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From the Root Zine Issue # 1 HAIR Copyright Š 2014 Whitney French and Josiane Anthony H Copyright for each of the artworks in this book, written and visual, remain with the author. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission in writing from the artist of the specific work. Cover Design & Typesetting: Whitney French Printed and Bound in Toronto, Canada @fromtherootzine From The Root Zine would like to recognize Cue Art Projects for their generous support in the production of Issue #1 of this zine.


s t n e t n o c editors’ notes: Whitney French and Josiane Anthony H ..... ...... 4-5

:: her power is in her hair :: Don’t Touch My Fucking Hair: Afuwa.......... .......... .......... ............. 6 hairography: Sharrae Lyon .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ........ 8 .crown & armour.: rampage! .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ....11 still too white: Cicely Blain .............. .......... .......... .......... ..............12 fresh cut: Whitney French .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ........13 unleashed: Sheniz Janmohamed .......... .......... .......... .......... .........15 :: i am a traveller on a quest:: Medusa of Jamdown: Afuwa .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ....16 how my memories take root: kemba king .......... .......... .......... ......18 coils of authenticity: Medgine Mathurin.......... .......... .......... ....... 20 my body is a grassland: Janice Lee .......... .......... .......... .......... ..... 22 The Headwraps Headshots: Fonna Seidu.......... .......... .......... ...... 24 Beauty out of Bondage : Shakeyra Pinnock .......... .......... ............ 26


:: as if i forgot my roots :: texture of bravery: Lamoi Simmonds.......... .......... .......... .......... . 28 aspirations of beauty: Zainab Amadahy.......... .......... .......... ........ 30 natural before the trend : Third Eye Visionary......... ....... .......... .. 32 Natural Strength : Shakeyra Pinnock.......... .......... .......... ............. 35 :: don’t edit your exotic :: Own It: Sydonne Dunkley .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ....... 36 Ädat: Bänoo Zan ......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... . 38 ethnic eyebrows: Kanwal Rahim.......... .......... .......... .......... .......... 39 my hair is not exotic! it’s just hair: Casandra London.......... ......... 42 From the Root Call Out: Issue # 2 -- BODY.......... ................. ..... 44 Contributors’ Bios .......... ................. ................. ................. ....... .. 46


s e t o n s ’ r ito


This Zine You’re holding it! This badass, intense, poetry filled, visually stimulating, rantraging zine is in your hands. And with purpose! Believe me a lot of sweat and blood and split ends went into this first issue. To be honest, I’m surprised we got it done. You see, I’ve always wanted to create a literary magazine for women of colour to offset the disparity of diversity in the Canadian canon. There are trailblazers (too many to count) who have published on their own accord but there are only a handful of literary journals that exclusively showcase the voices of women of colour. I never got over the snowflake quality of writing in many lit-mags. Sure, there are writers of colour occupying space but it was bleak being alone, a speck of colour on a white page. I was seeking to engage in a nation-wide dialogue with my fellow sisters, women, trans-women, queer, Aboriginal and differently abled women about issues that matter: self-actualization, oppression, collective insecurities, triumphs, personal growth, Canada’s special brand of racism. I wanted to hear from women who are fearless about their culture, political and unapologetic, who honour tradition while liberating their feminine fury. How do we navigate through this landscape as women from an era of social injustice, living during a massive spiritual awakening? Can we do all of that through a zine? So, one issue at a time, we’ll collect stories, visuals, poetry, rants, moments through From the Root, the new zine on the block. And we’re starting from the top of our head, from our roots, with hair. The topic is powerful, political, polished and has surpassed my own expectations. Whether debating the classic natural vs. textured hair debate, exploring body hair, eyebrows, armpit hair, ancestry, genocide, environment, magic and sorcery or a personal journey, this issue digs deep into


the multifaceted complexities of hair. Our hair against the white beauty ideals, our hair against decades of oppression, our hair against notions of femininity, our hair against repression of sexuality and more. Our hair is our power. You’re holding this zine. So hold tight, fingers through the pages, fingers through your hair, let’s dish it out. -- Whitney French Hair Are you torn between the complications of hair? Are you thinking of it powerfulness? Are you wondering how political it is? Does it have anything to do with spirituality? Is it that important? Are the hairs on my head really numbered? Oh, I don’t really care - it’s a waste of time I just put it in one fold and go my way I just shave all that off - simple. Oh, I like mine funky I like mine twisted - NEAT. Well, you’re not alone And you’re holding the right book - with your peers in it. So, Dear fellow Queens, Let’s wear our crowns with grace, the roots of our ancestors Protecting our cosmic tradition. Let’s kiss it, trim it, grow it, shave it, however it But with love and gentility Remembering it is royal, we are royals. -- Josiane Anthony H


