Racism Fatigue

Last weekend, I attended a zine festival. I was excited, because I knew I was going to see friends of color I hadn’t been able to connect with since moving back to my city.  While folks seemed okay for the most part, I noticed a weariness with a lot of them. The DIY (Do It Yourself) event showcased the creative writings/art/comics of those who self-publish. The history of the festival has traditionally been white hipsters. This year, organizers worked hard to center the voices/work of writers/artists/activists of color. The overall theme was how marginalized communities are resisting the resurgence of hateful racism happening in America.

I actually was invited as one of the guest speakers, and hosted a workshop specifically for Black women/non-binary black folks. My workshop was called “The 94%: Dusting Off Our Shoulders,” after a piece I wrote for a women of color zine collective I contribute to. The workshop was a continuation to the homage I wrote to Black women. Black women were a powerful force during last year’s election. It wasn’t so much because Black women overwhelming voted for a potential woman for president (while white women let Clinton down), but rather the bigger issue of Black women’s activism, leadership, and organizing skills that were ignored by mainstream media, including “progressives.” Instead the media focused on the woes of the white working class, especially white women.

We had a heartfelt conversation about this at the workshop. The thing I that stood out to me the most was the fact Black women are exhausted.  We are giving are all to better our communities/society as a whole, and keep getting degraded/rendered invisible. Later, I thought about this discussion, as well as remembering the tired faces of some of my friends of color, I encountered that weekend.

The Message (Grandmaster Flash)

Racism fatigue is hurting our health. I mean, at this point, what more can Black/Brown folks do? We’ve written scholarly books. We’ve put on insightful plays. We’ve read soul-stirring poetry. We’ve made numerous truth-telling movies. Hell, Black/Brown folks even created a whole new genre of music, rap, to discuss these issues (early rap music focused on the lives of poor Black/Latino youth).

Yet, despite it all, studies show that most white folks still tend to hold stereotypical views of Black folks/folks of color. It doesn’t matter if we’ve gotten the degrees, have traditional relationships,  or “act right…” most white folks still tend to see Black folks as less than. It’s strange. One would think it was Black folks who held white folks in slavery for hundreds of years, and continually denied them their basic human rights.

It’s not that we’ve given up hope. It’s just that we are “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” to quote Fannie Lou Hamer. We keep giving and giving, and all we’re getting back in return is a kick in the ribs.

 

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New Year’s Giving #2

Sorry about that y’all. I’ve been a bit neglectful keeping the blog updated. Thank goodness the holidays are over. That was such a stressful time. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! (I hope you got your spoonful of black-eyed peas 🙂 Unfortunately, we are starting 2017 with the inauguration of a President who has made it clear he is anti-people of color/women (don’t be fooled by the celebrities of color who are kissing azz for their own benefit). I encompass both, so Trump will be no ally to me.

It’s more important than ever to support marginalize voices/communities, as these groups will not be able to look to the new administration to align with those who aren’t  white, male, and wealthy.

As someone who is a big lover of DIY (Do It Yourself) culture…I urge folks to financially/promote alternative forms of media/activism, as we will need these resources to keep ourselves safe and heard these next four years.

Here are a FEW to connect with:

Black Girl Dangerous: “Amplifying The Voices of Queer & Trans People of Color.”

Black Women’s Blue Print: “Black Women’s Blueprint envisions a world where women and girls of African descent are fully empowered and where gender, race and other disparities are erased.”

Feminist Wire: “The mission of The Feminist Wire is to provide socio-political and cultural critique of anti-feminist, racist, and imperialist politics pervasive in all forms and spaces of private and public lives of individuals globally.”

Brown Recluse Zine Distro:“Zine culture is not white culture. D.I.Y. culture is not white culture. Punk is not inherently white culture. So in the spirit of resistance, in the spirit of visibility and in the spirit of celebrating our cultures and intersectionality: Brown Recluse Zine Distro.”

