POC ZINE PROJECT

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Let’s Talk About: ‘The Truth Tour and how to be an ally at POC and Native events’

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By Cata, POCZP East Coast Intern

The Truth Tour consists of folks from the Pine Ridge reservation of South Dakota and allies, traveling to different cities in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic to tell their stories, advocating for a return to matriarchal leadership and raising awareness of the ongoing genocide of their people. The event I attended was a film screening of the documentary “Red Cry,” held in Washington, DC, on April 16th.

Below is an entry point into a continuous conversation, not a rule book. 

A big question that surrounds POC (people of color) events from those outside of the community holding the event is "how can I be an ally?"

A simple answer to these questions is to put your self in service to the community and don’t take up space. 

DC ‘TRUTH TOUR' EVENT RECAP

April 16 – Washington, DC – Metropolitan Community Church of DC – 6:30pm

When the Lakota Grandmothers came to DC in April, my partner and I cooked a meal for an event as an act of support/solidarity. What follows here are my reflections as an audience member/participant in the film screening event.

I write with a strong desire to contribute to a (hopefully) ongoing conversation of allyship. The night of the event in DC there were many important voices and stories shared. The group had come a long way to spread their voices. I am thankful for their journey. I felt blessed to be among these strong travelers and hope to meet them again one day.

However, among the powerful stories offered there were important voices and stories that were missed. Here are some things I observed as I watched the evening pass with a complex interplay of isms and unchecked privileges.

For days afterward I couldn’t get out of my head the Q&A session after the “Red Cry” screening. 

The white anarchist/activist who stood up and said “I don’t know about the rest of the room, but me and my house mates on THIS side of the room- we’re REALLY in SOLIDARITY with you all! REALLY!”

This wasn’t a question; it was a comment offered perhaps to receive an ego stroke from the audience/caravaners and it was distracting.

Then, there was an African-American woman who stood up asking to be part of the Lakota people, referencing her own Native heritage. It was refreshing to see a person of color seeking to honor their indigenous heritage— but the word use: “Can I be a part of you?” made my face scrunch.

Again, this was not a question pertaining to their journey or to the film.

Then, three or four folks raised their hands… again without questions… but instead with gifts. Literally folks were walking up to an elder with shells, books and bags of what? I don’t know.

Weird? Yes. Distracting? Yes. Ego strokes? Yes and yes.

Three-quarters of the way through the event, the main Native male speaker who had been speaking the most and facilitating, acknowledged that the others on his caravan, including most of the women, had not spoken. He suggested that they go down the line and share something.

"Yes, finally!" I thought, time to hear everyones voice. But, wait. One more person in the audience needs the spot light and asks a question/comment…then POOF! Our time is done.

A song is sung and things are wrapped up. There is never time to hear the voices of the other Native folks, most of them women, from the caravan.

NEXT STEPS

As POC organizers we need to reflect:

  • On this Truth Tour designed to advocate a return to matriarchy, how did the Native man facilitating (and the crew as a whole) not realize that his voice was filling the time available at the expense of other (female) voices from the caravan?
  • How do we as POC organizers/activists let inter-communities privileges distract or disappear an important layer in our events or projects? 
  • How did the audience continue on unaware of their distracting behavior?
  • Why did certain audience members(and why do some folks) think it was/is ok to deconstruct their internal conflicts on some one else’s time?

This brings me back to allyship. Here are some ways to be an ally:

1) Be aware of your layers (gender, colourism, class, race, orientation, shyness etc).

2) Take your OWN time to process privilege, settlers guilt etc.

3) Do your service, go home and process in your journal or with other allies about your experience and how to be a better ally next time.

It’s all good. We are all learning here, but to distract from someone else’s event/or project with your own internal conflicts is unchecked privilege. To disappear someone else’s voice or story with your own, no matter if you’re an ally or a member of the community is rude. These patterns disrupt progress.

Privileges unchecked and unprocessed hurt ourselves and our communities. Until we learn as how to beware of our layers and hold one another accountable the biggest thing that will come of our events and projects in the eyes of others (and maybe ourselves) is debriefing the distractions.

Distractions are annoying. And, distractions are NOT solidarity. Lets move the focus back.

NYC ‘TRUTH TOUR’ EVENT RECAP

April 8, 2013 – New York City, NY, Judson Memorial Church- 239 Thompson St. (Solidarity/Decolonization Training) – 7:00pm

By Anonymous contributor to POCZP

I attended the Indigenous Solidarity and Decolonizing Training at Judson Memorial Church in hopes of learning more about the Lakota people, their struggles, and what it means to be in solidarity with indigenous communities. I was looking forward to participating in conversations about the meaning of decolonization and how one develops and sustains a political praxis around decolonizing the self in relation to community.

These days I have been thinking a lot about what it means for me, a women of color to challenge the mindset of settler colonialism that is part of my privilege and my immigrant histories. I believe that the complexities of communities of color engaging with native and indigenous communities should not be limited to understand through reading books and watching documentaries, so I went to this event to listen, to learn, to say hello.

I have deep respect the leaders of this training, for their histories and communities, and for the ways in which they walk through this world. However what I experienced last night was triggering, frustrating, and very confusing.