Don’t Touch My Fucking Hair


print by Afuwa

n i s i r e w o p r “he

� r i a her h ed m a h o m n a J iz n e h -- S


y h p a r g o r i a h

by Sharrae Lyon

The ancients ones said that our hair were like antennas. Devices that transmitted information from the spirit world to the material world. Hair, it is a storyteller by it’s own right. My hair has marked various points of massive growth and pain in my life. A darkskinned black girl, my plaided hair was undesired beside the many depictions of flowing silky hair. Beauty standards function within an anti-black framework, whereby blackness is positioned furthest a way from the ideal image of light skin and silky hair. Black hair, in its coils and its kinks can be a site of (queer) resistance, pushing the boundaries of concepts of self. My hair is somewhat of an hairography. From two corn-rowed plaits and braids as a child, to my first relaxer when I was 13, chasing after certain expectations, suppression of self began. Sitting between mi muddah’s legs, scalp itching and burning. Lawd, I do not miss those days. The dead DNA up onah mi head, no matter its state has carried me through both my successes and failures. I eventually had enough. Aligned with my spiritual trajectory, of dreams inspired by Quranic messages, of inspiration, of divine intervention, of intervention yes, to the craziness of submerging the beauty that is me, of darkness, of dark matter,  dark energy, to power. Hijab protected me and illuminated my inner beautification as I allowed my hair to return to its original state. I walked bad then, yet I moved humbly forward. Fear couldn’t catch mi, for I had the Highah Powah on my side. 


And then my sexuality commanded my attention and so I gave her my fullness. I removed the cloth, bringing my curly coils into the heat of the sun. In search for spiritual sex, I found leeches, who wanted to tek tek tek, from mi. I desired to erotically speak, without speaking. Moan, tug, bite, and oh was it a journey.  I tapped into suppressed desires,  of childhood girl crushes, blushes that my dark skin could hide. Finally understood my attraction to the androgynous.  fuck, I realized I am a beautiful, bisexual/queer. My truth was revealed, I returned to my full natural state.  Intertwining bodies and spirits with the good and the succubi, it is now that I know, that the energy of those that you let converse with your erotic spirit can influence your self-protection. Emotional abuse sent me off the rails.  She was the dark skinned ancestor of a distant past, her skin gleaned like gold, the moon made her glow. She was beautiful, yet wretched. Illusion turned into a nightmare.  Fear swallowed truths and necessary needs,  my belief shot, like a bullet through my aura. *** I became a shadow. I needed to be in control So I shaved it. 


Shredding the strands of other’s DNA, fingers, breath breathed through sex moans, of words shouted and thrown like daggers, I wanted it gone. and the closer I got to the skin, I rose from the ashes, anew.  *** Retrospectively many strong whispers and vivid shouts from my ancestors and the Divine, called to me. My coiled receptors picked up their signals. It came to me, “This is not what you are here for. You are here for greatness.  You are here to communicate and create beside the people who truly inspire the erotic, the spirit, the mind and the body.” I have left so much behind me, I have put down all the baggage. I can just continue to shave it all off, each day a new start,  a new opportunity for growth.


& n row


. r u o m ar

by rampage! It doesn’t have to be uniform, but it keeps me in check. At my lowest times I see her rise and sometimes, I am pushed to the edges. My hairdo is a galaxy; it reminds me of why I travel this planet at this time. These curls crawl into a safe place. They bite intruders. When dreams weave into wonder, this is what happens. Unscathed hair doesn’t mean an unscarred soul.


h g u o n e e t i h w t o n l l i t s

by Cicely Blain

First day of school, sent home. Hair resembles rows of cane, forefathers slain as they sing Underground Railroad. White man chops the delicate plaits Mother had so intricately traipsed over my scalp. The beads (red, white and blue) that had made me giddy – hit the floor like a nine-tails whip on flesh. Six hours, Mother had spent. Coaxed me, bribed me with Cartoon Network and fries for tea, to sit patiently. Tears she’d woven in with her loom fingers “luk how fass yuh grow up, pickney ” Each strand coated in loving layers of Olive Oil product – ventured to the other part of town to purchase. Mother said don’t wear your Jane jumper, your Tilly trousers, your Hillary hat. She shoved me into my Shaniqua shoes instead. Still too white, I stayed in the car. Mother stocked up on a different product this time ones that would burn away the ancestral curl ones that would iron out Martin’s dream, flatten Rosa’s No. Chariots of fire run riot on my head; Mother is crying different tears this time.