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Black Women and the PIC

While I was banished to the land of sickness,  I was still able to see Kendrick Lamar’s interesting Grammy Performance. The 28-year-old rapper made a heartfelt statement about black men and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC).

It was a bold stand at an event that has become too pop/boring/white washed.  I know I personally haven’t paid attention to the Grammy Awards show in years.

I read an article critiquing the lack of space given to black women prisoners in his performance. I’m willing to give Lamar a slight pass for this. As a young man, he’s probably had more experience with his male friends/relatives/young folks he mentors having contact with police/the prison system.

With that said, despite black women being incarcerated at an alarming rate as much/if not more so than black men, the focus still tends to be on black men in prison.

Years ago, I took a class on women and the PIC. Our class read “Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women,” by Victoria Law. Law, an anarchist writer and prison abolitionist, detailed her experiences working with women prisoners. A zinester/DIY artist, she helped the women create a zine showcasing their words/art on prison life. The majority of women she came into contact with had children.This brings me to why it’s urgent we also focus on black women in prison.

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The truth is, women tend to be the primary caretakers of their families. It doesn’t matter if there is a male partner in the home or not. This is particularly true in black communities, were we rely heavily on our extended female relatives.

A disturbing trend I noticed in our class readings, is that whole black communities are being wiped out due to the PIC. It’s leaving significant amounts of black children without parents or guardians. Because not only are the mothers being overly incarcerated for minor/non violent offenses, but so are grandmothers/aunties/cousins etc. I remember reading about a grandmother and her daughter and the daughter’s daughter all locked up   in the same prison (drug addictions). The young daughter’s children were in foster care. There was no one to take care of them.

These mothers are losing custody of their children left and right. Obviously, they are in prison. They can’t just walk down to the local courthouse to attend court dates etc .

The PIC is destroying black motherhood/families. This issue really needs to be addressed in folks anti-PIC activism. Good job to Lamar for highlighting the problem of black men in prison, but we need to expand the conversation.

Randomness: “no one remembered…”

As folks know, I’m about that zine/self-publishing life. I was pleasantly surprised when a good friend shared she was venturing into DIY (Do It Yourself) work. I know she has always wanted to establish herself with a major publishing company. She said it was I that made her fall in love with small press (yes!) I met Olivia Olivia a few years ago when I organized my city’s first women of color zine symposium. Olivia Olivia was a young woman who let you know she was in the room. We quickly became buddies as we were both foodies at heart. Olivia Olivia writes about her experiences as a Salvadoran author/activist.  In her new chapbook “no one remembered your name but i wrote it down” chronicles her time living in Berlin, growing up as an undocumented youth, and the death of a beloved sister.

A great addition to anyone’s zine/small press collection 🙂

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Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund

I love interesting DIY (Do It Yourself) crowdfunding projects.  I came across the Black Feminist Film School Fellowship Fund on Facebook. They are so close to their goal. Support if you can 🙂

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“The answer, the vision, the liberation. Black Feminist Film School is an initiation journey that will transform all involved toward love and light. I invite you to join in and support in the ways that make sense for you….Black Feminist Film School Summer Session (bffs Summer Session) will take place June – August 2014. We will be focusing on building skill and practice as Black Feminist storytellers using the filmmaking medium and accompanying art forms. Within the three month session we will cover all phases of filmmaking including research and writing, pre-production, production and post-production.” http://www.alexispauline.com/apgblog/cause-view/support-the-black-feminist-film-school-fellowship-fund/

I have a lot of respect for Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs. She’s an amazing young artist/organizer/radical activist. She is also a fellow zinester.  I have the SPEAK! CD that she and fellow women of color zinesters created a few years ago.   It should be added to folks DIY collection. Check out this great interview with Dr. Gumbs:


 

The Pamphleteer Project

I heart zines and Indiegogo campaigns, so you know I’m feeling The Pamphleteer Project:

