The Indicator’s Statement of Solidarity and Action

June, 2020

We, as The Indicator’s Chief Editors, would like to take the space to pledge our commitment and solidarity alongside the Black community and people of color. While there are no words that can encapsulate all the pain and frustration so many feel, we want to acknowledge the suffering and outrage of those who face these injustices and feel these losses the most.

The Indicator is not only a creative magazine but also a space of friendship, validation and vulnerability. Our hearts ache for our friends, for ourselves, and for every single individual devalued as human beings as a means to exert hateful oppression. We acknowledge that structural racism has not escaped our own organization and we commit to actively deconstructing these systems. The magazine’s project is one of decolonial love–and a place for togetherness and creation that allows us to dream of a future different than our past. 

We value art as a powerful instrument to express and communicate differing narratives, allowing us to expand our own understandings of the world through the words and images of others. The Indicator is designed to be as inclusive of various writing forms as possible, accepting excerpts of academic papers or thesis work to short stories, poetry, essays to campus-news articles and interviews. This magazine is for anyone who has something to say. 

At the same time, given the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery in the process of “arrest” and past unjust killings of other black people, we must recognize that our legal system and culture have historically excused these heinous acts. Within the scope of a literary magazine and a part of Amherst College, it is our obligation to make note of the fact that the Amherst College arts and writing spaces lack people of color, particularly black people. The Indicator, Circus, and the Amherst Student never appeared to have more than two or three black members at a time. It is also worth noting nationally, the publishing industry lacks black members. From writers to marketing, no more than 5% of any sector is black. It is crucial for black narratives and for identity groups to be in control of their stories. The publishing industry must be more inclusive to all marginalized identities. We hope people of color will soon be the ones to shape the conversation and drive the standard of writing in the future. 

With all this in mind, The Indicator hopes to be more inclusive of people of color moving forward. By diversifying the voices of our magazine, we will challenge the ideologies, assumptions, and biases that have unrelentingly silenced and suppressed marginalized and underrepresented communities for centuries. Writing and art have the ability to restructure our narratives and make people see the complexity of our intellectual and emotional lives, to see the varying demands the world puts on us and the ways we deal with, build on, and uplift our communities. Writing has the capacity to create joy for ourselves and others, to help us reimagine better living. Everyone should have access to a platform, and to writing itself. As such, we seek and will continue to seek submissions on any topic from non-staff members, Black writers and other marginalized writers/artists for our digital platform. That being said, remember that writing can be emotionally taxing work. Do what’s best for you and your health, and feel free to submit older work.

We strongly encourage everyone to educate themselves (we have included a compilation of resources including reading lists, artwork, donation and petition links, and activist organizations), speak up (especially with those who do not share your same point of view), and take direct actions through whatever means possible — donating, attending protests, signing petitions, and any other forms of actionable support. 

Take care during these times. We hope that self-expression may be a space of healing.

Kiera Alventosa ‘21 Editor-in-Chief

Kalidas Shanti ‘22 Vice Editor-in-Chief

Hannah Zhang ‘22 Vice Editor-in-Chief

Heather Brennan, ‘20, Former EIC

 

Masks

While I have stayed at L. Bergstrom (23)’s family in the past months as I am unable to obtain a VISA renewal in China due to Covid-19, the family made over fifty masks and gave out most of them to those in need, including 39 masks to a nurse at the Dignity Hospital in Folsom, CA. Heartwarmingly, it has been an effort of more than one family. Many in the neighborhood offered homemade masks to others who cannot access one, and one family put up a “mask tree” for zero-contact pickups.

-Hantong Wu ’23

 

Journals – two years in review

I haven’t written in my journal for some time now. People have been urging me that being in quarantine, it’s even more apt to start reflecting. Still I couldn’t bring myself to write the same way I could before. I write when I feel moved.

So here I’ve regurgitated my old work, because I cannot gift the reader anything new, and because somewhere inside me, I want to reassert who I am, as I feel myself grow weary and forget what it is that I love and have loved.

I’ve attached some excerpts from my Journal since 2018. To you who reads this preface, I hope you feel inspired to revisit your own travels, memories, and what makes your life so wonderfully rich.

