Episode 3: Power
Alex: Hi, my name is…
Claire: Claire Peterson
Mason: Flynn Fritz
Kristen: Kristen, K-r-i-s-t-e-n
Victor: Victor Saavedra
Samay: My name is Samay, and it means time in my language, which is Hindi.
Ryan: When my parents moved to America, my dad watched the movie Lion King, and he thought Ryan Kim sounded like the Lion King.
Leanna: In Chinese, you would say the last name first. So it would be Fung Yu Qing. Fung means winds, Yu means rain, and then Qing is like clear skies. So, after a rain or thunderstorm, there’ll eventually be a clear sky coming out.
Rohan: It means ever growing or ascending in Sanskrit.
Michael: When I was born, the Bulls were in the NBA finals and my parents named me after Michael Jordan.
Sydney: I was named after my grandfather.
Rita: My dad actually named it after a Hemingway book called A Farewell to Arms.
Mustafa: So, my name actually is Arabic for “the chosen one.” So, I don’t know, it always gave me a bit of a god complex growing up.
Kayley: So, the year that I was born, there was a school shooting and there was a girl named Kayley that was hiding in a closet and praying. My dad read that article and named me after her.
Sarah: Welcome to The Power Hour with your hosts Sarah, Lily and Marissa. Today we’re exploring the idea of power and how we get power from a variety of sources. One of those sources as you just heard is our name.
Lily: Marissa, what does your name mean? Cause I can’t think of mine right now. Not my name, but where the power comes from.
Marissa: My name means “of the sea” I think? It’s like “mar” and then my middle name is “lucero” which means like shining light or whatever.
Lily: I love that so much. That is so great. Yeah, so my name’s Lily and my name comes, it’s pretty boring, just comes from my grandma Lillian. A lot of my family just we name our newborns after the non-living not the living.
Sarah: So, Lily, I know you went into the specifics of power in certain people.
Lily: Yeah it was really cool. I don’t know if you guys had the opportunity to meet Maya James, she’s a freshman at Northwestern and in the Handmaid’s Tale class, the freshman seminar class, so we had the opportunity to talk to her and fellow classmates kind of about their experiences and what led them to be the person they are. I asked her just a really simple question, when do you feel powerful. And this is what she explained to me:
(Lily) It’s Maya James’ world and we’re all just living in it.
I have a God complex. I think I’m the shit.
But Maya didn’t always think that about herself. She was actually a shy little kid. Until her dad got her to take up boxing. He even gave her lessons in their garage. That decision changed her life.
He is told me that I'm the smartest, strongest person in that he is ever met and I think he's a very big contributor to that fact.
Maya’s relationship with her dad is very clear-cut.
I wouldn’t say we’re very close emotionally. But me and my dad are really close in the fact that if I have something that I can’t understand or feeling difficult with, he’ll tell me what to do. He’s very the type of person to say you have to put your entire heart into it, because if you do it half-heartedly, you might as well not do it.
And this extra push was just what 16-year-old Maya needed for the Chicago Golden Gloves, an amateur boxing tournament.
It’s like really bright because you have these kind of spotlights on you and you have to breathe, and you have to stay focused and you can’t get flustered
I was in the blue corner and she was in the red corner. My entire family was at the match. First round you’re still a nervous and you’re a little bit jumpy, because you have to read your opponent and they were like this 19-year-old she thinks she’s all that but I just really wanted to put her in her place.
I remember my opponent she was throwing crazy I just couldn’t sometimes read what her punches were and that previous round I had gotten an 8 count.
An 8-count is when the referee stops the action for a few moments because one of the boxers might be too hurt to continue. If a boxer gets too many 8-counts called, she automatically loses.
And that kind of shook me because I lost my first match because I had too many 8 counts. I think something had to click with that because I was not going to lose this match.
I didn’t let that intimidation get to my head. I recognized that oh this was going to be difficult, I might be bloody after this, but that’s okay because I’m going to give it my all.
But before she could think, the next round was already here.