All but one of the Lakota grandmothers was present and the reason for this was never clearly explained or discussed. We began by asking those in the room who have any European ancestry, to stand up. As expected nearly eighty plus percent of the room were of European descent; I was one of few women of color, and perhaps South Asian in the room who did not stand up.

I have a vague understand of the purpose of this exercise, to call attention to the active realities of colonization as part of people’s being, and that as privilege that you cannot erase. However the presenters did not once ask any questions or specifically engage with the people of color in the room to ask why there were present, what it means for people of color to experience colonialism, and how the displacement of communities of color can reinforce colonial oppressions that native peoples face.

Once again white people became the center focus of the discussion, a conversation that I am sick in tired of having.

How can we destroy the constructs of whiteness if we continually reify them in our political spaces through reliving trauma and shaming one another?

There were several instances where the main “teacher” of this “training” used disparaging language against biracial and multiracial people. They outlined the role of elderly women, or the grandmothers in the struggle without giving the elderly women in the room a chance to speak out on their own and share their stories.

There was a moment where a white man was being disruptive and the presenter challenged him on his behavior, but did not ask him to leave the room. Of course this man continued to be disruptive and my friend, a women of color, had to ask him to leave.

I could give further specifics and in detail but I am not interested in calling out the presenter or the organizers of this event. Rather, I write this to raise the question of how can we build solidarity and decolonize together when so many of our political spaces are dominated by the politics of whiteness and by those whom I gender as being male-identified and male-bodied?

What is it going to take for men to recognize their male-privilege and to step down, work together on building true allyship with women in the struggle, and to call each other out?

There is a lot to say about this training. I am vested in having these conversations in person, and with people I hope to build my politics and community with.

However, in sharing this, I hope we can have a more open and honest dialogue about how to challenge spaces that are political defunct in the moment, and how to create something new that has a liberating direction.

Editor’s Note: POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano attended the NYC Truth Tour date and put a call for feedback on the POCZP Facebook page. Subsequently, Daniela spoke with this anonymous contributor, who gave POCZP permission to publish their thoughts under the condition that they remain anonymous. POCZP respects their choice to remain anonymous, as often it can be very difficult and triggering as a POC to question POC-led movements/actions.

MORE ON THE APRIL 8 NYC TRUTH TOUR EVENT

Below are POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano’s thoughts on the NYC Truth Tour event, originally published on the POCZP Facebook page. She also recorded this positive moment at the end of the evening:

[DESCRIPTION: The event leaders asked attendees to participate in a round dance at the end of the event. Couples were placed in the middle circle, while the elders were in another circle around it. After a while, others who weren’t necessarily elders were encouraged to join the outer circle. Native and non-native folks participated in the dance. This video captures about 80% of the round dance duration.]

By Daniela Capistrano, POCZP founder

The event overall was (for folks we spoke to) very triggering and complex. I wish that more female elders spoke, since that is what the tour is about. However, I also understand that there is another related event where female elders will be speaking.

This event wasn’t an “easy” experience. Some folks said there wasn’t enough actual training and that it was more of a blame game. Others did not agree with this assessment at all and said they got a lot out of it.

The event leaders asked everyone at the start of the experience “to listen with your heart.” Some people in attendance had a very had time just listening and there were many privilege issues at play. One white male would not stop interjecting and made it all about him until he was asked to stop. He could not handle that feedback and left.

Another white male took up way too much time singing a “spiritual” song, making the focus about him instead of the elders. A white female spoke on behalf of a black male in attendance without his consent. Many interesting and triggering actions went down last night at this event, a microcosm of bigger issues at play …

Some participants had issues with being put on the spot based on race, class and gender. Another controversial facet of the training was when attendees were challenged to cut up their government IDs as a symbol of their commitment to decolonize. Clearly there are many factors that would inform someone’s decision to participate or not, such as citizenship status in the U.S. and the dangerous ramifications of not having ID while experiencing racial profiling or worse. Race, class and gender were also factors.

One could argue that this act of cutting up an ID meant nothing and was in fact hurtful to undocumented folks in attendance or others in tenuous circumstances. Lots to think about. But I aired on the side of listening with an open mind and staying until the end. I chose to cut up my ID to confront my privileges; to know what it felt like to destroy government issued materiality; and to think about all the privileges that made it so “easy” for me to cut up my ID without any real consequences. I did it for myself, didn’t judge those who didn’t and also doesn’t think that cutting an ID automatically “decolonized” my existence and mental state. For me, it was an act of undoing mental damage tied to identity politics.

I am glad that I did stay until the end of the event, because I was able to meet one of the female elders, who I hope will collaborate with POCZP on the Race Riot tour this fall, as #IdleNoMore is our core focus. 

Because I stayed until the end, I was able to capture the round dance on video, which had a very peaceful and healing affect for many who participated.

In closing, it’s 100% OK to not agree with all facets of a decolonizing event. It’s OK to not agree with the leaders and to walk out when you feel triggered. Several people did walk out. But I am glad that I stayed.

NOTICE: POCZP founder Daniela Capistrano reached out to Truth Tour organizers in April to share feedback and to discuss a possible collaboration for the Race Riot! tour. She also reached out again upon publishing this piece. We are patiently awaiting a response.

