ISSUE 2 • SPRING 2016
THE COMFORT ISSUE
Pola Dobrzynski Anahita Padmanabhan Kala Slade Natalie Torres
COPYEDITORS Michelle Ajodah Alexandria Ellison Lucie Pereira Chala Tshitundu
MARKETING TEAM Prasuna Cheruku Anandita Choudhary Pola Dobrzynski Allie Martinez Kala Slade
POETRY REVIEW Sydney James Lucie Pereira Alicia Walker
Taylor Carlington Kala Slade
Becca Chairin Anandita Choudhary Alexandria Ellison Vivien Liu Lucie Pereira
Indigo Asim Alexandria Ellison Rraine Hanson Rija Rehan Taylor Roberts Natalie Torres
Indigo Asim Taylor Carlington Lissa Deonarain Alexandria Ellison Rraine Hanson Serena Koo Vivien Liu Rija Rehan Taylor Roberts Natalie Torres
Sarah Alli Becca Chairin Vivien Liu
Directed by Alexandria Ellison Models: Cylvanna Elgadi, Taylor Roberts & Mona Moriya
SPECIAL THANKS TO The Groover Family Flawless Brown ÂŠ 2016
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
I’m finalizing the second issue of Flawless Mag and thinking about how far we have come
in such a short amount of time. It’s extremely bittersweet for me because this is my final issue as Editor-in-Chief of Flawless Mag and as Head of Flawless Brown Writes (hey, I get to be a little selfish sometimes). Being a Film Production major, I never expected to lead a section of Flawless Brown tailored towards giving women of colour opportunities in writing and publishing, but I learned a lot after starting from scratch—learning InDesign, organizing photoshoots, learning that stylebooks exist (and that they are very helpful). I never imagined so many wonderful ladies would join Flawless Writes and create such amazing work, especially the ones who said that they weren’t writers.
But the women of Flawless Writes are what really kept me going this whole time. You wom-
en have been my rock, my support system, my life. I am truly blessed to have you by my side lifting me up and making me feel as if I’m actually helping people learn—even if it feels like I’m just rambling on and speeding through awkward InDesign workshops. I’m very excited to see the new Head of Flawless Writes and new Editor-in-Chief of Flawless Mag, the incredible Lucie Pereira, take over and use her little Writing, Literature & Publishing brain to take the blog and the magazine to places I couldn’t even visualize if I wanted to at this point in time.
This issue is so dramatically different from our first, not just in theme and content. This
semester we opened up submissions to women of color outside of Flawless Brown. Needless to say, we got a lot of submissions. So much in fact that we had a team of submission reviewers. We also had a full-fledged layout team, each person taking a handful of pages and designing them. We had an off-campus photoshoot and the actual funds to execute it. The submissions came from all over the world, each based on the creator’s own interpretation of comfort. There is so much talent packed in these 100 pages (YES, 100) that I still am finding new things I love with each re-read of the issue.
I just want to say to all the women who submitted: thank you. You are what fuels us and
keeps us inspired in every aspect.
I just want to say to all my women in Flawless Writes: even if my Google Drive folder maze
isn’t, I’ll still be here. I love you and you’re not getting rid of me just yet. With all of my love,
TABLE OF 6 Untitled Chala Tshitundu | Poetry
The Model Minority Reality
Tongue Tied Pola Dobrzynski | Article
Cindy Trinh | Photo Essay
30 Where Do I Belong? Anandita Choudhary | Article
11 Yellow Doriana Markovitz | Poetry
Dans Ma Culture
Secrets of the Sisterhood
14 16 17 17
Valerie Reynoso | Art
Meg Mowery | Article
The Effect of Collateral Damage on Displaced Iraqi-Canadians
Chala Tshitundu | Poetry
Taylor Carlington | Poetry
Handsome Cowboy | Poetry
Reasons Why We Fuck
Untitled II Valerie Reynoso | Art
Saeeda | Poetry
Say My Name Anahita Padmanabhan | Article
Karthika Solai | Art
What Are You?
