BEATS Issue 12 2018

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Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations


Welcome to Issue 12! We are so excited to share the talents of our small editorial team with you this Summer! This issue has a wide range of topics and storytelling styles without any focused themes. Identity, community, sense of belonging, education and feminism are the main issues discussed while we start the issue with Summer’s major day for our communities: World Refugee Day. I would like to thank Jennifer Sarkar for her on-going support in this process. And many thanks to external contributions by Aslam Bulbulia and Narges Samimi. Additionally, we would like to thank our funders at Telus Community Grants for helping BEATS Magazines’s continuation. We hope that you enjoy this new journey of BEATS! Hoping to see you again in the Fall!


LEAVE OUT VIOLENCE BC LOVE is a youth-driven media arts-based non-profit organization that facilitates violence prevention and intervention programming to youth who face multiple barriers. LOVE youth use media arts to document their experiences, share their views of the world, and build leadership skills to break the cycle of violence in their lives and communities. To learn more about LOVE BC’s work please go to: or email us at:

editorial t e a m Ayan Ismail

My name is Ayan which means ‘LUCK’ in Somali! I enjoy photography, writing, biking, and I play basketball too. I identify as an African, Muslim, Woman who is unapologetic of my identity and existence. I go to SFU and I’m loving it so far. I hope you have a blissful read, cheers!

Aritro Mukhopadhyay

I’m Aritro, a fruity and flamboyant second year design student (SIAT, SFU). Apart from being an aspiring artist and activist, I adore reading, writing and cuddling cats.

Jackie Obungah

I am Jackie Obungah. I am originally from Kenya, I have been living and studying in Vancouver for the past 2 years. I am passionate about activism, literature, growing terrariums! Everything and anything that enriches my soul. I am also a tropical child, so I love the sun and Mangoes!



8 feminism BROWN SPEAK





A beautiful fantasy + dead tongues


W o r l d R e f u g e e


Photo and Words by: Ayan Ismail

June20 This is a day celebrated to commemorate the boldness, fearlessness, and endurance of millions of people who fled their homes in the past years because of war and persecution, economic, environmental, among others. According to the United Nations, there are currently over 60 Million displaced people; among them are 21.5 Million refugees. This is an alarming number and is recorded to be the largest mass displacement since World War 2. Although countries in the global North try to do their part in welcoming refugees to their countries through resettlement, it is important to note that most of the world’s displaced people are hosted in countries in the global South. For example, Kenya hosts two of the largest refugee camps in the world; Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camps. Growing up in Kakuma Refugee Camp, World Refugee Day was one of the days I looked forward to, with all the celebration and enthusiasm that came with it. It was always a day when people came out in vast numbers to celebrate their existence, perseverance, and resistance. This always gave me joy given all the negative things about refugees that I saw on TV and social media. When journalists would come from western countries and write stories about how people lived from their perspective. See, the stories were always sad and negative because they mostly focused on that ignoring all the positivity we had around us. This led me to join a local magazine called ‘The Refugee Magazine’ which was written by refugee youth. As a form of resistance, we ensured that voices of the local refugee population were

heard, and we presented people’s stories from their perspective and their lived experiences. Refugee populations often live under harsh conditions with limited access to basic needs such as food, water, healthcare, and even education. As such, it is important that this day is set aside to celebrate the dedication, courage, and bravery of refugees around the world. Moreover, it is significant that we use this day not only to celebrate and honor but also to shed light on issues that affect refugees here in Canada and around the globe. Let us use this day to create awareness regarding issues affecting refugees, how to better support them, how to be empathetic rather than sympathetic, and how not to tokenize them but instead genuinely support them. Since this is a topic that I am very much interested in and dedicated to, I am doing a photo series project that focuses on the lives of refugees in Canada and across the world. It is called, ‘Get to Know Refugees, People Like You and Me’ and is focused on creating awareness of refugee populations, showing the positivity in their lives that is often ignored by mainstream media, and to show that refugees are humans and normal people just like anyone else. It is also a project that will focus on testing Canadians on just how much they know refugees; whether it is families that they helped sponsored, their neighbors, or even friends and schoolmates.