So the second round I really just wanted to go for it and try really hard and be aggressive and at some point during the middle of the round I was able to get continuous hits on her and I just kept going I had her on the ropes it was great, the ref had to take me off of her. I was super excited and it happened again I was able to give her two 8 counts but the second 8 count she got a bloody nose so they had to stop the match and let me win.
In other words, Maya was the champion. And her dad was right there in the stands.
Just this point he was able to step away from being the trainer and just be the spectator which I think was just a different role for him, and I think it’s definitely one of the more closest I feel like to him.
So I don’t know if I showed I was so happy, but I definitely on the inside I was just like…first I wanted to get off the stage, it was too much. When I look over the video I hear his voice the loudest, being like you go Maya you got this.
Maya’s dad taught her more than just how to hold your own in a ring.
I think it was a big turning point for me emotionally just to know that it’s okay to not be okay. my dad would be like okay you can cry but you’ve gotta go back in there sooner or later so figure out what’s wrong. If it was not for my dad I would not be doing boxing. I don’t know where or who I’d be if I didn’t have the confidence I have.
Marissa: Wow that was a really interesting piece, I also derive so much of my power through high school sports because I played varsity basketball for four years and that was I think some of the moments when I felt most powerful, when you step out on the court and it's nothing but you and the other opponent. What about you, Lily, I know that you're a student athlete?
Lily: Well, it's honestly pretty similar to what you were saying with basketball and kind of stepping on the court. I know with my field hockey at Northwestern we have this little saying before games and it's "front foot." And basically that means when we step on the field against an opponent in a big game, we're coming out strong, we're coming out powerful, all different angles of the game we want to be on our front foot, quite literally. And I think that's super important because as a team we can make those personal connections with each other and it's about bringing it out at the right time, embracing what we have in each individual person.
Marissa: Do you have any similar stories from high school or college?
Sarah: I am not athletic in any sense, but I think that kind of goes to show that everybody does get power from different things, you know, you guys have your sports and other things, I have no sports.
Marissa: I love how we can all find power in different ways, whether it's sports or family, things that we've talked about before. But I think it is kind of hard to find power. It often feels like we're really oppressed, for a variety of a identities. And that's something that came up in the Handmaid’s Tale a lot. Like obviously female oppression is a huge theme. And I wanted to find out what other Northwestern community members thought about the last time they felt powerful.
Vox pop #2:
Debbie: When was the last time I felt powerful?
Sylvie: I don't know. *laughs*
Xin Yan: Umm.....
Daniel: That's a difficult question.
Ryan: So that's a really good question.
Irwin: I don't know if I've ever felt powerful.
Sena: Like my husband, I don't think I ever have.
Sammi: Fifteen minutes ago, when I got an email back from an internship coordinator saying he'll get back to me later.
Joseph: Probably on a basketball court.
Xin Yan: Yesterday!
Daniel: I mean, applying here and getting in and seeing all the work from two years of college to transfer made me feel powerful.
Debbie: Saturday, when I ran 5 miles.
Allie: Over the weekend, on Saturday, when I was one of the only female photographers on the football field taking photos at the Michigan State game.
Ryan: I was a leader on a Pre-Orientation trip, CATalyst.
Victoria: So usually, when you're growing up, you're pretty dependent on your parents. So, honestly, it's, like, when I applied here because originally, they didn't want me to go to the Midwest.
Tom: Walking up that hill.
Amy: I answered a question in Organic Chemistry.
David: In a way, I always feel powerful.
Lily: Wait, the first guy sounded so dumb.
Marissa: Yeah, it was really surprising how many people I would assume are like societally not oppressed were like, "Oh yeah I've never felt powerful....don't know what that is." And I was like really? Are you sure? Cause, like, the entire system of the United States revolves around you, but okay, sure.
Sarah: It's shit like this that makes you like realize how ridiculous people are in this world, you know what I mean? When you see this kind of stuff like no wonder people make fun of white men all of the time. I just didn't realize that people were still that oblivious to this day.