Natalie

Laptop Portrait Series

This photo series was initially begun at the beginning of the spring semester as a way to showcase the various identities and affinities that Amherst students display. This project began after my thesis advisor made a comment on one of my own laptop stickers, and I found that both of us had stickers that very much represented what we care about; for instance, my advisor has a rainbow mammoth and the cover of their most recent book. Laptop stickers are a form of self-expression like any other kind of sticker, and for the student they often are used as signifiers of interests and identities, peeked at in class, in the library, or in Val. I liked the idea of seeing which laptops on campus caught my attention, and for a few weeks I and members of the magazine staff approached people whose stickers we thought were unique and asked to take a photo of their laptop. I thank those who agreed to our odd request, and I hope you enjoy seeing yourself amongst your peers in these photos. 

But, then our semester moved online, and our student body dispersed. Instead of being able to peer at the backs of people’s laptops in shared spaces on campus, now I only stare at the screen of my own, connecting with my peers through my laptop but never being able to see the backs of theirs. This is yet another strange realization of remote learning.

Yet, I still wanted to share the laptop portraits I had already collected, to not abandon this project. Although I’m disappointed that I didn’t have two more months to collect many more photos, I am grateful for the ones here for at least allowing me to start this project. I hope you recognize some of the stickers and their meanings, and perhaps you can even identify who they belong to from the collaged identities they present. If you would like your own laptop to be included, please email me a photo at hbrennan20@amherst.edu, and I will be happy to add it to this collection.

I recognize that laptops represent a certain type of privilege, and that these are indispensable resources for online learning that not everyone is able to access. Yet, I hope that there is still a universal echo in the stickers we place on them, of the desire to advertise our interests in the hope that someone else understands their meaning. This project is merely meant to be a testament to the myriad ways in which we seek to express ourselves and build connections. I hope you enjoy it.


“a world changed” by Kiera Alventosa ’21

if i could say everything 

        all 

           at once 

                i would.

                          to be truthful

                  i need to say

             my body is floating

 

for fear of disintegration,

     decompensating

i breathe deeply

       i think in moments

even though 

        they are fleeting

flashes have 

        soft, violent duration. 

 

can pain make

time detect

-ible?

       i doubt

                       to be truthful

                i need to say

          my body is floating

 

for fear of drowning in my

     lungs  

          fluid

    today new york surged

    to over 52,000 cases

  siphon life from

 bodies, you can’t hold

a number in 

   your floating hand.

 

this moment has sprung

         our breath into our hearts

and our collective

body has flung itself into the air

 

and we haven’t hit the apex

   preparation has passed

but we are still steeling our breath

                as though it isn’t vulnerable.

 

my hair is suspended 

       in the air around me

but my hair is the world around me.

  

wheeze, the pain, dadum, 

     will crash into the floor.

 

my floor is my aunt

      on the phone, my uncle

muscles and breath.

dying, living, dying, 

                               living

my cousins, my other aunt

  each pain a new pain

 

when i am living in flashes

life flashes before

       my heart.

 

if i could say everything 

        all 

           at once 

                i would.

A Letter from The Editor

Dear Readers,

As you may notice, we are back online. Our intention here at The Indicator was always to keep up our online presence, but with the distractions of a print magazine, passwords were lost, attentions were fixed elsewhere, and certain people (meaning me) did not want to tackle the beast that is WordPress. But, recent changes in the Amherst College community (and the wider world) have made this website crucial. As many of you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a series of preventative measures by governments around the globe, and Amherst College has not been immune to these changes. As of March 9, Amherst College students were instructed to return to their homes if they were able and to continue courses entirely online. Amherst being the first college to implement such measures, this announcement came as quite a shock. For myself, being a senior, I was stunned to realize that what precious few weeks I still had left on campus were now suddenly and irredeemably stolen from me. I had one week to pack up my whole life here, find a flight home, say goodbye to all of my friends and professors, and do everything I told myself I had to do before I graduated. Of course, these tasks were exhausting and emotionally charged. I know that for all students, leaving campus (or watching all of your friends leave campus while you have stayed) was a heavy and possibly heartbreaking experience. My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by these changes and the greater changes we face every day as the news of this virus develops. 

Consequently, the dispersal of our student body meant that The Indicator would not be able to publish a print issue this semester. As Editor-in-Chief, this realization was saddening. All of my preparation for timelines and content and outreach were essentially nullified; my last opportunity to hold in my hands a magazine full of brilliant and beautiful work that I helped to bring about was gone. Everyone on the Indicator staff knows that I grieve this opportunity for all of us, and I apologize for not being able to deliver on my promises of seeing your work in print this semester. 