40 My Dadâ€™s House Becca Chairin | Photo Essay
Lucie Pereira | Poetry
Ode to Guyana
Safe & Sound
Arnelle Williams | Poetry
Rija Rehan | Poetry
Noella Deonarain | Art
Maria Servellon | Poetry
50 57 58 62
Earth as Womb
Come to Me for Comfort
Nydia Hartono | Photo Essay
In Defense of Falling in Love With A White Boy
Brooklyn Boy Who Can Dance
Arnelle Williams | Poetry
Nappturality Cidgy Bossuet | Photo Essay
Allison Hagan | Article
Hair Daniah Readdie | Article
Karthika Solai | Art
Harman Kaur | Poetry
Liza Wagner | Poetry
Suzy Gonzalez | Art
Samantha Subaaharan | Poetry
Lissa Deonarain | Photo Essay
After Coming Out Carla Griffiths | Poetry
Believe Me Alicia Walker | Poetry
There is Something to Be Said for Them
To Anyone Who Feels Like They Want to Touch My Hair Tayler Lord | Poetry
THE COMFORT SHOOT
Maya Gujral | Poetry
Flawless Writes | Photoshoot
PLAYLISTS 100 Discomfort // 101 Comfort Kala Slade Rraine Hanson 5
My skin is Bl ack . Black. Like the soot-caked lungs of Congolese coal miners. Black. Like the icy waters that rocked the slave ships. Black. Like the blood-stained soil of plantations. Black. Like the berets that the Panthers donned. Black. Like the burnt cross in my great grandmotherâ€™s yard. Black. Like the pavement where Mike Brown laid slain. Black. Like the ink that stains these hands, aching to tell my story. My skin is Black . â€“ Chala Tshitundu
Valerie Reynoso | Pencil and marker on paper (digitized)
By Pola Dobrzynski I
can remember always being good at picking up languages. Having two parents who are immigrants
meant that the English I heard was always tempered with the guttural inflections of Polish and the warm, fluid timbres of Spanish; I essentially became a parrot to my parentsâ€™ prose. Though I was fortunate enough to hear both of my parents speak wistfully in their native tongues, I especially cherished hearing my mom. The lively Spanish sounds would echo through the house as she chatted away on the phone or on Skype. It was routine for my mother to try to get me to recite a Spanish phrase or sing a 8
Argentina to visit for the first time in years. That was the summer of Español, and every day my sister and I could be found studying a new lesson in vocabulary or grammar. Though my mother is trained to teach Spanish, each day was met with a different frustration that often ended in my sister and being at the mercy of some unconventional teaching techniques. Even so, I loved it. I thrive in environments in which I can absorb gobs of information and showcase my ability. Spanish was starting to feel like a sanctuary for my tongue, a place I could go to get away for a while—free from the exposure of English. It was my own secret way of expressing myself.
Though my first time in Argentina was
nothing but welcoming and full of people desong in her own language for her to show off to her friends and my family. Every time the home video camera was brought out to make videos that would be sent overseas, my sisters and I would wave to the camera and say hello to our extended family in a language not our own.
As I got older, my relationship with the
Spanish language grew more complex. I distinctly remember the moment we received the news that my mom would be able to return to
lighted at the mere fact that I was at least trying to speak Spanish, I could not help but feel inadequate. My Spanish was so obviously imperfect. I longed to be able to speak with the same ease as my family. But my rr’s got caught in my throat as my tongue twisted and stumbled along the unfamiliar words and sounds. Though my Latina heritage has always been at the forefront of my identity, the Spanish language grew to be an increasingly large roadblock in my relationship to that aspect of myself.
As I got older, it only got worse. Although
there were occasions when my mother would Illustration by Pola Dobrzynski
invite me to practice my Spanish with her, I
them, to demonstrate, to say something. I was
grew discouraged with her corrections of my too insecure, afraid to even try. My Spanish congrammar and pronunciation. This was compli-
tinued to go untouched, slowly corroding as my
cated by my atypical command of the English mouth stiffened to the fluency of the language. language. Phrases I had heard my parents use
The source of this anxiety was
and articulations I had learned from them were were apparently hilarious, and common jokes among my friends. Too often I heard my parents’ accents being made fun of, while white European accents were constantly
“Maybe I’m just being defensive because I’m afraid that my rusty Japanese is a broken chain in the link that can’t hold my lineage together. I’m afraid of passing down my lack of language to my children and their Grandpa’s accent will sound more foreigner than family. I am selfish, writing poems and poems and poems about Japan when my name is the only word I know how to write in Japanese”. – George Masao Yamazawa, “The Bridge”
At that point, I was finally aware of the
stumbled on the spoken word of slam poet George Masao Yamazawa, who
ly communicated the complex children of English language learners face in his poem “The Bridge”.