Second day of school kept in class hair shine like Jamaican sunbeams but stay static in Westerly wind – White fingers repel at the touch; Still not white enough.

t u c h s e r f

by Whitney French

first Easter after the big chop family praying for my “beautiful” hair to come back from the dead with more vigor than Christ’s resurrection odd, no one said my hair was beautiful before I went natural my auntie full of spunk and flair with short near-bald hair high-fived me I was unintentionally registered into some type of new society elders mumble that i was a revolutionary now and they must watch what they say around me i just cut my hair spontaneous: I sat in a chair of the salon and refused the relaxer, although I’d booked enough time for a perm, I made her cut


until the hair started to kink, roots napping and thick no longer chocked by a straightened stranger I just cut my hair the wind combing my short hair, breeze could touch parts of my scalp with ease, my mother had a panic attack over rue St. Denis, with a smile and snare I marched proud with new hair, which was really old hair in the first place, “empowered” “natural”, “free” I think I explaimed to my mother so ashamed at how ‘niggerish’ I looked. two hours later, after my boyfriend dumped me on the phone, (a true?) I cried, “mi bal’ off mi head like a man!” i…just…cut…my…hair acquiring identity and strength in knowing that my people are of the strongest on Earth, that my “failures” to subscribe to Eurocentric views was really embracing my heritage learning about self and lineage and pride and power, loving myself and my people and giving praise for the ancestors before me allowing me to be free how did that realization begin? i just cut my hair.



d e h s a nle

by Sheniz Janmohamed They believed a witch unleashed a storm when she loosened her hair. How many hurricanes have hurled through towns because of your hair? Leaning against a traffic light, a ragged street doll clasps her hands together. A couple of coins will never rinse out the pain from her dirt-streaked hair. Each strand is like silk spun from a dark raven feather, a moonless night. Lightning cracks the oak of your heart as she unties the knot of her hair. Where is your power? In your hands, your eyes, your legs, your mind. Hers grows centimetre by centimetre, inch by inch. Her power is in her hair.


Medusa of Jamdown


print by Afuwa

r e l l e v a r t a “I am

� t s e u q a n o --

rin u h t a ne M i g d e M


t o o r e k a t es

i r o m e m y m by kemba king

My memory is bad. I mean it is selective. Not by me, but something. I think a lot of my new writing will start like this – talking about the selectiveness of my memory. Maybe writing will be the trigger to remember new memories. It, my memory, comes back in waves via re-stimulation. On the rare occasions that I eat macaroni and cheese and I didn’t add enough cheese, I will add ketchup and this will remind me of the one of the few babysitters I had or when I smell oil I think of Trinidad.   There are certain things about my life that I remember through pictures. Like being in pigtails with red bows at 5 years old. When I am doing healing work with my inner child it is her who I think of. I/She is often standing on a beach.  When I see a picture with a doll that I was given, I remember trying to learn unsuccessfully how to cornrow on it. When I see pictures of Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice, I remember my mom putting the same types of braids into my hair. I smile inside as that was one of the first few times that I can remember a desire to emulate. Then there are the pictures of me with weave, sometimes when I mention it to people they can’t believe it. “You had a weave?” Yes , I had all kinds of weave. In a short period of time I had all types of shapes, textures, lengths and…wait for it…colours of weave.   It seems long ago – all the different hair style changes: braids, leisure curls, relaxed, pony tails, afros, twist outs. Then one day….well kind of one day that lasted 4 years, I decided to lock my hair. Ten years later, my mirror is my picture and I remember the night a friend took a pomade that she made and twisted my hair. We were in the half-light and it smelled of bergamot. We watched a movie or two that I can’t


remember the names of now. My hair jutted out from scalp like little spikes. When she finished. I beamed. I remember using a trouser sock to pull the front back for a different look as they grew bit by bit. Then my spikes grew slightly below my neckline and one at the top would stick out from the rest. When people would remind me it was there I would just tell them it was my intuition sensor. I remember the first time putting them into a ponytail and thinking if it stopped growing right there it would all have been worth it. I remember going to the first Toronto National Hair show and seeing other folks like me with locs and feeling the love. There are more sweeter, sensual moments when having a lover’s fingers play and stroke my hair, before, after and during ecstasy. I remember the time when I thought I needed a new look and found how-to tutorials online (okay, I just watched Chescalocs for several hours).   My locs have become the root for many of my memories since growing them. One day I may not have them. Perhaps in my elder age, I will have a low fade with a silver lining in it, but for now these locs act like bungee cords bouncing me back to familiar times.


