HeartAttaCk columnist and activist Helen Luu recently edited a compilation zine called How To Stage A Coup, aimed at creating a dialogue among people of color involved in subcultural pursuits (including punk rock) around race, racism and politics.
Contributors like Lauren Martin (You Might As Well Live, Quantify), Lynn Hou (Cyanide), Celia Prez (I Dreamed I Was Assertive), Elizabeth Martinez (Colorlines) and Vincent Chung address a wide variety of issues from organizing and identity politics, to activist dynamics and punk rock betrayals.
What does it mean to look at the photographs of Third World suffering on the covers of grindcore records? What does it mean to talk about “pride”? Where was the “color” in Seattle/WTO? What comes first – “being brown or being famous”?
The contributors to this compilation ask important questions that need asking, again and again, and Helen Luu brings it all together.
Interview by Mimi Nguyen.
How did HTSAC come together, conceptually and practically?
I’ve been doing zines for a few years now and because of this, have also read a lot of zines and corresponded with lots of people. I started noticing that some zine kids have some really fucked-up notions about issues like racism and that zine culture, like punk rock, is mostly this sea of white – not only in terms of people but also in terms of ideas and ideology and perspectives and that sort of thing.
At the same time though, I would sometimes come across amazing zines by kick-ass people of color with really great critical commentary on race. One day, into my lap fell Evolution of a Race Riot, which was this compilation zine put together over a number of years by you, and which was filled with writings and art by some amazing people of color. It was hands down the most inspiring and empowering zine I had ever read, because this was the first thing I had ever encountered that was about us, by us, and for us, on our own terms.
And it was this collection of voices from all over North America who might not even have otherwise known about each other were it not for the zine.
I am proud to say that HTSAC is in the spirit of Evolution of a Race Riot because our fire ain’t gonna die down! To all our misguided friends and enemies: be very very afraid. As people of color, we need to build on and continue positive projects like Evolution of a Race Riot.
I felt that it was important that HTSAC be by, for, and about people of color because a lot of us want to engage in a different kind of discourse. A lot of us are really sick and tired of constantly having to play the role of “educator” to white people who just don’t get it, and who instead accuse us of “reverse discrimination,” of being “too angry,” of being “ungrateful immigrants” because they feel that their positions of white privilege and power might be threatened.
So anyway, I just started putting out the word about the zine, making the call for contributions, and when I finally decided to get my shit together and stop putting it off, I started nagging people more for submissions and they just started to pour in.