expressed in this poem really helped me take
never-ending dichotomy of having a diverse steps to try and overcome it. Starting with the background. Never gaining access to one group
acknowledgement that my Spanish is imper-
or the other, never being light enough or dark fect: it’s clumsy and that is okay. It is as much enough, always being considered a fraud by both as part of my Latina identity as the brownness sides. I became more and more out of touch with
of my features or the curve of my hips. Span-
Spanish as words and phrases I had once known
ish is something that unites all Latinx people,
so well were forgotten. That’s the thing about
something that few other minority groups can
languages, if you’re not immersed in it, con-
say. Though we are separated by geography and
stantly practicing and living it, it’s all too easy customs, you can always turn to another Latinx to let it escape.
and say Buenas.
I never knew the answer to the question
when people would ask me, “Do you speak Span-
Eventually, I hope to get to the point
where I can seamlessly blend in with other na-
ish?” Even though the answer has always been tive speakers, but for right now, I am no longer
“Yes,” I became terrified at the thought of peo-
ashamed to proudly speak the Spanish language,
ple inciting me, asking me to prove my ability to
regardless of how it sounds to my ears.•
Design by Lissa Deonarain
i have arrived in this world like a clump of Yellow pollen melting inside plastic flower-hearts a.w.a.i.t.i.n.g. the feed of honeybees risinâ€™ and fallinâ€™ with the echoing laughs of God i know the grueling sensation of losing yourself i have spread out my veins and strangled my desires until they have streamed off my shoulders exploding like rain i have squeezed my fists until my finger prints have branded my palms and i have cursed God for breaking me i cough up Yellow butterflies as the sun folds into the stars and i sing myself warm lullabies
Yellow by Doriana Markovitz
i am drifting above the clouds and above the sky i am drifting to other galaxies that are moving and spinning to their own timeless existence now i dance to my own Yellow creation and my very flesh has become a great poem 11
THE EFFECT OF COLLATERAL DAMAGE ON DISPLACED IRAQI-CANADIANS by Handsome Cowboy
I don’t want to cram my mouth full of crunchy, salty, sweet and wet. Swallow it down and cram it in again. I want to be comforted.
I don’t want have some nameless faceless man or woman or both or neither, rub me up and down, rub me soft and hard, rub me left and right until I let out a pitiful, empty shudder. I don’t want to ache until I have another. I want to be comforted. I don’t want to do shot after shot until my heart and mind have numbed enough to deal with all that clutter. I want to be comforted. I don’t want to be held hostage by a jealous lover 12
or an overprotective mother. I want to be comforted. I don’t want to be at a party where everyone moves from one room to the next and then the next and the next, and then to another place altogether. I want to be comforted.
I will be comforted. I want to melt like butter and pass through every conceivable crack and valley, making all my obstacles sweeter, and softer, and savouring the seductive dance that was mine at birth. I want to know what I have, and realize it is already enough. I want to be confident and unwavering in my belief that there is more coming. I will be comforted.
I don’t want to go to the club and eat so many drugs that my body seizes up and I can do nothing more than stutter, heart straining, face drained of all its colour. I will breathe in, I want to be comforted. and in my chest there is a green, rich, thick carpet of translucent new grass and I don’t want to spend years, and minutes, budding flowers uncurling towards the and days and months, and years, sun, isolated and focused and with every breath I take they tremmalnourished and hung-over, ble and shimmer up and down, back and ingesting, and perfecting, forth, every chapter of every book, as natural as the breeze, from cover to cover. flowing in, and flowing out. Trying to make something of myself Broken Parents’ dreams another notch in Rich my belt thick dismembered aunts & uncles wailing on green; the shelf thriving and lush; all the angels out on vay-cay and no one here to help. fresh, new, No. and unseen. I want to be comforted. Comfort me, and you will see what I I want to lean back into the sturdy emmean. brace of a man or woman or both or neither I want our souls to morph into a pigeon or a dove or a blue grey woodpecker, Off into the sky we flutter, totally separate but always together; Design by Becca Charin
REASONS WH I. ME (AS A SELF HATING AGORAPHOBE) I am addicted to being touched because I’ve been conditioned to equate being fucked with being loved. put your mouth on my clit and i’ll probably fall in love with you WAIT NO don’t do that catching feelings is TABOO yet here i am using sex as a self defense mechanism for receiving love and warmth and affection to make up for a life filled with abuse and neglect, i am soft, self-destructively trying to convince myself that i’ll be okay soon because rejection is nothing new, i am lost... did everything become more beautiful when you let go of the idea of feeling anything at all? because everything i could possibly feel is everything that’s wrong with me.