COMMUNITY: Help make this a productive conversation by adding your thoughts in your reblog.

RESOURCES

Educate yourself on what the Truth Tour is all about:

"Red Cry" information:

"Red Cry" premiered on April 1, 2013, at the Mother Butler Center in Rapid City, SD in Lakota Territory.  It was shown on consecutive nights in other cities as part of the Lakota Truth Tour.

Limited quantities of the Red Cry DVD are available for free.  If you would like a DVD sent to you, Truth Tour organizers request that you give a donation of $5 or more to cover the costs of shipping and materials.

Please mail your address and a check made payable to “Lakota Solidarity Project” to:

Lakota Solidarity Project
PO Box 881
Asheville, NC 28801

If you would like to show the film in your area, they ask that you download the Organizer Toolkit and use this as a model for how to organize the screening. Contact them if you are interested in screening “Red Cry.”

DONATE to the Lakota Solidarity Project/Truth Tour via PayPal by clicking here.

_____________________

“Let’s Talk About…” is an experimental series by POCZP created to share communal knowledge, resources and reflections on a wide range of topics affecting communities of color.

If you are a person of color—or a white person with a history of supporting POC Zine Project— who wants to contribute to “Let’s Talk About…” submit to poczineproject@gmail.com with “Let’s Talk About” in the subject line. 

All submissions to “Let’s Talk About…” will be compiled into a zine (print & digital) that will be released by POCZP in December of 2013.

_____________________

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

SPOTTED: POC Zine Project’s East Coast intern Cata in the South Bronx, preparing for D.C. Zine Fest!
Today Cata dropped by POCZP HQ in the South BX to pick up inventory for tabling at this year’s D.C. Zine Fest!
Be sure to support the fest and drop by our table, where Cata will have her own zines, as well as a selection of issues from our zine partners. Get a free poster and button and learn more about POC Zine Project!
D.C. ZINE FEST INFO
The 2012 DC Zinefest will be held on July 28th at St. Stephens Church (1525 Newton St. NW) from 11 am to 5 pm. This event is free and open to the public.
Check out the Facebook invite for more information.
Photo description: POC Zine Project’s east coast intern Cata stands in front of a refrigerator at POCZP HQ in the South Bronx. She is holding POCZP founder Daniela’s latest mini-zine, “Cat Genie.” Cata is making a fierce face,revealing excitement. Behind her on the fridge is a poster from POCZP’s tour last year, as well as a poster from Midwest Zine Fest, where POCZP midwest coordinator Joyce Hatton was in attendance.
Photo by Daniela Capistrano
———-
DO YOU WANT TO SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT?
We are looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.
Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator and internship info” as the subject line.
If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.
SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT
If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.
DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

SPOTTED: POC Zine Project’s East Coast intern Cata in the South Bronx, preparing for D.C. Zine Fest!

Today Cata dropped by POCZP HQ in the South BX to pick up inventory for tabling at this year’s D.C. Zine Fest!

Be sure to support the fest and drop by our table, where Cata will have her own zines, as well as a selection of issues from our zine partners. Get a free poster and button and learn more about POC Zine Project!

D.C. ZINE FEST INFO

The 2012 DC Zinefest will be held on July 28th at St. Stephens Church (1525 Newton St. NW) from 11 am to 5 pm. This event is free and open to the public.

Check out the Facebook invite for more information.

Photo description: POC Zine Project’s east coast intern Cata stands in front of a refrigerator at POCZP HQ in the South Bronx. She is holding POCZP founder Daniela’s latest mini-zine, “Cat Genie.” Cata is making a fierce face,revealing excitement. Behind her on the fridge is a poster from POCZP’s tour last year, as well as a poster from Midwest Zine Fest, where POCZP midwest coordinator Joyce Hatton was in attendance.

Photo by Daniela Capistrano

———-

DO YOU WANT TO SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT?

We are looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.

Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator and internship info” as the subject line.

If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

MEET POCZP’s FIRST EAST COAST INTERN: Cata!
Part of POC Zine Project’s advocacy is empowering new and seasoned zinesters of color in the U.S. (and soon worldwide) to share their stories while supporting other POC. Cata is the first East Coast Intern for POCZP—we are excited to share developments as this part of our experiment in activism and community through materiality unfolds. 
CATA, IN HER OWN WORDS
Cata is a mixed race two-spirit/many spirit writer/yogi/graphic novel reader/zine lover in Washington, D.C. originally from the LBC (Long Beach, CA). She teaches swimming to youngsters, yoga to queers in DC.  When she’s not doing that she is organizing in her community or reading and writing about graphic novels in her blog and tumblr. You can find her here: 
http://agraphiclens.wordpress.com/
http://uchueca.tumblr.com/
She also writes mini plays for youth and adults, but you won’t find those on the internet—you have to come out and experience one for yourself! 
Here’s what Cata had to say about POC Zine Project and why it’s important to her:

POCZP provides a space for zinesters of color to find one another and one another’s media. This exchange is also documentation. Documenting/archiving the history of POC communities is necessary, beautiful and will give fruit to even more magical and creative future generations. This is a community engine! I am honored to offer my contributions here.