Marissa: Even though there's a bunch of assholes out there who were like, "Oh yeah I've never felt powerful in my life," there are also so many people who find power in the little things and that kind of encouraged me just as much as the other people frustrated me.
Sarah: The pieces you heard today were produced by Sarah Han, Lily Katzman and Marissa Martinez, with special thanks to Maya James and the Northwestern Community. Thank you for listening.
Episode 2: Surveillance
HOST: What is in your pocket, right now?
PERSON 1: Absolutely nothing.
PERSON 2: Nothing.
PERSON 3: Nothing.
PERSON 4: Also, nothing.
PERSON 5: I’ve got my phone, my wallet, lip balm and, of course, the Juul.
HOST: What is in your pocket right now?
PERSON 6: CHANEL! MY JUUL!
PERSON 7: In my pocket? Money.
PERSON 8: All I have is my bike key with a Willie the Wildcat keychain.
PERSON 9: Right now, I’ve got a set of car keys and a pen.
HOST: What is in your pocket right now?
PERSON 10: I don’t have pockets, right now.
PERSON 11: I don’t have any pockets right now!
PERSON 12: I don’t have pockets right now.
PERSON 13: I have a camera cap and two keys.
PERSON 14: A penny. Oh! A nickel. And that’s it.
AKHIL: So that was a pretty cool vox pop Charlie, but I’m just thinking in my head did it feel awkward going up to those people on the campus just like out of the blue asking them what's in their pocket? Did anyone like feel like awkward?
CHARLIE: I mean I definitely felt awkward. It’s just so uncomfortable to like go up to someone and ask a random question like that.
AKHIL: It does feel a little uncomfortable just thinking about it and I think it kind of touches on this larger issue of surveillance and always needing to know what’s going on in other people’s lives 24/7.
EMILY: That’s definitely like a pretty scary thing to think about and I think these next 3 fictional audio dramas kind of represent what we’ve talked about and definitely paint the picture of a super scary dystopian society.
CHARLIE: So first, we’ll start with mine. Roll the tape.
[Music transition to radio show]
HOST: Welcome back to Tier One Radio! LifeCorp’s number one radio station for the top tier. I’m your host Mitch Osgood, and today I’m joined by Deputy Director of capital-region food synthesis labs, Dr. Frank Patrick. Hello, Dr. Patrick.
FRANK: Hello, it’s so nice to join you this morning! Huge fan of the show.
HOST: So Dr. Patrick, can you tell me a bit about what you’re working on right now?
FRANK: Absolutely. So what we’re working on right now is expanding into more uncommon flavors and spices from around the world to please all of our residents. Ever since raising livestock became dangerous and unreliable from feeding them contaminated food and water, we’ve seamlessly transitioned Tier One to enjoy solely lab-made meats.
HOST: And that was about five years ago?
FRANK: Yep, and since then we’ve begun to lose supply of many more exotic meats, spices, and vegetables.
HOST: So you’ve been working on crafting those?
FRANK: Synthesizing, yes. Some of the more rare meats and spices have very few samples left in the world, let alone in The Capital, so it’s taken us some time to acquire and develop them. In fact, we’re almost back to food diversity levels not seen since before the Great Flood.
HOST: That’s amazing to hear! Now, Dr. Patrick, I’ve been hearing some rumors lately that perhaps you can speak to.
FRANK: Yeah, rumors, sure, anything to clear up some confusion.
HOST: Now, Mr. Patrick, certainly you were thankful that your position as Deputy Director of the lab elevated you from Tier Four to Tier One status, correct?
FRANK: Yes, of course! It’s been amazing serving my compatriots. [Trying to put on a façade]
HOST: If you truly are a supportive compatriot, you would never do anything to jeopardize the tier system and the status of your fellow Tier Ones, correct?
FRANK: [Nervously] No. No I wouldn’t. Of course not.
