Posts tagged media literacy


"She’s strong, she’s foxy, and she uses the power of words to combat the evil Dominant Narrative. And she rocks a hot afro."


Meet Helvetika Bold, a new kind of superhero. The Opportunity Agenda worked with New York Times bestselling author and artist Gan Golan and Betsy Richards, Senior Creative Fellow at The Opportunity Agenda, to create Helvetika Bold, who represents an alignment between a traditional advocacy approach and creative social justice strategies.  

"Helvetika’s story begins at a time where people’s minds are blocked by Mindset, a powerful and shadowy figure who delights in closing and locking people’s minds. 

His weapon:  the dominant narrative, which focuses people away from the true causes of inequality by laying blame on the people most affected by it.  

We first meet Helvetika’s alter ego, Ariel Black, a passionate and hardworking social justice advocate.  Ariel’s work is continually thwarted by the dominant narrative - and the media’s complicity in advancing it. 

Her frustration leads her on an adventure that culminates with the unleashing of Helvetika Bold, a new kind of super hero who battles Mindset and the dominant narrative with stories of inspiration and hope.”

The Opportunity Agenda states that Helvetika actually resides in everyone who wants progressive change.  She stands for each of our powers to inspire hope, amplify voices, and uphold the values we all share and cherish.


You can download it here, thanks to The Opportunity Agenda, or you can flip through it now via POCZP founder Daniela’s ISSUU page:

Go behind the scenes on AFROPUNK.COM - our point of awareness for this comic.


Through active partnerships, The Opportunity Agenda synthesizes and translates research on barriers to opportunity and corresponding solutions; uses communications and media to understand and influence public opinion; and identifies and advocates for policies that improve people’s lives. To achieve their mission, they focus on racial equity, immigration, economic opportunity, reproductive health and rights, and African-American men and boys.

"We have it in our power as a nation to expand opportunity for all.  Doing so requires working to turn our beliefs and aspirations into public support for fundamental change. Read our newest brochure to learn more about us.”

The Opportunity Agenda is a project of Tides Center



POCZP hopes you had a great summer! We’ve been working on ways to remain sustainable in the long term while individually practicing #selfcare. In the meantime, you can support the cause by sending us a gift of any amount. All funds go to ongoing advocacy costs, the Legacy Series and the poverty zine series.

If everyone in our community gave $10, we would more than meet our fundraising goals for 2015.

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

This Zine Was Made Entirely On A Mobile Phone

From POCZP founder Daniela:

What if—while processing an idea or enjoying an event—you could fairly quickly & easily make a zine about what you were experiencing on your phone and then share it that same day?

This zine experiment was inspired by real-time news gathering practices and young people. It didn’t work out exactly as I had planned, but it was exciting to explore different possibilities. In part one of this series, I’ll share one of three methods I uncovered: Here is the experimental perzine I made using my mobile device called “Cat Genie Vol. 2: Chola Fruitz“:

[DESCRIPTION: Chola Fruitz is an experimental perzine and a dream-like reflection on group travel, subverting Chola identity tropes, Queer Chicana identity and the evolution of self. Daniela made it in an hour while sitting on her couch, using images she edited within her phone using two mobile apps]

Learn how to make your own zine using just your phone on Daniela’s Lair, plus access her thoughts on the pros and cons to mobile device zine-making workflows. 

Excerpt from the full guide:

3) The Lazy Artist Factor: Part of the fun and empowerment of making a zine by hand (and offline) is that you can explore your creativity and develop your design skills. Experimenting with layouts, collages and other techniques as part of a print zine workflow can be a really satisfying experience. You miss out on that experience by just using the provided templates in apps, to a significant degree. If everyone used the same zine-making templates, all zines would start to look the same, which would be a bummer.



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

See POCZP member Cristy C. Road on tour with Sister Spit: The Next Generation!

Go support Cristy C. Road (and say hi! - tell her POCZP sent ya! xo) as she continues her queer literary and artistic journey with Sister Spit: The Next Generation!

This year’s tour features Michelle Tea, Ali Liebegott, Dave End, Texta Queen, Daniel Levesque, and of course CCR!

As Cristy aptly put it:

Too many queer boners in one sentence? Its okay, the universe prefers it that way. Come out and listen to us read and perform from our latest projects, laugh a little, rage a little, gaze into your lovers eyes and cry a little……

Tour dates are listed below (CHECK THIS CALENDAR FOR MOST UP TO DATE LISTINGS & VENUES). More info can be found at the RADAR PRODUCTIONS Website.

