Think of poor Chi Chi,
whose isolation from other giant pandas
was thought to make her uninterested in them.
Who could blame her,
when, brought to Russia for mating purposes,
she presented herself
to one of the zookeepers instead?
This is and isn’t what I mean.
The day Trump is inaugurated, I try to watch
the One Direction documentary for the first time
but have to settle for clips and interviews
on YouTube. Make a mental list
of phrases that turn up no results when searched
on the White House website. I was shocked
to hear Zayn’s accent in the videos,
the strength of its looping
working class rhythms. Try to reproduce the sound
in written interviews he’s done, like the first
after leaving One Direction, when he’s asked
if he feels pressured to set a good example
as the most visible Muslim in the West.
The day after the Inauguration,
my mother and sister march for over eight hours
in DC. At the Pittsburgh rally, I pull up
a photo of Zayn looking seriously at the camera.
It makes me feel better to look at him,
which makes no sense but is at least the truth.
People I respect believe we should unchain ourselves
from the tyranny of human beauty.
As if we lived in a world spoiled by it.
Maybe we do. Before I knew
what Zayn looked like, I knew him as one of the few
celebrities to tweet #FreePalestine
and not delete it immediately after. Now
typing “Palestine” into the government
search bar yields no results, though it’s difficult to tell
whether this began with Trump. It’s not even the harassment,
he says, about why he doesn’t speak out more.
I just don’t want to be influential in that sense.
I get it. In one video, Zayn is wearing a leather jacket.
He turns away from a fish wriggling in a net, says
he doesn’t like seeing it struggle like that.
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Gabrielle Ralambo-Rajerison is American-born by way of the Malagasy diaspora. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, where she is writing about the possibility of Black love amidst global anti-Blackness. Like her selfies on Twitter: @amerikanina.