Painting by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay 8 BEATS MAGAZINE ISSUE 12 2018

Feminism in India By: Aritro Mukhopadhyay

“If we are aren’t advocating for those whose reality isn’t the same as ours, we are unequivocally part of the problem.” Feminism is present because equality is absent. The world is not a place where men and women have the same opportunities, hence speaking immensely for its immediate understanding. The word as per dictionary advocates for women’s rights on the basis of equality of senses. If men and women were to be at par, we wouldn’t be having this discussion, but alas even though this is the 21st century, we apparently are still savages. The degree of political economical and social equality of the sexes changes from continent to continent and civilisation to civilisation. When talking about the Indian sub continent, the Vedic era saw equality of men and women in all imaginable fields. Then with the passage of time and the demonic domino effect of invading cultures, limited her existence to household only. Today, feminism in India is a different story. Still budding and in influx of emancipation. It is distinct in urban, sub urban, rural, privileged or under privileged societies. Although I personally feel that a good crop of men and women misunderstand the topic. Firstly it isn’t inclusive of all women and their feminine experiences. The most talked about part in media are concerns of women in the upper middle class and in the higher strata of the society

rather than recollection of the experiences of the women en masse. As we get closer and closer to the understanding of feminism, we should realise that the fight isn’t against patriarchy, its against the system of oppression or even disproportionate privilege. It’s about dismantling the kyriarchy. The system that keeps shameless oppression in place. So if we are aren’t advocating for those whose reality isn’t the same as ours, we are unequivocally part of the problem. It’s about starting conversation that makes us uncomfortable. It’s about minimising our role as oppressors and educating those who dwell in apathy and ignorance. Speaking of which, patriarchy isn’t inherently evil the system of oppression is. Patriarchy doesn’t have to mean male dominance, we can establish a place where humans can lead together. We don’t even have to call it patriarchy because at the end of the day it’s just a word, the purity of the system is higher than petty definitions. I am not free when every single woman is in bond, even if her shackles are very different from my own.



INTERSECTIONALITY Photo and Words by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay

One size fits all definitely sounds like a sizeable capitalist trap that works for a whole lot of people, but not so much when it comes to feminism and representation. To set it right from the beginning, when we are fighting for rights and representation, succumbing to convenience and

vivid resistance from them. The veil is seen as a symbol of barbaric oppression in the west especially in the post 9/11 world. This is a ripe example of white feminism over shadowing voices of colour. Hence when voices within a movement are marginalised to this extent, they start to

imbalance is what tends to happen because in society historically certain women are more privileged than other. Women of colour experience oppression in varying degrees of intensity due to differing cultural habits, race, gender, class, ability and ethnicity. For example, a brown cis gendered woman would face higher amounts of both racism and sexism than a white cisgender woman as they navigate through different walks of everyday life.

lose their place in it. This is just plain wrong, period. Two well-known hierarchal systems exist in India, patriarchy and the historical caste system. And though the latter no longer formally exists, its norms and repercussions are still very real within Indian communities. When we examine those who are the most vulnerable to each of these systems, women and Dalits, we see the resulting disadvantage is compounded. A severe iteration of oppression specific to these overlapping identities is in the form of sexual violence. Studies show that Dalit women are disproportionately exposed to violence. Beyond this, the conviction rate for rape cases against all women in India is a mere 25%, but when specifically looking at Dalit women the conviction rate drops to an abysmal 2%. Intersectionality goes to understand that when identities intersect the related discrimination can result in an “experience that is more than the sum of its parts�.

A ripe example of sabotaging voices can be seen in feminism that is overly white and middle class. White feminism being more privileged is dominating representation and agency meant for women of colour. The feminist movement will only be effective when the agency is distributed based on societal privilege rather than cultural and religious status among women. The movement will only strengthen further if all move forward together instead of stagnating certain voices of colour while the white women claim their rightful position. Because, that brings us back to square one where women of colour are at the mercy of trickle down effect. Muslim women for example are heavily targeted over wearing veil, burkha or chador or any other sort of religious clothing by mainstream feminists despite of


This is a debate that can easily be hushed down by privileged groups intentionally or unintentionally. It would still take a considerable amount of time for the masses to get used to this term and its effects but until then, they can only attempt to be aware of their influence and perhaps check their privilege.

Brown speak: The stolen privileges. What it means to be brown in todays’ world. Photo and Words by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay I am talking about acceptance; I am talking about realisation and reconciliation. What does it mean to be brown? what does it mean to me, my immediate surroundings, friends, family and strangers? We are part of a giant undefined diaspora that has expanded not only within its own original boundaries but also created a niche for themselves around the world. The brown communities are both widespread and intercultural. Brownness in general is complicated, varied and a wire mesh of disparity. It’s even more complex because not everyone in the brown diaspora is granted equal privilege. This is because not all of the brown diaspora comes from the same continent or subcontinent, and not all kinds of brownness is treated the same. This makes the representation of brown people, and brown cultures all the more difficult. It seems like our priorities were misled. In order to gain respect and a decent livelihood in society, the brown diaspora attempted to climb up the social ladder of whiteness. Something that is quite unreasonable and truly poisonous to one’s own identity and confidence. We were always here, always have been but yet, we are seen as a product of poverty and colonization. There are thousands of reasons that have led to this, but don’t you think, we as humans deserve a right to be seen as worthy and capable? There’s always more than what meets the eye. Yes we are immigrants, and have been under this category since forever. Why? Because these largely undefined diasporas were colonized, forced to fight someone else’s wars while their hometowns were stripped off of all economic capacities and resources required to function. This put us ages behind in the race that we all seem to be unanimously a part of. Then enter the world of the so-called super powers who now, so gracefully grant aids, and suddenly care so much. Once our oppressors, now our saviours