y t i c i t n e h t u a f o s coil

by Medgine Mathurin

I am a traveller On a quest for realness. I am a traveller On a quest for truth. I am a traveller On a quest for authenticity: An undisputed origin of me. My hair, my first dispute, Was molded to fit the media’s standard of beauty Faltered I thought every new growth was ugly Altered Distorted realities of me trying to fit this reality. The first time I attempted a braid-out She told me, “You look like a slave,” Black friend, born and raised in Ghana, Africa. I tried to find the shackles she spoke of. Unable to find the whips triggering her tongue To mold this oppressive sentence into existence, I remained mute. Not in agreement but in disbelief That she identified my hair as an unwanted accessory. So…I began to dig Resurfaced layers of agony from slavery mentality


I began to dig Dusted off the ashes of negativity Only to find that in the casket My crown and glory was resurrected. Water, its lifeline Moisture, its nutrient “It’s on your head for a reason, it’s to teach you patience.” Each curl traced with convoluted authenticity Being simple, is simply complicated. And detangling authenticity takes patience. So with time, my real hair grew and so did I. I discovered the wisdom of God’s outline: The bounce of every one of my curls affirmed my resilience. Every broken comb showed that nothing can break me. I spring forth and thrive with His love and sustenance. Now standing out is what I do best No longer Gone with the Wind But far from Kunta Kuntae My roots have shown me the treasure of self-acceptance.


d n a l s s a r g a s i y d o b y m

by Janice Lee

My body is a grassland, blowing in the breeze, growing with ease, sprouting bushes of cushions cozy to me. In Grade 4, I sat on the portable steps at recess. A Grade 5 girl sitting below me looked at my knees and asked rather authoritatively, “Do you shave? Because you should.” Grade 5 Janice thought: Now why would I mow my soft and untouched grasslands? Whoooo is this girl? Telling me parking lots are prettier than meadows? Blank space more interesting than texture? Grade 5 Janice scoffed. Pft. Bullshit. I went home that night and told my mom. She looked at me sadly, regretting that I had not inherited her skin, smooth like a marble floor. Instead I had the skin of my father’s family, fishing people, who had endured the salty waters of the sea threatening the growing seasons of our grassland skin. But mother hens want to protect their chicks. And ugly chicks get picked on and my legs were UGLY. Ugly for being furry. I learned that girls can’t grow grasslands, only boys can. So that night, two sharp metal blades scraped across the surface of my delicate peachy skin in a cloud of white foam masquerading as the fragrant plumage


of blooming flowers. It was a clear cut. A massacre. In bed, I felt the softness of my sheets in a bizarre new way. Like a plucked chicken rubbing against an unplucked chicken and thinking, Shit! I’m naked. And cold. And ready for a butchering. In following years my grasslands weathered new methods of attempted annihilation. My aunt didn’t tar and feather but waxed and ripped out my roots. Leaving a warzone of red exploded pixels screaming in silent pain. Grade 9 Janice tried to smile and glorify the smooth glassy finish of a calm lake, not its surrounding prickly forest. Suppressing the quiet mind picket signs protesting, “Keep your pesticides out of my inner thighs!” Technologies advanced and sabateour marketeers thought up brilliant new ideas like, three blades! FOUR blades! FIVE blades! Vibrating blades! Vibrating blades surrounded by aloe moisture strips! Soft ergonomic handles! In hot pink! In lavender oooo! Slogans and shit, something University Janice entered new growing seasons, left the home turf behind and watered new gardens. Hibernating in a library cave and caring not to mow the grass. Thinking new ideas plucked from old books, discovering forests of grandeur full of free feathery birds, dreaming about a chicken that one day was brave enough to grow up against the razor sharp pressures of magazine page beauty and refuse to be naked. Refuse to be plucked. Finding writing in my own notebooks declaring, My body is a grassland, blowing in the breeze, growing with ease, sprouting bushes of cushions. They’re cozy, you’ll see.