HOST: Well according to the information right here in front of me, [papers rustling] you have been running an off-the-grid operation to feed the local Tier Four tenements. That would be a serious violation of code. Of course, I am giving you the chance right now to respond to these allegations.
FRANK: Well, I mean, that’s just plain false. I promise I would never do anything like that – [Two men are heard grabbing FRANK from his seat as he is dragged off into the background. Silence.]
PODCAST NARRATOR: This piece was inspired by an original short story by Maya James. The part of the radio host was played by Charlie Heveran. The part of Dr. Frank Patrick was played by Duncan Maier.
EMILY: Next up is Akhil’s piece.
HOST INTRO: 10 years ago, over 100 girls mysteriously disappeared. These girls had a special condition that made them immune to Wasteaway. As the disease becomes increasingly prevalent, it has been my goal to uncover the mystery behind it. My name is Akhil Kambhammettu and I’m a reporter from the national public broadcasting services.
AKHIL: My guest today is, Marisol Fletcher, who is the mother of one of the girls who went missing. Marisol, thank you so much for coming in today.
MARISOL: Thank you for doing this story
AKHIL: Before we get into the details, please tell us... what was your daughters name?
AKHIL: I’m sorry?
MARISOL: Is… her name is Elle
AKHIL: my apologies. I didn’t mean to assume…
MARISOL: It’s fine...I like to believe she is still out there...Somewhere. I still remember her clearly. She used to come home and cook dinner with me. She would beg me to sing for her, every night...before dinner. She brought an energy to our house that wasn’t there without her, at least not after Wasteaway.
AKHIL: What was it like raising a child, I mean the way it was. It must’ve been hard, especially since the disease was starting to spread around the time you had her.
MARISOL: I knew I wanted a child. My husband did not feel the same way. I prayed to god that my child would be born without the disease. I stayed indoors as much as possible, took supplements, made sure I got enough rest. When she was born, she came out perfect. 9 and a half pounds, bright blue eyes, so full of life.
AKHIL: And then she…
Marisol: ….disappeared. We tried to hide her.... for years. By the time she was 9 the conservers had taken control of our neighborhood. Children started to disappear.
AKHIL: How? Why didn’t anyone say anything? How did they let the conservers just walk on?
MARISOL: You still don’t understand do you…? The entire world was falling apart around us. Food was scarce, water was contaminated. The conservers had all of us under their thumb. Everyone from police to government officials. They had the money, so everyone followed.
AKHIL: Okay. But what did the conservers want with your daughter? Why were they after her specifically?
MARISOL: They wanted to study her. Figure out why she was immune and other children weren’t. They wanted to use her as a lab experiment.
You see… The conservers weren’t just after a cure. They wanted complete control.
AKHIL: When did she disappear?
MARISOL: November 19th, 2025. It was like any other day. I went to work in the morning, said bye to Elle, but when I came home...she was gone...I looked everywhere. There was no sign of anyone breaking in. I couldn't go to the police, because they were under the conservers control… and I was sure it was the conservers. I should’ve known, I should’ve taken her with me, done something.
AKHIL: I’m sorry…. What happened after?
MARISOL: No more announcements, no more patrols, no more signs. The conservers disappeared, Just like the girls they took. That’s how I know it was them. That’s how I know they took Elle.
AKHIL: I think we’re running out of time, but I want to thank you for coming in today and speaking with us. Before we leave, I want to invite listeners to call in and give us their thoughts.
*Cell phone rings*
AKHIL: Hello, welcome to the National public broadcasting services. What’s your name?
ELLE: I want to speak to my mother
AKHIL: who is this?
*Music and credits*
AKHIL: And last but not least we have Emily’s.
My dearest brother,
I do miss you. Mother tells me not to...but I do. It almost feels like I have to. If I don’t who will. I don’t mean she doesn’t miss you. What I mean is...well I don’t know actually. I wonder what you do with your time now. I know you have no means of responding, but I guess I can pretend. I can pretend you’re somewhere sunny...some place where the people treat you kindly and you are more than just a number, a number that defines you. You know what, let’s not talk about what it’s like here. Or I guess I won’t talk about what it’s like here, since you don’t have a choice.