Yet, these changes do not necessitate a complete halt to The Indicator’s production: we have our website! For this semester (and the summer, if possible), The Indicator will be entirely online. I would like to provide a platform for our now disparate staff members to continue to contribute their amazing work, since I know many students had plans for articles and art pieces that they would still like to share. Granted, some of these projects may now need to be modified–stay tuned for my own contribution to our online content–but that does not mean they will be lessened in caliber or creativity. In an effort to be attentive to and considerate of the varied circumstances in which our staff members now find themselves, there will not be a scheduled timeline for the release of content, nor will the usual constraints on word count or content type be imposed. In short, I want The Indicator to be available for whatever our staff–or any eager contributors!–would like to say, whenever they want to say it. I entreat you to follow us on this journey and perhaps to even partake in it yourself.

That being said, I would like to acknowledge that our content has a hitherto unspoken theme guiding its production. Before our campus’s closure, it was our intention that the theme of the Spring 2020 issue would be “Metamorphosis.” Strangely enough, this theme was decided way back in the fall, though it seems fitting now more than ever. This certainly is a time of intense change and growth for us all, regardless of where we are and how COVID-19 is impacting us. The new can so often be confused with the disconcerting, that many times metamorphoses are only appreciated once the transformation(s) are well behind us. I hope that, even when disoriented, frightened, worried, or struggling, we can acknowledge the metamorphoses of our present moment and–if not gain appreciation for them–to at least give a nod to the ways that they are contributing to our identities and our ways of being. While the staff is not required to speak to this theme in their content, they are nevertheless able to pursue this option. I wonder how what follows will fit into our theme, intentionally or otherwise. I am excited to see what we can make, and again I invite whoever wishes to join us to reach out to me at my email at hbrennan20@amherst.edu.

I will be thinking of all of you during the coming months, whether you are a member of my staff or a reader of our magazine. I send you all my best wishes for health and happiness, and I thank you for giving me the honor of being The Indicator’s Editor-in-Chief over these past two years. It has been my most sincere pleasure.

With love,

Heather Brennan

Dean Dean Gendron’s Party Tips by Jake May ’19

We here at the Indicator recognize that the rift between Amherst’s students and its administration is growing every single day. Given our reputation as the “Undisputed #1 Best Voice of Amherst College” (look it up), we, here at the Indicator understand that we have a responsibility to aid in the mending of this rift. That’s why this month, we, here, at the Indicator, asked Senior Associate Dean of Students, co-author of the infamous email, and potential lizard-person Dean Gendron to provide some tips on how to make Amherst parties “even more fun than they already are.” (His words, not ours.)

 

Hello. I am Dean Dean Gendron, but you can call me Dean Dean Gendron. You may know me if you went to the AAS Town Hall meeting about the Party Policy-I was the ghostly man who looked like he hadn’t been outside in 10-12 years. (I actually want to take a second to clear this up right now: I have been outside in the past 10-12 years; in fact, I go outside at least once a week. It’s just that I only go outside at night, okay? Not that hard to understand.)

Anyway, I have some tips on how to improve your parties here at Amherst College. These all come from personal experience.

1. Sit in a circle on the ground and get to know each other. Ask each other questions like “What’s your favorite color?“ or “Where were you on the night of the Summer Solstice?” Classic getting-to-know-each-other stuff.

2. While your in the circle anyway, go ahead and grasp the hands of the people sitting next to you. Look at the person to your left in the eyes (NOT the person to your right; be extra careful about this). Once you have made eye contact, look to the sky and, in unison, say “Great and powerful Uungatuu, we are ready.”

3. At this point, whoever has been designated as the Shaman should place the ceremonial Orb in the middle of the circle. The Shaman should then sing The Pitch. Join in and create the sacred harmony. The Orb will begin to glow-hopefully blue. If it is blue, the great Uungatuu has blessed us for another cyle. If it is red, you must accept your impending doom, for the great Uungatuu is our lord, our rock, our reedemer.

4. Instead of a drinking game, try playing a different type of game, like Charades or Mafia.

 

jmay19@amherst.edu

Misty by Lauren Weiss ’18

For my dog, upon her seventh birthday

 

She does not run as fast as she once did.

Still, her legs swing like furry pendulums,

Tiny chest seeming to graze the ground as

She sprints after a wayward tennis ball.

 

The sound of knocking at the door used to

Make her leap down from her favorite spot.

These days it takes more to coax her from this

Paradise, that sun-warmed patch on the bed

 

Where she snoozes through the day, waking when

Tantalizing smells from the backyard find

Their way up into the upstairs window.

She wrinkles her small damp nose and wonders.