March 31, 2013  2 PM

San Francisco Public Library

Koret Auditorium

100 Larkin St. San Francisco, CA 94102

April 1, 2013 7:30pm

Rock, Paper, Scissors Collective

2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California 94612

April 2, 2013 7PM

Pasadena City College/Creveling Lounge

1570 East Colorado Boulevard  Pasadena, CA 91106 

April 3, 2013 2PM Panel/ 7PM Show

UC Riverside

900 University Avenue  Riverside, CA 92521

April 6, 2013  8 PM

Richard Hugo House

1634 11th Avenue  Seattle, WA 98122

April 7, 2013 8PM

The Intercultural Firehouse at IFCC

Portland, OR

April 8, 2013 4:30pm

University of Oregon

585 E. 13th Avenue Eugene, OR 97403-1279

April 9, 2013 7pm

The Voice Shop

1296 N Wishon, Fresno, California 93728 

April 10, 2013 7PM

Otis College of Art and Design

9045 Lincoln Boulevard  Los Angeles, CA 90045

April 11, 2013 7:30PM

REDCAT Theater

631 West 2nd Street  Los Angeles, CA 90012

April 12, 2013 7:30PM


624 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, California 90802

April 14, 2013 3PM

New Museum

235 Bowery, New York, New York 10002

April 15, 2013 7:30PM

Pride Center

332 Hudson Avenue, Albany, New York 12210

April 16, 2013 7PM

Gladstone Hotel

214 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario

April 18, 2013 7pm

Ann Arbor

April 19, 2013 6PM

A Room of One’s Own Bookstore

315 W. Gorham St., Madison, Wisconsin 53703

April 20, 2013 9:30PM

Part of the CIMMFEST

The Hideout

Chicago, Illinois

April 21, 2013 7PM

Rachel’s Cafe

300 E Third St, Bloomington, Indiana 47402

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.



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:


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

POC Zine Project and Tonya L. Jones respond to Portland State Vanguard's article on zines


On November 12, 2012, Portland State University student Robin Crowell published an interview with Tonya L. Jones on PSU University’s Vanguard site. Tonya, the founder of the Women of Color Zine Workshops (and WOC Zine Symposium) based in Portland, OR, shared her thoughts with Robin on how “zines give voice to social justice” (what was used in the original headline).

POC Zine Project read the interview and — having a relationship with Tonya — suspected that some details didn’t make the edit. Also, Tonya and another person were misquoted.


We definitely don’t want to discourage campus publications from covering poc zine-related topics. We are not about bashing student journalists. People make mistakes.

However, it is important to us that editors make it a priority to (when possible) include comments by interviewees addressing their experiences with racial inequality.

It’s also equally important for writers to have the ability to assess when edits to their work compromise the piece in ways that spread misinformation, or prevent important information from being shared.

We don’t know who made the final call on what did or didn’t get published, but we do want to raise awareness about two very important errors:

EXAMPLE #1: Tonya emailed this to Robin as part of her email interview, but it didn’t make it in the piece:

Some of us use our zines to write about our experiences as WOC and to deconstruct oppression in their lives. But, just like other zinesters, we like to talk about our different interests (e.g. music, knitting, cooking, traveling, pets etc.). We are no different (as artists) in many ways, yet we do offer unique history/stories to share as WOC.

Anyone involved in zine culture should have work by WOC zinesters in their collection.

Why were these two paragraphs cut? This information - in our opinion - seems like the heart and soul of Tonya’s motivations, and these facts should have been included in the article.

EXAMPLE #2: It’s important to be correct about things such as accurately publishing quotes. This is how history is unintentionally revised and people are misrepresented.

Sugene Yang-Kelly was misquoted. Here is the excerpt from the piece: 

Sugene Yang-Kelly views making a zine as a “self-indulgent” activity.

“It’s just a fun, personal outlet, and I’m not trying to reach a wide audience or impress anyone or change people’s minds,” Yang-Kelly said. “It’s a bonus if other people want to read my zines and have a conversation about it.”

Here is what she really meant, directly from Sugene:

I did not say that I thought zines were a self-indulgent activity, I said that it was self indulgent for ME. And I did not write an article that got censored, it was a different article that got censored. And we did NOT end up publishing and distributing the article ourselves. And that is not when I started a zine either. I’m glad that the group got some press, but I’m PISSED OFF that things that I said were either taken out of context or were factually untrue.

Considering this is a student publication (meaning more flexibility about things like word count and time to fact check), the article would have been more accurate and informative if some of Tonya’s comments had not been omitted. We also hope that incorrect quotes are addressed asap.

We thank Robin for interviewing Tonya for Vanguard and hope that Robin continues to follow the Women of Color Zine Workshops’ growth in Portland and beyond.


Sometimes news articles and interviews don’t include everything you need to know. We followed up with Tonya Jones to get additional context to share with our community.

Tonya’s comment prefacing her statements that she emailed to POC Zine Project:

I am disappointed that the article didn’t mention the fact that POC/WOC HAD to start alternative forms of media because of white oppression/racism. It wasn’t just a fun hobby!

I did talk about Ida B. Wells and her work with a black newspaper that wrote articles about the lynching of black people. I also talked specifically about the work of the WOC group and our zine collective, which is all about our perspective as living as WOC in Portland which is almost 80% white, and how we have to navigate racisms in a state that has a history of oppression against POC.

These are the answers Tonya submitted to Robin via email, without any editing:

2) Define a zine.

There is a long history on what zines are about, where they started etc. In order to encourage WOC to get involved in making zines/DIY culture, I tend to use the words of a Portland activist I admire (PSU Black Studies professor Walidah Imarisha).

