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.
ABOUT SHOTGUN SEAMSTRESS
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 Series. Itoro’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.
'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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Ten days have passed since our Race Riot! tour finale event at Death By Audio in Brooklyn. Our last tour date had the most amount of people in attendance, and zine partner sales were higher than any other stop on our tour, so thank you NYC for your love and support!
We’re going to do a zine and art book about our first tour experience, (details coming soon) so for now, here are some beautiful moments from October 7, 2012:
Photo by Mimi Thi Nguyen
- POC Zine Project’s Race Riot! Tour attendees at Death by Audio on Oct 7, 2012
- Mimi Thi Nguyen reads at Death By Audio
- Leshaun lovell (l) Share roman (m) and Jade Fair (r) at POCZP’s Race Riot! Tour stop at Death By Audio on Oct 7
- DJ Shomi Noise holding her zines Building Up Emotional Muscles #1-3 at Death By Audio on Oct 7
- Shady Hawkins perform at Death By Audio
Photo by Mary Christmas
- Joan Chen came all the way from the west coast and brought Bay Area poc zines for the archive! <3 Thanks, Joan!
- Back of crowd during Anna Vo’s reading at Death By Audio
Photo by Mimi Thi Nguyen
- Osa Atoe, creator of the Shotgun Seamstress series (out now on Mend My Dress Press), reads at Death By Audio
- Aye Nako performs at Death By Audio
Photo by thetenderestheart
- Part of POC Zine Project’s Race Riot! Mall at Death By Audio
Photo by Mimi Thi Nguyen
MEMORIES FROM THE EVENT
The venue was PACKED and at a certain point (about halfway through the show) we had to ask everyone who was sitting to stand up so that a horde of folks waiting in line outside could get in. Like all of our other tour stops, the door cover was sliding scale/pay what you can with no one turned away for lack of funds.
Although DBA had a cash bar, people kept it together and the energy overall was amazing. Around 9pm, after I had made sure the projector was working, we kicked things off.
Jamie Varriale Vélez, our local guest reader, did an amazing job and was super brave (she read first). Race Riot! crew Osa, Anna Vo, Mimi Thi Nguyen and Cristy C. Road followed. I played MC, worked at the Race Riot! mall, dealt with problems as they came up and took some of the photos you see in this post.
BIG THANKS to Cristy C. Road for coordinating our finale event logistics, Death By Audio for allowing us to use the venue and all the DBA folks who handled sound and door needs.
I’m probably forgetting to thank a million people but we’ll get it together for the zine and art book that we’re doing for the tour.
We’ll have more candids and quotes from tour members and attendees in the weeks to come.
Thanks again, you reading this right now, for your interest and support. This is an experiment in community and activism through materiality. If you took any photos or video of this event and are willing to share so we can add it to our documentation, please email email@example.com. <3
If you’re interested in developing your digital media and community organizing skills by interning for POC Zine Project, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can provide college credit or, if you’re not enrolled at an accredited university, professional mentorship. Meatspace internships will take place at DCAP Media HQ in NYC. Telecommuting/remote production internships are also available.
1) We’re doing a zine about this tour, so if you were part of any of the events, let us know if you want to contribute by emailing email@example.com.
2) We’re doing a national conference in 2014.
3) We’re doing a west coast tour in 2013.
4) If you want to be a part of any upcoming POCZP events, let us know.
5) We love you.
ABOUT POC ZINE PROJECT
POC Zine Project’s mission is to make zines by people of color easy to find, distribute and share - community and activism through materiality. We took the Race Riot! tour through 12 cities from Sept 24 - Oct 7, 2012.
All tour dates: http://bit.ly/PeEgaR
TOUR RECAPS ARCHIVE
Oct 7: Death By Audio - Brooklyn
Oct 3: Skylab - Columbus
Oct 2: Rachael’s Cafe - Bloomington
Sept 30: multikulti - Chicago
Sept 28: The Trumbullplex - Detroit
Sept 26: Mr. Roboto Project - Pittsburgh
Sept 25: The Wooden Shoe - Philly
Sept 24: 538 Johnson - NYC - Brooklyn
All photos should be credited to Daniela Capistrano/POC Zine Project unless otherwise noted. Please be sure to credit and link to poczineproject.tumblr.com if you reblog individual pics. Tx! <3
Osa Atoe is a musician who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is the child of Nigerian immigrants, who grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC and then lived on the West Coast for seven years. She feels that her involvement with punk is unlikely and often wonders how she ended up here. Osa likes to play music more than anything else in the world, which is why her zine, “Shotgun Seamstress,” is mostly a music fanzine. She began that zine, a DIY publication by and for black punk rockers, when she lived in Portland, Oregon in 2006.
(Read issues of Shotgun Seamstress for free online.)
You can purchase all of Shotgun Seamstress as one very rad anthology from Mend My Dress Press later this month. (Osa will be selling the book during the tour as well!).
Osa is very proud to be able to say that she was in a band called New Bloods that put out a record on Kill Rock Stars before the label went completely to shit. While being in that band, Osa discovered that she loves to book punk shows and decided to begin booking all-ages DIY shows for girl bands & other folks, too, under the name No More Fiction when she moved to New Orleans in 2009. That initial love has turned into a more complicated, love/hate relationship since then, however Osa was still very much excited to help book the DIY portion of the POC Zine Project RACE RIOT! Tour.
Here is what Osa had to say about joining the POC Zine Project tour:
Why I want to be a part of the his ridiculously rad tour: Because I want to hang out with Mimi, Mariam, Daniela, Cristy and Anna every single day, every hour, every minute for two weeks straight. I need my POC punk time because I don’t get enough of it in my day to day life. Because I love to tour. I think that being able to tour & travel has helped me deal with how white punk can be because I’ve been able to make connections with black & brown punks all over the country and even internationally. I love to be on the road, I love to travel and I especially love to travel with a purpose, and what better purpose than this?
Community: Osa will be participating in ALL our tour dates: Sept 24 - Oct 7. Please help her offset the cost of participating in this tour by purchasing her zines, music and spreading the word about the tour.
MORE RACE RIOT! TOUR MEMBER BIOS
More bios coming soon!