Some mediums that have grown her love fierce are: The Queer God by Marcella Althaus-Reid, Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind- by Victoria Law and China Martens, the rhythms of Chavela Vargas, the art of Laya Monarez and the story telling abilities of James Baldwin, Gloria Anzaldúa, Craig Thompson, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjane Satrapi, Little Crow and the elders in her world.
She is constantly working to live whole in a conflicted world and love well the complicated people in the world. Keep on, move strong and hustle till it’s done.
"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing will change if it is not faced" - James Baldwin
If you missed it, here are some poc zine reviews Cata did for POCZP a while back.
———
DO YOU WANT TO SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT?
We are looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.
Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator and internship info” as the subject line.
If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.
SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT
If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.
DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

MEET POCZP’s FIRST EAST COAST INTERN: Cata!

Part of POC Zine Project’s advocacy is empowering new and seasoned zinesters of color in the U.S. (and soon worldwide) to share their stories while supporting other POC. Cata is the first East Coast Intern for POCZP—we are excited to share developments as this part of our experiment in activism and community through materiality unfolds. 

CATA, IN HER OWN WORDS

Cata is a mixed race two-spirit/many spirit writer/yogi/graphic novel reader/zine lover in Washington, D.C. originally from the LBC (Long Beach, CA). She teaches swimming to youngsters, yoga to queers in DC.  When she’s not doing that she is organizing in her community or reading and writing about graphic novels in her blog and tumblr. You can find her here: 

http://agraphiclens.wordpress.com/

http://uchueca.tumblr.com/

She also writes mini plays for youth and adults, but you won’t find those on the internet—you have to come out and experience one for yourself! 

Here’s what Cata had to say about POC Zine Project and why it’s important to her:

POCZP provides a space for zinesters of color to find one another and one another’s media. This exchange is also documentation. Documenting/archiving the history of POC communities is necessary, beautiful and will give fruit to even more magical and creative future generations. This is a community engine! I am honored to offer my contributions here.

Some mediums that have grown her love fierce are: The Queer God by Marcella Althaus-Reid, Don’t Leave Your Friends Behind- by Victoria Law and China Martens, the rhythms of Chavela Vargas, the art of Laya Monarez and the story telling abilities of James Baldwin, Gloria Anzaldúa, Craig Thompson, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjane SatrapiLittle Crow and the elders in her world.

She is constantly working to live whole in a conflicted world and love well the complicated people in the world. Keep on, move strong and hustle till it’s done.

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing will change if it is not faced" - James Baldwin

If you missed it, here are some poc zine reviews Cata did for POCZP a while back.

———

DO YOU WANT TO SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT?

We are looking for representatives in every state, as well as regional  support, as we build toward the National POC Zinester & Ally Conference/Convergence. Ideally you have some experience with organizing events and building community, but experience is not required. All are welcome. Priority will be given to people of color who apply but allies are definitely welcome.

Contact poczineproject@gmail.com for more details with “regional coordinator and internship info” as the subject line.

If you are outside the U.S. and want to be a part of our emerging POCZP Global Ambassadors program, email poczineproject@gmail.com as well to stay informed as opportunities arise.

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh

ZINE SPOTLIGHT: ‘Colita de Rana: Love, Identity & Panochas’ and ‘Watermelon: and other things that make me uncomfortable as a black person’

By Cata, POCZP Intern

"Colita de Rana…Love, Identity & Panochas"  by Tracy García and company (2012)

"Colita de Rana" (2012) by Tracy García and company

This zine opens with a labeled cartoon vagina. Ok, wait. Back story: Colita de Rana = frog tail—it’s from a saying that signifies healing. And: Panochas = Pussy.

The ideas in this zine were loved into pages by anger, angst and ambition. I know this because I saw it’s spirit awake when one of my friends (a co-author) attended a QPOC, Queer People of Color conference back in the day and we took a Panocha workshop. The most powerful experiences, people, books, zines, movies, artwork plant the seeds of future creation. This is the fruit of one of those seeds. In Colita de Rana there are plenty of female anatomy lessons, self-love reminders and a gesture to genetic trauma.

My favorite page is a poem by a lady from Inglewood (my dad’s old stomping grounds). She talks about the domestication of love… “how did love become so scary? was it the moment it got domesticated?” This a powerful question hidden on the third page of the zine.

Seeing this quote through the zine’s title can lead the question: How can we heal from domesticated love? What is that? Certainly it involves government control and production of a certain kind of love.

Page 8 displays a cut-out of a dinosaur called a “clitosaurus” above the prehistoric animal is a quote about the deportation of lesbian undocumented immigrants in the 1990’s. Shit is real. Colita de Rana lets us know.

Disarming dinosaurs still deliver through history. Our history, herstory unknown rather wished erased and gone but still lingers at the bottom of some hearts. This anatomy textbook for the “exploration of love, identity and panochas” is humble but proud. Check yo’ self, she says.

Page 10: heterosexual questionnaire. It’s your turn, straight folks, to have your coming of age story be commodified, died this hue then this shade and retried again and again —tooth combed for possible in-congruencies or untruths.

I love this zine and I hope they keep on the riot. This zine would be a great new friend to all questioning and angry Xican@s. Bring them on.