She was once a guest speaker at one of our workshops. She noted that as POC (people of color) we have always had to use alternative forms of media to get our voices heard. Creating our own newspapers, books, journals, etc., self-publishing is a part of our history as WOC. We look at women like Ida B. Wells, who was a journalist and wrote for a black newspaper to speak out about the racist injustices against Black people (lynching).

These were atrocities that were not acknowledged by the mainstream media. POC/WOC have had to write our own stories otherwise we were/are invisible in mainstream society. That is how I define zines, an opportunity for us to continue the legacy of telling truth of our experiences.

3) What made you decide to dedicate a workshop to women of color?

After attending the Portland Zine Symposium (years ago), I noticed a lack of diversity. I really wanted to connect with other WOC zinesters. The following year, I lead a workshop at the PZS called “Women of Color: Writing and Activism.” I received such good feedback from the attendees. I decided to host workshops monthly. It’s how the workshops started and the rest is history!

4) What should people know about zines by and about women of color?

I would like people to know that WOC have always been part of the zine community. You have wonderful long time WOC zinesters like Osa (creator of Shotgun Seamstress a zine dedicated to AfroPunk/Black people in punk), Daniela Capistrano (the founder of the POC Zine Project in NYC and creator of the zine Bad Mexican), Sugene Yang-Kelly (creator of All This is Mine zine), and more that have been out there being creative, self-publishing, lecturing, attending symposiums, etc.

Some of us use our zines to write about our experiences as WOC and to deconstruct oppression in their lives. But, just like other zinesters, we like to talk about our different interests (e.g. music, knitting, cooking, traveling, pets etc.). We are no different (as artists) in many ways, yet we do offer unique history/stories to share as WOC.

Anyone involved in zine culture should have work by WOC zinesters in their collection.

5) What does creating a zine mean to you?

It’s an outlet to purge my feelings about the racism I deal with as a Black woman. I love the freedom of creating a zine. It’s my own project I can return to when I feel up to it or when there are racist issues affecting Black women and I feel I should speak out about it

6) What is the title of your zine and could you tell me a little more about it?

My personal zine is called “See Me: Issues that Affect Our Lives, Acts of Resistance against Oppression and Black Feminist Thought.” I focus on issues of Black women (e.g. racist images in Hollywood, Black motherhood, etc.) with a feminist twist.

The WOC Zine group makes a zine collective called “Women of Color: How to Live in the City of Roses and Avoid the Pricks.” We discuss navigating Portland as WOC (e.g. racism, gentrification, resisting mainstream beauty standards, the arts, etc.).

We are currently working on our 4th issue. It will focus on POC and Housing in Portland (e.g. the displacement of the Black community from Alberta & Mississippi neighborhoods, etc.)

Any further comments?

Last summer (2011), the WOC Zine group applied for a project grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Our project proposal was to host a Women of Color Zine Symposium. We won the grant and hosted Portland’s first WOC Zine Symposium. It was in June of this year. The purpose of the event was to provide a space for WOC artists in Portland to come together while sharing their creative work with the larger community.

The day consisted of tabling of zines, raffle prizes, an open mic (with a reading from our WOC Zinester Scholarship winner writer/poet, Jamondria Harris), a workshop lead by long-time WOC zinester LaMesha Melton (She is the creator of Coco/Puss which a perzine about black women and sexuality discusses being a single mom, sex, racism, feminism, birth control, sex workers, and other topics). and the day ended with a performance with local all-female/multicultural hip-hop group, RoseBent.

We had a great time and looking at ways to host this event again next year. Keep a look out for it!


IMPORTANT: We are NOT directing these comments at Robin or implying we know anything about her motivations or freedoms re: her final piece.

Here are our top three points:

1. Sometimes white privilege plays a role in how journalists report on a story. Since racial inequality isn’t typically a white person’s experience, it may not feel necessary to include details directly speaking to racial inequality.

It’s important to be mindful of how your privilege affects what you write about and how you write about it.

2. Interviews via email usually eliminate the possibility of misquoting someone, but sometimes it doesn’t (although we prefer doing interviews in person, with a recorder!). It is up to the journalist to follow up with their subjects to clarify any questions or concerns.

Make sure that the quotes you plan to include are accurate. Take the time to check in advance.

3. It’s generally a good idea for a journalist to email the link for the article (once it’s live) to their interview subjects and inform them that if anything looks fishy, to let them know immediately so they can address it. This takes two seconds. Unfortunately, not everyone does this.

Some journalists excuse themselves by saying that they don’t want their work compromised, but to that we say “BUUUUUULL SHIT!” Making sure that your details are factually correct should not compromise your work.

Here are some additional thoughts, providing by the Women of Color Zine Workshop in their original event listing on Facebook for the 2012 Symposium, that we think are relevant to this dialogue: 

The image people have of Portland is mainly based on the white majority who live here - 76.1 % of the population, according to the 2011 U.S. Census. But the other 23.9%, the other Portland, they have a voice too. And the Women of Color Zine (WOC) group is one of the ways …that other voice can be heard.