Anyway, maybe you’re near a beach, I found a picture of mother at the beach and I don’t think anything has ever looked so magical. So maybe you’re on the beach where you can hear the waves and birds and the sun is so hot you feel like you could catch on fire, like you could just burn into a million tiny pieces. But then a slight breeze passes and you feel as if you could do this forever. You look at the world around you through some cool tinted Ray Ban’s and realize you really could do this forever. I can almost feel the sun and the breeze with you...taste the saltwater... No, not for me...I want this for you. This is how I’ll imagine you... I don’t really care if it’s accurate. For now, the lies are enough.
Enjoy the beach, brother. Maybe I’ll join you later.
Your dearest sister.
SISTER- LETTER II
It is Wednesday...you know how I despise Wednesday’s. Perhaps, where you are they don’t exist. That would be nice.
I can hear them knocking on the neighbor’s door now. They are taking the entire family. I don’t think you ever met them. They moved in after you left. They were nice enough, but I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore. They’re gone now. If they can take an entire family from that home, what is stopping them from taking me and mother. Our house is the only one left on the block left untouched. I don’t know why mother is scared. She isn’t herself anymore. She should want to leave. Maybe mother left with you. I wish you could let me know if she did.
Your dearest sister.
SISTER- LETTER III
My dearest brother,
I miss you every moment.
I apologize if this letter is incoherent. They just knocked at the door. Mother made me answer. They just wanted to know how many people were still left in our house. 2. 2 I said. But they already knew that. They were just letting us know they’ll be back soon. It’s kind of accommodating actually, them letting us know. At least we have time to prepare. I have to cut this letter short. Mother can’t be alone right now. I think it might be better this way. But she can’t be alone right now.
Your dearest sister.
SISTER- FINAL LETTER
My dearest dearest brother,
They just took mother. I wish they had taken me too. I hope they take me soon. I want them to take me, take me to that room where the fire feels like the sun. Where I can burn into a million tiny pieces. I hope that’s what it feels like, dying that way. Then I can join you and mother on a beach. I hope you’ll wait for me. Tell mother I love her. We hadn’t said that in a long time. I love you too. I love you both.
Lay out a towel on the sand for me, okay? I’ll be right there.
Your dearest sister.
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
EMILY: BURN is based off of a short story by Enat Ayele.
Performance of sister played by Jasmine Sharma.
Script and editing by Emily Burns.
EMILY: Thank you so much for listening. We hope you enjoyed and please let us know what you want to hear next time.
AKHIL: Yeah thanks for sticking with us and tune in for our next episode.
CHARLIE: Thanks everyone.
Episode 1: Isolation
JENNIFER: Can you describe the last time you felt trapped or powerless?
CHRIS: I wasn’t paying attention in one of my classes, and then my professor, like, asked me a question and I did not know the answer to it.
GRACE: My phone broke, heh, and I couldn’t get into CAESAR.
JASON: I was boxing yesterday, and I was facing someone better than me, and he was punching me in the face.
ROBERT: Unfortunately, a lot of times in my relationship. ‘Cuz they deal with depression and anxiety. So I just kinda have to sit there and watch everything unfold and like turn to alcohol.
ALEX: We heard two people outside. They were saying, “Hey, is this the place?” - duffel bags unzipping, and I was like, well, this is how we die.
OLIVIA: When Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
MATTLYN: When I was 12, my father called me, and was going to commit suicide.
BEN: Literally just this morning, I read about the UN’s climate change report, and how we have like ten years before we’re all completely fucked.
HANNAH: That period in September before we came back to school. It felt like I was trapped in my hometown, like, trying to find things to do, and I was just so anxious to get back here.
ANNA: Hi, I’m Anna
BAYLOR: I’m Baylor.