READ & DOWNLOAD COLITA DE RANA

"Watermelon…and other things that make me uncomfortable as a black person" by Whit Taylor (2011)

Watermelon...and things that make me uncomfortable as a black person (2011) by Whit Taylor

I found this gem at zine fest in dc this past July. Really, nothing can beat a fantastic new zine in the dead of summer heat when you think who is so noble and great that they are out promoting their zine? And then, there is someone.

Besides the fortuitous timing Whit Taylor is a great mini story shower/teller. In her zine she is showing us why certain things don’t roll so smooth for her. She keeps the tone light even during more serious topics. Taylor is able to do this because of a dry and even tone through out the story. Her drawings rock. They remind me of the drawings from Tina’s Mouth, another awesome lady comic.

Watermelon can easily find a place among folks working to deconstruct the stereotypes that can plague different communities. Humanizing an experience is a big part of breaking down stereotypes. When you don’t know someone personally its easier to paint them as something their not.. literally. Tayor does a great job at this. In fact my favorite quote from her is: “I love Alice in Chains, which according to my uncle makes me a teenage white boy. I grew up on my parents’ 1960’s & 70’s soul music but became a victim of 90’s suburban life. So sue me.”

Her honesty is fresh. And yet it leaves me wondering about somethings… like what about her cousins in the frame about New Orleans? What kind of comic/zine would they write? Would they agree with her? These are questions that often come up for myself as I and many other creators find pieces of their autobiographies show up in their work…would my family/community agree? How do they see it?

And this is what’s great about Watermelon. This is how Taylor experienced growing up where she did, being who she is. Really that’s all we got: our experience and it’s one that others are either going to learn from or identify with. And zines really open up a space for folks who usually don’t show up in books or magazines to share their version.

Thanks Ms. Whit Taylor, for sharing yours.

Watermelon is a great zine about one girls’ reflections on the stereotypes that live in her world. Specifically this zine helps to thwart the power these stereotypes might have on others by simply humanizing them and breaking them down. After all it did spark a pretty humorous discussion in my house about our own battles with awkward/embarrassing moments striving to straddle the lines between our cultures and the way others see us in our culture.

It’s a daily deal, as is shown by Whit Taylor in Watermelon.

ORDER WATERMELON HERE.

LEARN MORE ABOUT WHIT TAYLOR whimsicalnobodycomics.com

COMMUNITY: Do you want to review zines for POCZP? Learn more about POCZP internship & volunteer opportunities here. We are still accepting applications. 

If you are interested in POCZP leading a workshop or other event in collaboration with your organization - worldwide - email poczineproject@gmail.com.

ABOUT CATA

Cata is a two-spirit mixed race writer/yogi/graphic novel reader/zine lover in Washington, D.C., originally from the LBC (Long Beach California).

http://agraphiclens.wordpress.com/

http://uchueca.tumblr.com/

Scene Report: Exploring Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPS)

Words and photos by Itoro Udofia, Legacy Series Intern

Rock Paper Scissors Collective Feb 2013

The Rock Paper Scissors Collective (RPS) is located in the heart of downtown Oakland’s cultural district. RPS holds one of the largest zine libraries on the West Coast and, as its mission statement says, it “fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage sustainable practices and alternative models.” RPS uses its space to hold many different aspects of creativity - from zines; to visual art; to performances; to art making workshops and (most importantly) forming collaborative relationships with the community.

During my visit I immediately noticed the friendly and open atmosphere. I was able to connect with Kristi, a collective member at RPS.

EDIT: POCZP intern Itoro Udofia & RPS collective member

Kristi does a lot of community work and coordinates the youth intern program. I observed several young women of color at RPC making zines as part of their internship.

Teen zinester of color at RPS, February 2013

RPS Collective 20

Kristi informed me that RPS is in the middle of cataloging all their zines. This made finding zines by POC during my visit challenging - but not impossible, and we understand their constraints as a grassroots, volunteer entity. Kristi was able to help me locate some zines by POC, which are listed at the bottom of this post.

RPS is an example of what a thriving, deeply grassroots alternative space can look like. This alone made the visit worth it, and I will be back again.

Here are five more things that you should know about Rock Paper Scissors Collective’s community space:

It’s a YOUTH SPACE

Part of what makes RPS so vital to the community is that it creates a safe and inclusive space for youth - specifically, I saw youth of color making zines and coming in for the youth intern programing. RPS is known for its youth programming, and thankfully it’s free or low cost. To see youth coming in on a Thursday afternoon and having a free space to hang out was a sight to behold.

POCZP: How does RPS serve the community?

Kristi: Everyone’s welcome here. It doesn’t matter who you are. We’re not a museum/hands off gallery…We only showcase emerging artists, we do open calls, group shows…everything is free and affordable…Anyone can teach classes. Community collaborations are a major component here. We also run programs at high schools and have a zine fest (East Bay Alternative Express and Zine Expo).

RPS focuses on the need for art within the community. Zines are a facet of that as, it is super alternative and accessible.