The Headwrap Headshots -- Amanda

photography by Fonna Seidu


Beauty out of Bondage


painting by Skakeyra Pinnock -- acrylic

” s t o o r y m t o g r o f I “as if

ds n o m Sim i o m a -- L


y r e v a r b f o e r u t x te

by Lamoi Simmonds

They keep telling me how brave I am, as if I forgot my roots, stretched low in his white loins, made beautiful and strong in her womb just black enough for his desire. As if I am ashamed of who I am not proud of who the centuries have let me become, so I keep dodging the lines to be recognized by those whose memories picked cotton. They say it in awe, as if I escaped under the care of the midnight, washed my God given scent away with the rushing of the murky waters, and stole away in boxes designed for corpses. Hummed freedom lines interwoven with quiet calls for defiance, and coerced freedom like it was never meant to be mine. They declare it like speeches, as if my bones fought for the rights and freedoms of my fellow brothers and sisters. My final word of resistance being cut short as my contradicting delicacy dangled from the twined noose that still struggles against my fight. As if my brave heart dead, beats in their floorboards, driving mad men mad. Madder. Disintegrating. They say it should never be forgotten, as if my body tired, yet harboring flames in my bones, wiped tears dry, and soothed the malnourished dreams of my fellow chosen ones, as we marched invisible to the sensibilities of humanity,


through the gates of Arbeit macht frei‌.work makes free. Flames also makes free. Souls the color of flames fly free. They use words like strength, as if I was dragged from the ramshackled house I shared with my family members now made silent in the war. Legs torn open by power drunk soldiers, g-spot being slaughtered by round tip daggers, and sweaty breaths dribble stench that terrorize dreams onto my defiant worth. As if my bed was the concrete, and my fight was to stay alive on the cold city streets that speak of freedom and laughter, but cultivate tired dependence on pain and the lack of love. Babies born to drugs, dependent on mothers, laws made to green, dependent on sinners. They keep reminding me of how brave I am, heaping on me, centuries of fighters, defiers, bus seat strugglers, genocide survivors, clapping for me, staying alive after the rape, like I remained alive after the crushing hand of fate... when all I am is just a black woman who cut off her hair.


y t u a e b f o s n o i t a aspir

by Zainab Amadahy

Eyes of blue set in bleached white skull Held aloft to the sky Imperious apparition regards and impels me to die Please don’t make my brown eyes blue Yellow hair frames sickly pallor My wide nose and nappy locks A badge of respect and honour Blonde straight hair Aspire to lighten Porcelain skin Aspire to whiten Big round eyes Aspire to lighten Surgery Aspire to whiten Golden sun adores copper skin Lotus petal eyes resist time Cinnamon breeze in darkened night Drumbeats, curves, olives and wine Blonde straight hair Aspire to lighten Porcelain skin Aspire to whiten


Big round eyes Aspire to lighten Surgery Aspire to whiten No one can tell you the measure of your worth Nothing more beautiful than the colours of Earth Eyes of blue set in bleached white skull Held aloft to the sky Imperious apparition regards And I REFUSE to die Set me free From standards of white beauty Porcelain breaks easily Treasure self Aspire to pride Remember that I survived Storms of genocide Storms of genocide Eyes of blue set in bleached white skull Held aloft to the sky Imperious apparition regards And we REFUSE to die We REFUSE to die We survived genocide.


d n e r t e h t e r o f e b l a r u t na

by Third Eye Visionary

Yes, I do feel it is necessary To tell people that I was Natural before the trend. I speak because I remember Their laughter and silence respectively When they said that My hair plaited in canerow Made me look masculine And when the girl with The jet black drop-curls Told them all that the teacher said “The one with the matted hair,� When he described me. Nowadays there are so many Words of encouragement For those who are newly Getting acquainted With the textures That they were born with. I speak, Because there were no such words, Understanding, Or compassion For me When at age thirteen when I took The care of my hair Into my own hands


After Rheumatoid Arthritis Had taken over my mother’s. No auto-immune disease, But I still cannot get my braids As neat. A woman once said that A friend needed a touch–up so bad That she wanted to take A box of relaxer and dash it to her head. I asked why it mattered to her She replied that “The roots were coming in too thick, Looking distasteful,” And she resented it. I asked if she could say that about her, What does she think about me And my own? Root to tip. Her reply was that she Would never say Such a thing about me Because she knew that I was so into my roots. She may have considered that A compliment. But I call it getting Caught in the Crossfire of the sentiment. They say that Natural Hair Is the New Black consciousness, But I say that Some are just trend-hoppers, Wearing pride as a mask, To cover guilty consciences. I will think twice before I Watch your tutorial


Or listen to you lecture, Because most of you Are only proud of your twist out Because your hair now resembles Someone else’s texture. I will not sit silently Like I did back in the day When you tried to heighten My insecurity. No, I will not refrain From my proclaim I am Natural. I was Natural before the trend. And I will be Natural When some of you Go back to switching Your styles again.