JENNIFER: I’m Jennifer. And those were the voices of Northwestern students I interviewed on the street last month. Welcome to Dystopias in Real Life. In this episode, we’ll be talking about The Handmaid’s Tale, this year’s OneBook. It was written over three decades ago, but as we found out this quarter, its messages about power are still relevant to young people today.
ANNA: Absolutely. You know, people can feel powerless in many different situations. For some people it’s very specific to their own life, but there are also institutional systems of power that make whole communities feel powerless.
BAYLOR: So we’re about to play a fictional piece that’s based off of a short story written by Allie Berkey, a Northwestern student. I play a character named Olivia who gets thrown into a society where a corporation makes her feel powerless.
BAYLOR as OLIVIA: The longer I’m here, the more I realize I need to be documenting everything that happens. I asked around a little, and this girl got me this recorder, so I’m gonna try and detail what has been happening. I’ve been on this island for a few months now, and every morning begins with this guard’s annoying incessant voice. PlanCorp makes us put on this uniform and then go to breakfast, and we have oatmeal and water, and then it’s off to the fields to work. Some girls have to go to the factory, but most go to the fields. I still can’t believe that I’m even here. We just wanted to have a great vacation, but the water started making these hives show up on people’s bodies, and then there were fish skeletons showing up on the beach. We stayed for our whole vacation though, and when we tried to leave, well, they stopped us at the bridge. They told us that we couldn’t leave until they had made sure we were all toxicity free. A week after we got stopped, Dad, he-he received an email that said that PlanCorp needed female workers to come to PlantIsle to work. I now know that PlantIsle is one of the last places here with fertile land. Anyway, the email talked about how it would be great. There would be money given to the family in exchange for a female worker. And you know, at first, Dad, he-he tried he tried to contact someone to get me out of here. His connection said there was no way he could help, and I thought that Dad was going to fight harder than that for me, but maybe Dad just wanted off this island that bad or maybe he cared about getting mom off more than me. Anyway, one day he-he let the corporation take me, so that’s how I ended up here, and I had no power to resist whenever they came to take me that morning, and you know the longer that I ponder on-on everything that happened, the more I just can’t stand being here, and you know I’ve been thinking about it for a while now, I-I think I’m going to do it. I’m going to get out of here.
ANNA: We also talked to several students who experienced situations in today’s society where other people tried to control them.
BAYLOR: The first story that we have to share is about a Northwestern freshman’s senior prom. He told me that during high school there were popular kids, but he and his friends were “popular adjacent,” meaning he was around that group of people, but not really a part of them. While this may not be as serious as Offred’s isolation in The Handmaid’s Tale it definitely mirrors some of that....
STEPHEN: I went to my girlfriend’s house and the other girls in our group met us there. We took pictures then we left from there to go downtown to Sedona Taphouse, a local favorite restaurant. I’m not too fond of it, frankly confessed. We saw a bunch of out friends there, but yeah...ohhh there’s actually a sad moment because, okay, here’s the thing one of the girl’s in our group was a popular girl. And she said. She said last year, junior yearn cause I was in homeroom with her. My last name starts with a W. Hers begins with a V, so we were in the same homeroom. She told me, out of nowhere, that she hated me junior year because she thought I was weird. Quote, ‘thought I was weird’ like without knowing me at all at dinner. I was like bitch. Like why would you say that right now, like at senior prom like you could’ve just sat on that. Like I low-key would’ve carried that with me to the grave like if it had been me. I think she would’ve never said that to me if I’d like been fully integrated into the popular kids, but that’s life.
SPEARS: This made him see the separation between himself and the “popular kids,” but he didn’t let that stop him from having an incredible night. It just made it clear why he didn’t really care to be a part of that group in the first place.
I definitely would have been able to be in with the popular kids if I had like surrendered to like their values their instruments of social control that just like installed within their clique, but like no one's going to tell me like how I'm going to act. If I think someone's behaving in a way that they shouldn't be and it's like affecting other people, especially myself, I'm definitely going to say something about it. That’s generally something that doesn't happen. You know people never want to confront each other, but I'm just like like we all have human shortcomings, you know we have to engage with them and understand them and move past them.