with their ever-present condescending air. We aren’t anyone’s common wealth or puppets, we don’t need sympathy and endearing arms, neither are we longing and waiting to be saved. We are what we are and much more than a misrepresented Simpson’s character. After being displaced internationally, our seeds were sown everywhere, ready to thrive and shine. This displaced brown diaspora grew from very humble beginnings. Even after facing generations of systemic racism, hard-working, brown immigrants became a symbol of multicultural success. [An unexpected] consequence of colonialism and cultural influx. It is also the tool through which the white society proves its goodness to itself, bragging how “forgiving”, “accepting” and “racially free” they are. I am not here to advocate hatred towards certain races but to continue the conversation about representation of brown diaspora as well as systemic racism faced by them. Although, I do want people to own up to their mistakes and realise their privileges, before they make culturally alienating assumptions. Stay woke.



Migrant Story By: Jackie Obungah

Perhaps the most agreeable thing about the migrant story is that it is one of constant learning. Some teachings break you in half with the weight of their truth, others piece you together but you are never really the same. When I pick up the pen to write about my migrant story I am constantly reminded of the teachers I have met on this journey. Those who known nothing and taught me lies. They have been many of this kind. Those who have tried to undo the layers upon layers of falsehood imprinted on me. They have been my guiding Light. In your migrant journey write your own truth, your own words, your own story. Weave the masterpiece of your existence. We are worthy and deserving to take up spaces meant for us!

Photo by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay


“As a guest to the unceded Coast Salish territories, it is important to think about my positionality as a settler on this land and the experiences of Indigenous folks who are still facing ongoing colonization and marginalization.�

As I was writing the piece on World Refugee Day, I was thinking about displacement and how it affects marginalized folks both similarly and differently. Displacement is what mainly causes people to flee and has created the existence of refugees. As a guest to the unceded Coast Salish territories, it is important to think about my positionality as a settler on this land and the experiences of Indigenous folks who are still facing ongoing colonization and marginalization. I was involved in a project that brought together Immigrant, Refugee, and Indigenous youth to make short films around the topic of displacement. We were able to come up with strong and amazing films and were able to incorporate our lived experiences

as young people who have been affected by colonization, marginalization, and discrimination. This opportunity gave me the space to think about allyship and the importance of solidarity among racialized groups. That is why on this day, it is useful to think about the manifestation of the effects of colonization both on refugees and Indigenous people. It is also relevant to find ways to support each other in our struggles and the resistance that our people continue to show and survive in a system that was not made for us to thrive in.



The post- colonial Afro-politans Sit in foreign classrooms Analyzing shrunken and inaccurate maps of their homelands Watching figures explain their history from textbooks written by those Who have never and will never live their experience They boil with seething anger that almost tears them in half The post-colonial afropolitans are tired Weary of the emotional burden that they carry in these classrooms Heavy with the weight of responsibility burdening them Uncomfortable with all the eyes watching them for answers Lest we forget, the post-colonial afro politan is fearless An absolute danger A force to be reckoned with when the time comes A representation of a greater generation arising from the ashes The world was never ready for them.

Photo by: Golsa Golestaneh 14 BEATS MAGAZINE ISSUE 12 2018

Student Life:

World University Services of Canada By: Ayan Ismail

Did you know about WUSC and the SRP program at Simon Fraser University? WUSC stands for World University Services of Canada and is a Non-profit organization that looks to improve education, employment, and empowerment opportunities for youth. WUSC works towards fostering youth-centered solutions to overcome inequality and exclusion. Among other programs that WUSC implements are; UNITERRA (an initiative that supports volunteering and partnerships for increased empowerment, employment, and incomes for youth and women); Shine a Light Campaign (an initiative to support girls’ education in refugee camps). The Student Refugee Program (SRP) is another initiative of WUSC that combines resettlement and education for refugee students. The program is unique itself as it offers an opportunity for youth to youth sponsorship and an opportunity for refugee students to continue their post-secondary education in Canadian universities along with resettlement. This is partly supported by students through a student levy and partly with support from the university. The SRP program is active in over 80 universities and colleges across Canada. In British Columbia, institutions that have the program include; SFU, UBC, UVic, VIU, Alexander College, among others.