BAY AREA COMMUNITY: RPS is looking for volunteers to help catalog the zine library on Sunday. Contact them if you’re interested in helping out! <3

It’s an ACCESSIBLE SPACE

The classes offered at RPS’s are free or low cost. Anyone can teach a class, volunteer, and access the zine library. Its store sells clothing, artwork and zines from local artists. It also gives an open call to artists for exhibits. When inquiring further about zines, the staff member on site spoke of zines being “alternative” and “a way for anyone to get their voice out.” I was struck most by its accessibility in making art that responds to the community’s need and fostering dialogue. That was my biggest take away while being there.

It’s a COLLABORATIVE SPACE

RPS thrives most when it can collaborate and form relationships within the community. They do work with schools, offer free workshops to the public, and work with local artists (just to name a few of their collaborations). Also, they can be seen at the East Bay Alternative Book and Zine Fest where they are showcased every year!

It’s a COMMUNITY SPACE

A community space in the sense that it seeks to be a non-hierarchal, inclusive organization, that turns no one who wants to volunteer or become a member away. From speaking with some of the staff, the energy of wanting to build and form a sustaining community was present. A volunteer came in to paint the steps and there was an overall sense of camaraderie and joy for the work.

It’s a STRUGGLING AND OPEN SPACE

I am always aware of the need for a space where there can be love and struggle. And I would be remiss if I acted like everything is always “a walk in the park” within the movement. Or more importantly, that our spaces of struggle and those deep places where we need to decolonize cannot be openly talked about.

So here it is: RPS is a grassroots collective trying to do a lot with a little. Its zine library needs a lot of love and cataloguing. It also needs to have a space where zines by POC can be easily accessed, located and shared. Within our movement, this is a struggle, and I was happy at the level of openness and receptiveness to having support in that.

If you’re on the West Coast and in the Bay area, walking around in Oakland, check out the Rock Paper Scissors Collective. They are open on Wednesday-Sunday, from 12-7 and located at 2278 Telegraph Avenue. See for yourself and make your own assessment. Also, they are looking for Sunday volunteers to help catalogue with the zine library. If you’re looking for a place to support that is doing much needed community work, consider going to RPS.

In the meantime, here are five zines by or about POC that I would recommend. If you are ever at RPS please check them out.

1. The Combination by Ashley Nelson in collaboration with the Neighborhood Story Project

A moving personal-political soul trip of  one of the oldest housing complexes in New Orleans.

RPS zine library item: The Combination by Ashley Nelson

2. Polarity by Ras Terms

A metaphysical mind trip that explores the duality of spirituality and its metaphysical roots.

Polarity by Ras Terms

Ras Terms was born and raised in Miami. As part of the BSK and FS crews, he was a pivotal figure in the Miami graffiti scene. Terms is a gifted illustrator and painter who has provided many images for the Rastafarian community. Since his arrival in the Bay Area he has established himself as a character graffiti artist and has lent his talents to serve the community.

3. EZLN Communiques: Memory from Below

A zine about the Zapatista movement in Chiapas Mexico. Zapatista thought and knowledge on the struggle against neoliberalism and predatory financial institutions.  Published by Agit Press (formerly known as Porcupine Press)

EZLN Comminques: Memory from Below

4. ML

A zine featuring the distinctive artwork and design from West Coast based visual artist Marcus La Farga. http://marcoslafarga.com

RPS 44

5. Murder Dollhouse by Teppei Ando

Based in the 1920s, a beautifully illustrated comic book thriller about a man who lives in an attic. Published by Volcano Productions. http://murderdollhouse.com

Murder Dollhouse by Teppei Ando

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Rock Paper Scissors Collective

rock paper scissors collective is a volunteer-run organization that fosters creativity and collaboration in order to strengthen local communities and encourage sustainable practices and alternative models. We promote the sharing of ideas, skills, and resources through the celebration of art, craft, education, and performance.”

questions -[at]- rpscollective -[dot]- org
510.238.9171
2278 Telegraph ave., Oakland, CA 94612
Hours: 12 - 7pm, Wednesday - Sunday.
Closed Monday and Tuesday.

ABOUT ITORO UDOFIA

Itoro is the first dedicated intern for the POC Zine Project’s Legacy SeriesItoro’s excited to support POCZP because ”it is a collective that uplifts and cares about what people of color have to say and acknowledges what they have always said.” Learn more about her here.

ABOUT ‘SCENE REPORTS’

Would you like to help us create Scene Reports for every state? Contact us: poczineproject@gmail.com.

If you would like to invite POC Zine Project to your upcoming event, or collaborate on a joint event, let us know!

Editor’s Note: Itoro will be creating weekly Scene Report round ups. Make sure to send us your zine event details so we can share! If it’s not zine-related but possibly of interest to zinesters of color, we will share that as well.

What I learned from … ‘reading all six issues of Shotgun Seamstress’

EDIT: Shotgun Seamstress (all six issues)

By Itoro Udofia, Legacy Series Intern

Itoro recently read all six issues of Shotgun Seamstress in a row. Here is what she learned from them:

It’s hard to speak to everything the Shotgun Seamstress zine collection taught me. It really does give you everything: interviews, stories, being queer, black, punk, female, broke, weird, loving music, knowing your history, loving yourself…it draws from a lot of sources and that right there sums up this history of the punk scene and the Black experience: We pull from everywhere and we survive and thrive too.