ANNA: I spoke with a Northwestern freshman who comes from a small town in Illinois where she was one of just a few black people. In her community, the prevalence of the Confederate flag, which symbolizes white supremacy, can be compared to the racial hierarchy highlighted in the society of The Handmaid’s Tale.
ANNA: As Emily grew up, she realized being a minority in her town made some interactions complicated.
EMILY PATE-SOMÉ: White kids at my school, they’d like to tell me about other racist people, and so they’d be like, “Oh my gosh, he’s racist,” and I’d be like, “Okay, thanks for telling me…” So like there was this kid that everyone kept telling me was racist, and he would actually wear a confederate flag on his belt buckle, so I just like didn’t talk to him. I’m just like, ‘I’m just not gonna be his friend, I guess…” So this one chick, she literally wore confederate flag press on nails. I didn’t even know those were a thing, yet she would talk to me all the time and I’d be like, “Okay, cool…” This one kid who used to wear confederate flags, he used to fly a confederate flag from his truck all the time and then he wore like confederate flag t-shirts to school, he would like help me with my physics homework when I never even ask for it. I know you might be like, ‘Well, maybe he’s just being friendly’, but why would he…be friendly? The last thing that happened, it was graduation day. This kid, Eli, who’s racist and wears the Confederate flag on his belt buckle, he sees me and he’s like, “Hey Emily! How are you?” And I’m like, “Hi Eli…” and I’m like, ‘What the heck?’ And my mom’s like, “Isn’t that the racist kid?” and I’m like, “Yeah.” and she’s like, “What is this town?...”
ANNA: While this behavior seemed contradictory to Emily, she explained how she chose to think about the experience.
EMILY PATE-SOMÉ: I was constantly aware of this one difference between us all, but it, it allowed me to, not understand where they were coming from in the way of sympathizing with them, but understanding how those beliefs came to be.
This is what I kind of compare it to: so there was this guy, he was a black man. He infiltrated the KKK. He got like forty people from the KKK to get out of it just by talking to them, and I got to actually see that first hand. Obviously, they’re still racist, but I could see how if they met me and then if they met more and more black people, more and more people from different cultures, how that could eventually, what’s the word, they could eventually change.
JENNIFER: I spoke with a Northwestern freshman who had an experience when she was younger that reminded her of the way Gilead punishes people for not conforming.
KHADEEJAH: There was a block between my elementary school and a high school. And in the middle was The Black Market store. Candy was sold for like five cents. Everyone went there after school or before school because it was always open. And so one day, I remember seeing a high schooler in there, and she wore a hijab. She seemed super cool. It seemed like she was distressed in a way? But I was like... oh, maybe it's just like, high school. And then she left. So I was like, okay, I'll never see her again. But then I walk out, and she was standing there and then someone else from the high school that was obviously not Muslim, was just saying like...take it off, take it off. It was just like very intense, and like all you could see is the girl, she was-she was in tears. She was wearing a hat on top of her hijab and she took off her hat and then the person was like, no, take it off, take it off. And then slowly she took off her hijab. This was right after school ended, so everyone was like walking back and forth. And we were all there, but like no one said anything. And I was in the fifth grade, so I didn't really know what I could do, but it was just very, like, frazzling to me. When I went home, for like a month, I was just very sad. Because she was alone and no one was there to help her, and even though people saw her, they didn't do anything. I saw how alone people from different groups feel, when they're on the street and they don't feel connected to anyone. When I grew up, like, I wanted to wear a hijab because it was like having a sense of community with people that you don't even know, just because you see your identity being shown. And I try to make my difference in the world by connecting with as many people as I can.
ANNA: If you want to share your story of overcoming the feeling of being powerless, reach out to a friend. This way, the world feels a little less like The Handmaid’s Tale.JENNIFER: Thanks for tuning in. This has been Dystopias in Real Life, a podcast produced by Anna Margevich, Baylor Spears, and Jennifer Zhan.