“HI! MY NAME IS MARYA– I’m the founder of ABQ Zine Fest, (now in its 4th year) The Albuquerque Zine Library, and a co-founder/curator of The Tannex, a DIY performance clubhouse, in this outpost, in the high desert of New Mexico. I love my creative community, and I do a lot to support and nurture it. I’m asking for your support as I embark on a new project that expands my love for zines, self-publishing, and storytelling . . .THE PAMPHLETEER PROJECT MISSION: to help diversify existing zine collections, or help establish new ones by presenting women/feminist focused, people of color influenced, gender-inclusive zines and comics to groups and collectives around the world.” https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pamphleteer-project

I have met Marya a couple of times at zine festivals. She’s a great writer, researcher, and artist. I love her Mocha Chocolata Momma zine (isn’t the name da bomb…yes breaking out my 90’s slang).

Y’all know I’m big supporter of DIY (Do It Yourself) folks, so help Marya if ya can! She has some nice perks! 🙂

DIY Black Women-4

I’m a zinester. What’s a zinester? It’s someone who makes zines. What’s a zine? Zine is a take on the word “magazine” it’s a form of DIY self-publishing.  I live on the West Coast and zine culture is very popular here. Zines are typically done by younger folks. Those in their early 20’s. So, I’m a nontraditional zinester 🙂  However, all ages can make them. Zines tend to be typically made by marginalized groups whose voices are left out of mainstream media . These folks include: radical women of color,  activists/feminists of color, LGBTQ folks of color, anarchists, prison abolitionists, sex workers, etc.

I became a zinester by accident. I needed to do a creative project for a class and a friend suggested I make a zine. I had never heard about zines before. I researched and liked the concept of it. I’ve been part of zine culture ever since. I host workshops for women of color zinesters/DIY publishers as we are still underrepresented in the NW.  It’s definitely getting better, though 🙂

The People of Color Zine Project is a great resource  if you want to learn more about the history/activism of people of color zinesters/DIY artists.

Check out this fun video on how to make a zine:

I hope you enjoyed this week on DIY projects! Have a great weekend 🙂

Happy Holidays!! (Blogcation)

I just want to give a shout out to all the folks who have been following this blog. The purpose of my blog is to deconstruct the images/representations of black women in media (movies, music, etc.).  It came out of the creation of my zine “See Me: Issues that Affect Our Lives, Acts of Resistance against Oppression, and Black Feminist Thought.” I hope to write more about zines/zine culture next year.

In the words of India.Aire “Now don’t be offended this is all my opinion, Ain’t nothing that I’m saying law”all my posts are my take/opinions on how racism, sexism, classism, and other “isms” affect black women’s lives.  I don’t have all the answers (unlike Sway ;). I am just trying to offer a different perspective…

If you celebrate, I wish ya happy holidays. I am going on blogcation. I’m not planning to do too much this holiday season. I visited the peeps last year, so I can wait until next year to go back 😉  But I plan to relax, catch up on my reading, etc. The blog will resume in early January 2014.

See folks next year!!

 

 

Women of Color Zine Workshops

I  am the founder of monthly zine workshops for women of color. The purpose is to encourage women of color to write, engage in cultural criticism, and self-publish.

Poster by woc zine member Ebin Lee.
Poster by woc zine member Ebin Lee. Check out more of their work @ http://ebinlee.weebly.com/

Stay connected to us via our website: http://wocpdxzines.wordpress.com/

This summer, we are hosting our 2nd Women of Color Zine Symposium. Saturday, Jun 8th, 2013 @ Portland State University/Smith Memorial Student Union.  10am-4:30pm. The schedule is still being determined.

The event is free and open to the pubic. Allies are encouraged to attend.

POC Zine Project

I heart the POC Zine Project…it’s a great way to learn about the history/work of women of color/people of color zinesters and  artists..

From their website: Our mission is to make all zines by people of color easy to find, distribute and share. We are an experiment in activism and community through materiality.

you can go to their tumblr to learn more: http://poczineproject.tumblr.com/