That’s my biggest lesson, but here are five more just for good measure:

1. WE need our people

Reading Shotgun Seamstress opened my eyes to our need for each other’s affirmation, community and understanding while trying to do the impossible: live in the margins. It’s important that when we find each other, we do what we can to build community and lift each other up, usually we’re the only black face in the white crowd. Many of the punk rockers, artists, drag queens, musicians, made that clear in Shotgun Seamstress. From how white the punk scene is, specifically, and how black folks are constantly pushed to the margins, it’s important for us, as Audre Lorde so eloquently puts it, “to practice how to be tender with one another.” I was shocked and awed to see the type of love and gentleness Shotgun Seamstress had to the multiplicity of voices it brought in.

2. Our struggles affirm one another

THE WOMEN OF COLOR IN PUNK CONFERENCE organized by Osa Atoe was talked about in the zine series as an affirming experience for women of color and a place of knowledge on a personal, political and historical level. It gave a space to share and think about how women of color could carry the torch forward and make life easier for young punksters participating in zine culture.

3. Don’t you yuck my yum

Stop commodifying my shit and learn your gotdamn herstory mofo!—Who are you to tell me what punk is? What a black punk is? What I should look like or sound like? Who are you to buy my shit, sell my shit, exploit my shit, silence my shit and then tell ME what to do!

One of the points that Shotgun Seamstress addresses is the African roots of punk and the importance of knowing that we stand in a long line of black peoples who made most of the music that we hear what it is. Let’s remember where things come from:

“Yes, rock and roll and almost the entire American pop pantheon comes from the blood sweat, and tears of sharecroppers, slaves and disenfranchised people.” — Chris Sutton

4. DO NOT leave any of yourself out of the equation

It all counts and all parts of ourselves need to be in our analysis and knowledge of our conditions. The fearlessness that the many voices had in Shotgun Seamstress in reclaiming the weird, the awkward, the queer, the difference in ourselves has to be a part of our liberation processes. Especially when looking at how to address our experiences, the personal is political and we should always question a scene-movement that expects us to leave an aspect of ourselves (that they don’t want to swallow) at the door. 

5. Be an Ally not a Disappointment

Not gonna spend too much energy on this point, but a recurring issue that was highlighted throughout Shotgun Seamstress was the need for more allies, specifically white allies to “not talk that talk, if you ain’t gonna walk that.” Disappointment when we fail each other in this way does not even begin to cover it.

Some more key truths that I took away can be found below.

Life calls for resourcefulness, especially when you are on the margins…  

Black punksters might be “obscure” but they have always been here…

Be courageous enough to break the silence…

If you don’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?…

Rock on, stay strong… 

What were your take aways? What resonated most with you?

Join the conversation and if you haven’t read the Shotgun Seamstress zine collection, please do and add your thoughts.

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ABOUT SHOTGUN SEAMSTRESS

Created by POCZP member Osa Atoe well before POCZP existed, Shotgun Seamstress was a black punk fanzine that also focuses on black queer & feminist artists and musicians.

The final issue of Shotgun Seamstress zine was completed in the fall of 2011.  Now, all six issues are compiled in a book that was published by Mend My Dress Press.

The first issue of Shotgun Seamstress came out in August of 2006. Read issue #1 for free here:

ABOUT ITORO UDOFIA

Itoro is the first dedicated intern for the POC Zine Project’s Legacy SeriesItoro’s excited to support POCZP because ”it is a collective that uplifts and cares about what people of color have to say and acknowledges what they have always said.” Learn more about her here.

Editor’s Note: 

'What I learned from …' is a new feature that you will find on POCZP’s digital platforms. POCZP will share zine analysis by and for POC to affirm our experiences and interpretation of independently created POC publications. We are starting a dialog.

POCZP Interns can contribute (learn about our internship program here) to this ongoing feature, as well as ANYONE who is interested in reading POC zines and reflecting on them. The only requirement is that you must identify as a person of color.

Email poczineproject@gmail.com if you would like to write the next 'What I learned from …' edition. Put “What I learned from …’ ” in the subject line and include the following in the email body:

1) The zine, or series of zines, you want to read and review

2) Indicate if you already have access to the zine/s or need assistance accessing them

3) Include links to three writing samples, or submit three new writing samples (zine reviews or book reviews)

That’s it! <3

Meet POCZP’s Chief Fanalyst for the Legacy Series: Julia B. aka Ju!

Julia B., or Ju: First Official Fanalyst to participate in the POC Zine Project's Legacy Series

NAME: Julia B. (also goes by Ju)

ROLE: Chief Fanalyst for POC Zine Project’s Legacy Series

REGION: East Coast (Brooklyn), USA

COMMUNITY: Ju has been a POCZP member since the beginning. You’ll be seeing more of their contributions manifest on this Tumblr and in other digital and physical spaces very soon …. <3

IN JU’S OWN WORDS

Hi there. I’m Julia B., or Ju (if we’re being informal, which suits me fine), and I’m the first Official (and Chief) Fanalyst to participate in the POC Zine Project’s Legacy Series!