Natural Strength

painting by Skakeyra Pinnock -- acrylic


Own it


illustration by Sydonne Dunkley -- charcoal, pencil, coloured pencil

” c i t o x e r u o y t i d e t “don’ m

hi a R l a -- Kanw


t a d Ä


by Bänoo Zan Bitter dark my hair sweetly frosted white cream.

Time drinks it at length without repenting immortality Ou2 has always liked esh3 coffee.

Habit in Persian. Ou: third person singular non-gender specific subject pronoun in Persian, equivalent to both “she” and “he”. 3 Esh: third person singular non-gender specific possessive pronoun in Persian, equivalent to “her” and “his”. 1



s w o r b e y e c i n h t e

by Kanwal Rahim

What has happened to the state of the World’s… …EYEBROWS! Few months ago I got very upset with my threading lady. She was the 12th person unable to shape my eyebrows As per my requirements. Shocked at the results Be courteous, be courteous hold it in My central Asian passive aggressiveness kicked in! So I held my tears and came home. Pacing back and forth in my washroom Mouthing insolently Like an angry woman from a Pakistani village I started spewing my own version of the Satanic Verses. “Acid in your face! May your children be born with no eyebrows! May you have to live under the Burkha for the rest of your life!” Admittedly my instructions, ‘keep it natural’ were a bit vague Thinking to myself, Do I need to get poetic about this too?


A: How would you like your eyebrows shaped? K: Like a slightly tamed Bengali forest My eyes are small and sensitive They need a proper roof over their heads Recently I made a horrifying observation in dance class All students with permanent look of surprise painted on their faces! Human beings are supposed to have eyebrows over their eyes Not black sharpie stencilled tick marks! If you’re 65, the skin over your eyes is starting to sag And you feel you need for the optical illusion…by all means But masses of 22-year-olds with identical shaped eyebrows! I’m not anti-grooming, piercing or tattooing or Sitting in awareness with your statement of a shaved message If it’s your religion, I’m not addressing you I can imagine my first punk rock album cover Sporting my ‘Au Naturel’ eyebrows in the Year 2015 Will be as equally controversial as Patti Smith’s hairy underarms Age of the over-manicured, the over tweezed Permanent make-up? Or is this Permanently made-up! For goodness sakes ladies, reign it in…just a bit Recognize you have a problem and put a fucking brake on it! Don’t compel me into forming the undercover ‘tweezer bandits’, Sneak into your powder rooms at night And confiscate your gold-plated plucking gear! Ms. Cocaine Eyebrows You know who you are In the 12-Step Program


You’ll be disciplined into repeating the mantra ‘Wild is not wicked, wild is erotic!’ Should’ve heeded to the Maya Angelouish in me: ‘When people show you what shape of eyebrows they have, Believe them the first time. Don’t let them shape yours.’ Oh the scars of tweezer-happy aestheticians… This caution applies to all genders and ethnicities If you have precision painted tick marks, For reasons other than hair loss or cancer, HALT! Step away. Form a support group. To my brown girls, Wear your eyebrows ethnic Proud and thick as the Bengali forest. Don’t edit your exotic. YES, I HAVE EUGENE LEVY EYEBROWS AND I’M SUPER OKAY WITH IT!


! c i t o x e t o n s i r i a my h r i a h t s u j s ’ t i

by Casandra London “One minute your hair is kinky and the next...not.” “How did you do that?” “Your hair looks so different.” “Is that all of your hair?”

If you’re a person of color, or specifically a black woman, You might have heard some of these comments Once or twice in your lifetime. And no matter how you slice it, Our hair has become the object of discussion more times than not. I remember going to work with my permed hair for few weeks, And then decided to weave my hair. Big mistake! It was like birds flocking around me, Nipping at a piece of bread crumb. I was cornered by a group of women With loads of questions: “How did you get your hair like that?” “Is it all yours?” One of the women leaned in closer, As though she was studying a science project. And then she did it!


