestinians, I have stood on a balcony and watched the Twin Towers fall and lived their aftermath. I have watched Greece’s people lose its sunshine, only tourists and a handful of citizens still basking in its glory. I set the alarm to watch the first black man be elected president of a country I looked up to. And I yelled into a megaphone when someone who threatens not only that country, but the rest of the world, moved into a house that holds more history than his deep pocket will ever fit.

But I am always a privileged immigrant, I saw poverty, racism, bigotry, evil, and tragedy, without living the consequences.

I belonged everywhere and nowhere.

Now I don’t know where to go.


On “What Can we do?”

January 29th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I wake up each morning before sunrise, torn between fear and excitement, I pick up my phone to scan through my newsfeed as I warm up my toddler’s milk. The excitement is immediately blown by the endless posts of outraged media, giving me an update on how a man can chisel away at the foundation of humanity in the six to seven hours that I spend not paying attention to him and what he’s done to the world in a mere week.

Last Saturday, I organized a march, here in Athens, Greece, where so many more people than I expected, as outraged as I, showed up and chanted for what should be our inalienable rights. I momentarily overcame my fear of speaking in public, stood up on a mounting right outside the US embassy, where to my knowledge, no demonstration has ever been given the privilege to gather, and without thinking, spoke into that megaphone, knees trembling, but a voice as powerful as it has ever been. For a country that is not my own. But for a civilization that is.

After that day, all of us here, and millions of marchers worldwide, felt high, felt connected, felt like we had the power to accomplish something together. We were an international community. United, we felt that our voice mattered.

Ever since, and naturally so, that magical feeling of sisterhood has split into smaller cells, mostly throughout the United States. Executive orders began to be signed like autographs at a small town pop concert, which for some reason had the power to make us gasp for air. Nobody seems to be able to keep up with what to fight for first, what to protest, or figure out if there are more important issues being overshadowed by the abhorrent attack on the foundation of the historic experiment in democracy that we have all called America for as long as we can remember. Flawed as it may be.

And I ask you now, on a day where thousands of people take the streets to fight for the very fist building block of their country, what can the rest of us do? Please tell us what to do. We want to help.


Why I’ve been silent for so long. Good excuse?

January 22nd, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Maria Kostaki, one of the organisers of the Athens Women’s March, welcomed those who gathered outside the US Embassy with some simple but stirring words:

“I am here today because I believe that women’s rights, minorities’ rights, LGBT rights are HUMAN rights.

I am here because all of our parents and grandparents fought so hard to provide us with a world more accepting and more equal than the one they grew up in.

I am here because I refuse to let their work be undone. I am here because I want my son to grow up in a world that embraces us all.

Now, I know we won’t wake up tomorrow to a different reality, (though we did today). But this is a start, we and the 2.2 million people gathering in solidarity around the world, are part of something with enormously powerful potential; a movement that stands up to bigotry, hate, racism and cruelty.

Thank you for showing up, you are all amazing, and we are STRONGER TOGETHER.”

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.