I’m very excited to be part of this series, and I’m looking forward to sharing more about the first Legacy Series selection: Fire!!: A Quarterly Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists, published in 1926. I should probably begin by explaining what my role will be.

fan: As in, amateur. I’m not a professional historian, just an enthusiastic history lover with library access. Whether it’s sci-fi fans swapping self-written stories through the mail, or specialized distros offering up all manner of self-published work at concerts, zine readings and the like, zine culture has consistently been defined by its place outside of the traditional publishing world. Keeping that in mind, the folks writing this series are taking part because we genuinely love the works we’re talking about, and want to share those works as laypeople in an accessible way.

analyst: I’ll be doing a close read and giving background details about the magazine, page by page. Sort of like “Pop-Up Video” but in written form.

Graphic for Ju's Chief Fanalyst bio In lieu of elaborate on-location choreography, I’ll be taking you further into not only the text of Fire!!, but also the world in which it was published—from the author’s contemporaries to the neighborhood in which their office was situated, and more. Ideally, by the time you’re done checking out what I’ve got for you, you’ll have music to listen to, visual artists to check out, books you’ll want to look for. Like I said, I’m enthusiastic about history, and my goal is to make sure that you’re just as thrilled about learning more as I was doing the research.

So why exactly am I so thrilled to be working on Fire!! in particular? Well, as a literature fan, I’ve loved Zora Neale Hurston’s, Langston Hughes’, and Countee Cullen’s writing for years. For many, those names might be the most familiar in the list of contributors to Fire!!, and I’m sure a lot of you out there are already fans of their work. But what of the other contributors alluded to in the “younger negro artists” of the magazine’s title? I see this as a chance for those who are more familiar with the writers in this publication to learn more about the visual artists who contributed, and vice versa, while I take a look at the perspectives that link them all together.

I’m also excited because Fire!! was controversial in its time. The contributors were not interested in perpetuating the politics of respectability. They did not create the magazine to keep in step with the artists of generations before them. In short, they were uncomfortable because they refused to conform to more (Black middle-class) palatable sensibilities.

I mean, check out some of the stuff people were saying when this little magazine out of Harlem made its way into print:

Rean Graves of the Baltimore Afro-American [newspaper] was incensed by the magazine and wrote in his review, “I have just tossed the first issue of Fire!! into the fire.” Benjamin Brawley went so far as to say that if the U.S. Post Office found out about Thurman’s “Cordelia the Crude,” the magazine might be barred from the mail.[1]

Pretty strong reactions to a fledgling publication! The contributors wrote about touchy subjects such as colorism among Black Americans and prostitution. They made deliberate use of Black American vernacular, in an effort to make the voices of their works ring true to the people they represented. And pissed off a bunch of uptight people in the process, even though only one issue of Fire!! was ever published. It’s easy to think of “cutting edge” in the present tense, but in exploring the magazine, we get the chance to check out what the Black American nonconformists of 1926 had to say, and what value those messages hold for us in the present day.

Anyway, enough out of me! I’m looking forward to talking with you further… hopefully we can start a cool conversation (or several) about this classic work. Stay tuned!

[1]: Patton, Venetria K., and Maureen Honey. “The Harlem Renaissance.” Oxford African American Studies Center: Guest Scholars. Oxford University Press. Web. <http://www.oxfordaasc.com/public/featureded/guest_5.jsp>

DO YOU WANT TO BE A FANALYST FOR THE LEGACY SERIES?

The only criteria is that you have to be a person of color! Submit here and tell us a little about yourself. Please include links to some writing samples. Good luck!

White allies: There are other ways for you to support the Legacy Series. Please email daniela@dcapmedia.com for details.

ABOUT THE LEGACY SERIES

Kicking off with FIRE!!, POC Zine Project will make zines by people of color created from the 1700s-1990s available to read and share.

Every Friday (Editor’s note: date pushed to February), you will find a legacy zine by a person of color on poczineproject.tumblr.com. We will share more details in 2013.

WHY WE ARE FOCUSING ON LEGACY ZINES

People of color in the U.S. have produced independent publications (zines) for decades. Many of these zines were political in nature, creating cracks in the lens of white supremacy that shaped (and continues to inform) popular culture and legislation.

These zines were new maps to our liberation, countering the negative propaganda of what people of color looked like, thought and were capable of achieving.

We want the world to know about these legacy zines, so we are going to archive and share them to the best of our ability.

We look forward to partnering with distros, academic spaces, libraries, anti-authoritarian collectives, literary journals, bloggers and more to share the Legacy Series.

“NEW” ZINESTERS: We will still share information about new and upcoming zines by people of color :) Please continue to submit your zines to the archive.

ABOUT THE RACE RIOT! TOUR

POC Zine Project held its first Race Riot! Tour in 2012, producing 20 events in 14 cities, which included speaking engagements at six universities. Click here to view photos from the POC Zine Project: 2012 Race Riot! Tour tour finale at Death By Audio in Brooklyn and access all the tour stop recaps.

We will be taking the Race Riot! Tour through 14 more cities in 2013. Stay tuned!

SUPPORT POC ZINE PROJECT

If everyone in our community gave $1, we would more than meet our fundraising goal for 2013. If you have it to spare, we appreciate your support. All funds go to our 2013 tour, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

DONATE link via PayPal: http://bit.ly/SHdmyh