since 2016. Previously we had 2-3 students annually which was raised to six as a result of the refugee crisis in Syria. There are a group of student volunteers, faculty, and staff who make up the Local Committee (LC) which supports the students with adjusting and integration in the new system and society upon their arrival. Although the LC and people around the new students offer support to their best, they still face challenges. Being one of the students who came through the program, I faced challenges with understanding the Canadian education system, loneliness, culture shock, change of weather, depression, discrimination, among others. Being far from my family and friends, it was difficult to adjust and fit into the society here. It was hard to make friends and even to find a job. ‘Canadian experience’ is demanded and for newcomers to Canada, it is hard to show that. Instead our experiences from where we come from is not accounted for and is disregarded which is not quite fair. Generally, life for newcomers, especially students, is tough. Although it comes with positive things such as adventure and new opportunities, it also embodies challenges and some degree of difficulty.

At SFU, we’ve welcomed six students every year



I LOVE Being Me! By: Ayan Ismail

And sometimes Solitude is what the body wants Not because it so wishes But it just needs To absorb all the stress That comes with our lives

Then you come to a certain point Where you don’t give a shit What someone thinks about you For you are YOU And that’s never gonna change You put yourself first, before anything else

When you have a whole system Working against you As though it was meant To always put you down And hault every path you try to take It becomes a huge struggle

That period is sweet For it’s only you that matters To yourself, at last The body, heart, mind, and soul Becomes happy and rejuvenated For they are the only ones Who deeply know and understand What they’ve been through to smile

Because you’re used to such fights As you’ve fought too many of a kind To be where you are today It becomes just one of the many Small hurdles that you come across Hence it doesn’t affect you as much Little do you realize that You totally forgot about yourself In your day to day resistance You get burdened and tired Physically, mentally, emotionally No one to cry to or understand you After a while you get drowned In anxiety, nervousness, And different breakdowns All that so people can accept you For who you are and your difference All you want is people to embrace you


You finally come to terms With how you look Your identity matters I love being Black I love being Muslim I love being a woman I simply love being MYSELF!!

Photo by: Aslam Bulbulia

Photo by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay

Gentrification By: Jackie Obungah

Church Bells and Choir sounds keep US safe in cities where WE are unwanted, We find refuge in walls embedded with crucifixes WE pray now but tomorrow WE pack and head for the hills The one lesson WE have learnt is never plant firm roots WE float place to place at the mercy of the laws, Laws that choose freely to rehome and displaces US The systematic erasure of decades of history, culture, art and complexity is telling, in our beloved Vancity. Paved paths and colonial aesthetic lights is not enough to dim the light that once shone through here! We can hear their voices! The voices of those you tried to cement into gentrified walls Their tears flood the city Their pain paints the city What they left behind we will excavate and bring to ground



Photo by: Aritro Mukhopadhyay

A Beautiful Fantasy By: Narges Samimi

If my free spirit did not meet the standard ideal of my birth then where do I belong? I don’t think I can fit in my homeland Nor the rest of the world Maybe I was just born wrong They say “you are what you wear” but I’m not these short dresses nor the long ones”. That misguided perception of my identity fitting in to a pair of skinny jeans would just simplify your view of me What a beautiful fantasy you have created That pretty world you have created shelters you Perhaps you forgot what sorrows you might have felt and have deluded yourself that your only happy The reality is quite different my experience is beyond that I am constantly reminiscing the last explosion, the smell of gunpowder,and the smell of the blood of my friends and neighbours filling up my lungs like an invader All that bloodshed, all your wars, all those souls that knew nothing but war These wounds and scars are not visible they are deep within our souls Perhaps all you see are my jeans and my skirts but you don’t see that inside of that I long and hope the healing of people and for the days we prosper not just survive.


DEAD TONGUES By: Jackie Obungah Did I ever tell you I dream in vernacular? And I wonder why my dreams never manifest in the reality I live Because I am chained to English Some of us carry two tongues Fathers/mothers It is with great regret that I announce the death of the side of my tongue that belongs to my father The funeral was held, the ashes were spread on the shores of Lake Victoria, Worry not! it is in the company of fellow such tongues Unwatered, untended and eventually withered - dead The side of my tongue that belongs to my mother is still alive But did I mention it is in critical condition Send your prayers, thoughts and love If it survives the night I will have you all to thank As I sit here in reflection I wonder what will happen when I don’t have a tongue English can never carry my truth There is an untranslatable poetry written in our bones and blood These words and feeling do not exist in English I will die and they will bury me with my story I will join my tongue in purgatory and be damned in the silence that I chose