SENIOR ISSUE OPINION: Letter from the editor

Atarah Israel, Editor-in-chief

I look at my own body

With eyes no longer blind—

And I see that my own hands can make

The world that’s in my mind.

-Langston Hughes

I can’t remember the first time I ran across this quote. Somewhere tucked away in a corner of the internet dedicated to poetry blogs and reviews, I found Hughes’ words of encouragement, and they’ve stuck with me since. Written during a time when racial segregation was rampant and violence normalized, his poem “I Look at the World” illustrates the value in harnessing your inner power to make seemingly impossible change. In many ways the ideologies that vexed Hughes to write the poem remain relevant today, which is probably why I’ve grown so attached to it. 

Though I am unable to recall my first time seeing the poem, I can recall with vivid recollection the numerous times those words ricocheted through my mind in the wake of daunting challenges. Probably the most poignant (and relevant) challenge that sticks in memory is my first year of high school. As I entered the doors of MHS for the first time freshman year, like everyone else I was acutely aware of the long road ahead of me, and the vast amount of ways my identity would be shaped by those next four years—the blank canvas that stood before me was overwhelming.

Despite this, little by little, my personal painting began to take shape, as I’m sure it did for most others. By the beginning of my sophomore year, I began to feel sure of my place among my peers and the direction I was headed. Just as quickly as my life portrait began to coalesce, however, the canvas began to tear. This was much worse than a simple mistake of a brush, no—learning to balance my education while existing in the midst of a pandemic seemed to be an insurmountable obstacle; the painting that I once thought I had was destroyed, and I was left to start anew.

Now graduating in the wake of a pandemic, it is easy to forget the ways our world hasn’t changed, and difficult to remember the ambitions of our freshman selves. Though now the world around us is much different than what we imagined as underclassmen, it is still one that we will greatly influence. Once again, we are faced with a blank canvas, another collection of years waiting to be shaped by our perspectives and aspirations. Like Langston, I too want to see a world shaped for the better—that will only begin if we start to craft what we envision, one piece at a time.