She did not ask, she did not look at my face, Instead, she locked her eyes on my hair, and then... Touched it. She touched it! I didn’t freak out, but I was very uncomfortable. We need to start making it A mandatory discussion in every workplace.  Touching someone’s hair without permission. Should be seen as part of the inappropriate behaviour mandate. Black women, we should be proud of who we are.  We are a multitude of cultures and mixtures  And our hair is no exception. So for those of you who may not understand Our kinky, curly, straight, permed, or weaved hair, Let me set the record straight. What we do to our hair Should not be seen as something exotic. I am waiting for the day  My choice of hair style Will be seen for what it is. Hair. Just that, hair!  



Submission Guidelines Are you your body? What are the stories behind your scars? Are there parts of your body you adore, you’re afraid of? From the Root’s second issue theme is: BODY. We are looking for articles, poetry, testimonials, artwork, rants etc. Deadline is November 3, 2014. 1. Applicants must identify as women of colour or as Aboriginal, Metis and/or Inuit. We strongly encourage writers with First Nations heritage, who identify as queer and writers with disabilities. 2. Entries should be typed (digital or typewriter) or written very neatly. Include pen name, email and location. 3. Art: Note that From the Root is a black and white zine. Do not send original art work but do send n elextronic/hard copy 4. Word limit: 650 words maximum. No cover letter, no bios. The work will speak for itself. 5. Mailing Address: 35 Ledbury Street, Toronto, ON M5M 4H1 Email Address:


s r o t u b i r t n co

Afuwa is an artist, thinker and maker who uses myth and constructions of identity to question nearly everything.  She was born in Guyana, studied in Jamaica and now makes art on unceded Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam, Squamish and Coast Salish territories. Of African American, Cherokee and European heritage, Zainab Amadahy is an author and educator.  Among her publications are Wielding the Force: The Science of Social Justice and Ways of Wielding, which explores the mind/ body/spirit connection and its relevance to activism and community organizing.  Zainab also authored the science fiction novels Resistance and Moons of Palmares. Info: Cicely Blain: I identify as a mixed-race lesbian cis-gendered British woman. In efforts to embody global citizenship, I also hold place in my heart for Jamaica, the Gambia, the Netherlands and Canada, where I am currently studying for my Bachelor’s degree in Modern European Studies and Russian. I am passionate about art, poetry, local politics, education, multiculturalism, mental health, feminism, dinosaurs and empowering minority communities. Sydonne Dunkley: I was born in May Pen, Clarendon, Jamaica. I moved to Canada at the age of three. I have always had an aptitude for art in multiple forms; this includes playing the piano and singing as well as drawing. After a six year hiatus from drawing, I finally started sketching again. In the last year I have managed to explore several mediums, and have decided to incorporate art into my career choice by studying architecture. My goal is to find success in following my passion. Whitney French is a writer, educator and literacy advocate. Her debut collection of poetry, 3 Cities was self-published and released in April 2012.


Additionally, her poetry has been anthologized in The Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry (2012). She is the co-editor and founder of From the Root Zine. Info: Josiane Anthony H is a Togo-born and Ghana-bred young woman who now resides on the Coast Salish Territory. She is a self-proclaimed young-Blackfeminist, passionate activist, poet and storyteller who enjoys art and uses it to break barriers. She believes in Divine intervention and puts God first in all things. She believes one has to keep in touch and in tune with the spirit in order to nourish the soul. She is a woman and a fighter even before her umbilical cords were formed. Sheniz Janmohamed is a spoken word artist, workshop facilitator and the Artistic Director of Sufi Poets Series. Her work as been featured at the TedX Youth Conference (Toronto, 2010), Indian Summer Festival (Vancouver, 2012) and the Jaipur Literature Festival (India, 2013). She has been published in a variety of journals including West Coast Line, Catamaran Literary Reader and SUFI Journal. Her first collection of poems, Bleeding Light (TSAR) was published in 2010. Info: kemba king graduated from york university (toronto) with a double honours in law and society and sociology and is currently pursuing a certificate in community healing and peacebuilding at OISE. she has worked as a peer counselor and co-ordinator at a gender advocacy centre (the centre for women and transpeople at york u). kemba has also programmed and hosted womyn’s word (a womanist spoken word radio show on CHRY radio). kemba is a freelance workshop facilitator and consultant. she has written for the blog genders across borders and has her own wordpress blog entitled in search of my mothers’ tongues. she co-hosts a weekly social justice radio show on CIUT 89.5 FM. Janice Lee is a spoken word poet, singer-songwriter and community organizer rooted in Kitchener, Ontario. She is the artistic director of the KW Poetry Slam and performs music with her blues/folk band Janice Lee and the Free Radicals. Janice writes about embodied struggle and joy related to politics, gender, race, community and food. Info:


Casandra London: As an innovative storyteller, I use multimedia journalism and theatre to spotlight positive stories to inspire families and individuals across the GTA. I am the founder of The Casandra London Network, I have written and co-produced plays under the mentorship of D’bi Young’s AnitaAfrika Dub Theatre program and facilitated over 10 spoken-word, visual art, and drama workshops at Arts For Children and Youth. Recently, I completed a media literacy workshop for emerging artists and educators, and produced a monologue entitled Loving Myself a biomythical story that explores issues of abandonment, self-worth, and acceptance. Sharrae Lyon is a dreamer, writer, artist, and spiritualist ascending to the Afrofuture. Her work has been published on For Harriet, Muslimah Media Watch, Canadian Dimensions, and People of Colour Organize! Currently, she is working on a multidisciplinary art project exploring diaspora, alienation and empowerment.   Info on Twitter: @_aisharae  Born and raised in Haiti, Medgine Mathurin spent her teenage years in Calgary and now calls Edmonton, her 3rd home. Her story is infused with English, French and Créole. Having recently graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor in Biological Science, she finds joy in poetry and creative writing. Medgine’s aim through her poetry is to uplift and enlighten those who hear it. She was part of the 2012 Edmonton Slam Team, and the Edmonton representative in the 2013 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam, held in Vancouver last April. Shakeyra Pinnock was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica. Her family moved to Canada in 1997 in hopes of a better quality of living. She is currently employed with Ledcor Group of Companies as an Administrative Assistant. Her interests include church, art, music, literature. At the moment she is looking to expand/explore her art and hopefully impact others through her work. Kanwal Rahim graduated from Second City’s Program in Improvisational Comedy in 2012.  She identifies herself as a Pakistani-Egyptian-Emirati-Canadian and her passion for music, performance and dance has always been core to her nomadic experience. She inherited her quirky sense of storytelling from her villager grandmothers. After completing Andrea Thompson’s OCAD course in Spoken Word, Kanwal participated in the Sound Poets Circle and the SpeakOut Slam in 2013 (Toronto).


rampage! [dione c. haynes] is a poet/writer from the Prairies, where her parents came from Tobago and Guyana, met and stayed! xhe [pref pronoun] is slowly but surely learning the art of being a bike mechanic and perfecting ginger beer, while patiently working on a Math degree from University of Winnipeg. Fonna Seidu is a queer-identified Black-Filipin@ photographer and community artist. She finds power in creative collaboration, (un)learning information, and documenting the progressive transformations of marginalized communities. In her free time she likes to attend workshops, practice various forms of self-care, and read politically charged conversations on tumblr. Lamoi Simmonds is a mother, entrepreneur, and spoken word artist. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, and a not-so-recent resident of Brampton Ontario, she lives life and art by those two spaces. Her resulting eclectic passions are transferred into her pieces and she pens poetry of abuse, love, faith, social issues and motivation. She is a lover of words, the stage, purpose, change, and is on the quest to be happy. Third Eye Visionary is an emerging poet from Ontario, Canada. She is FirstGeneration Canadian of Caribbean heritage. She discovered the art of poetry at the age of twelve, but had stopped writing for over a decade due to writer’s block. She resumed writing in 2010 and continues to write, about being a woman in the Diaspora, on a regular basis. She plans to publish a collection of her poems in the near future. Bänoo Zan landed in Canada in 2010. In her country of origin, Iran, she used to teach English Literature at universities. She has published more than 80 poems, translations, biographies, and articles in print and online publications around the globe. Her book of poetry Songs of Exile is being published in 2016 by Guernica Editions. She is the editor and compiler of Scarlet Thistles: A Canadian Poetry Anthology. She hosts Shab-e She’r (Poetry Night) in Toronto and believes that her politics is her poetry.


From the Root Issue 1 HAIR  

From the Root Issue 1 explores the dynamic, sensitive, political and powerful topic of hair by women of colour in a Canadian context. Addres...

From the Root Issue 1 HAIR  

From the Root Issue 1 explores the dynamic, sensitive, political and powerful topic of hair by women of colour in a Canadian context. Addres...