YOU WANTED TO FUCK, NOT FEEL YOU WANTED TO FUCK, NOT FEEL
YOU WANTED TO FUCK, NOT FEEL
HY WE FUCK II. ME WITH YOU (AS SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T BELIEVE SHE CAN BE LOVED) I wish you would stop saying i’m your friend because we both know the moment you’re done with my body, i’m never gonna hear from you again. i know i’m not the girl that guys want more from and eventually you’ll grow sick of me. but that’s okay. you’ve seen me naked but you haven’t seen me. so i’m just gonna let you fuck me and maybe if i’m lucky you’ll hold me for a bit and i’ll pretend that i am loved...
I AM NOT VERY LUCKY I AM NOT VERY LUCKY
I AM NOT VERY LUCKY
by saeeda 15
Hunger | Karthika Solai | 16 x 20 | Oil on Canvas
What Are You? What are you? they asked, and she replied: I am whatever you want me to be. When you look at me and you see skin tinged the color of clay I know you see that you can mold me into any shape you like. So go ahead, grasp me and twist me until I fit the image you see in your head. But be warned, once I come out of the fire I will be hard and brittle. I will break under pressure, and you will be responsible. – Lucie Pereira
Untitled I wrote a love song to my skin and when I woke up my face was flared red. My face, after cooling off some responded to my song and told me to stop trying so hard. So I wrote a love song to my hair and woke up with a steaming hot pillow covered in what my lover left me, a dismantled wig torn from my head. I never dare to share any appreciation for myself I think my body knows I’m lying and it’s begging me to just look away from my mirror and laugh. Because now I’m covered in this raspberry rash, bald head gleaming and I’m not any happier with or without myself. – Rija Rehan 17
by Meg Mowery
I never thought it was odd how my sister and I looked completely different from the rest of my family. The first time I realized that “one of these is not like the others” was when I was about six years old. We went out to watch my dad in one of his amateur car races, but we didn’t go with him into the trailer like usual. For the first time, we watched him race from the stands. That’s when I experienced my first racial slur. Someone in the crowd was wondering what these “dirty Mexicans” were doing at the race. I didn’t understand what he meant, or even really the concept of ethnicity at the time, but I did realize that the man didn’t sound very nice. My mom said something in Spanish and we took our seats. We never talked about it after that. Fast forward to middle school: after multiple occasions of being the only person of color in a town (we regularly visited in West Virginia), I was suddenly immersed in the most diverse middle school in the county. A lot of my friends came from different backgrounds, bringing and sharing foods with me that I’d never seen before. People were constantly asking me what I was. Obviously human and, somewhat less obviously, a chick (I had a very long period where I just wore one hoodie that completely hid all feminine curves). I knew they meant ethnicity, but I used sarcasm and being a smartass to both deflect potential pals and prompt self-reflection. Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer. If people really bugged me about it, sometimes bringing my last 18
name into question, I’d just say I was German. To be fair though, my dad’s mom is from Germany. But I was just as puzzled as they were when I said that. That summer, I ended up asking my mom that same question. During an argument, she had said something that went along the lines of “ever since
“Like wasabi mashed potatoes, I’m a concoction of all kinds of cultures.” we got you,” and I had to ask her to elaborate. She told me I was adopted, and a lot of other things I didn’t want to hear. I went to my room and slept for a long time. When I woke up, I was even further away from knowing the answer to the question I got asked pretty frequently. After I took a shower and read one or two articles about how to react, I decided to ignore what she said and pretend to go on with my regular routine. I couldn’t though.
Illustration by Taylor Roberts
I wanted to ask her a bunch of questions about my biological parents, ask her where they were from and how old they were, ask her why they didn’t want me. Eventually my sister came into my room and talked to me. She explained how they were teenagers and they were doing what was best for me. Then she explained how my dad was Mexican and my mom was Puerto Rican. Now I had my answer to the question for the first time. But what did it mean? I told my closest pals, who both happened to be Mexican. They decided to show me the ins and out of the culture I recently discovered I was a part of. We watched Selena and drank Jarritos. While I appreciate both of those things, I don’t think it suddenly qualifies me as an expert on Mexican culture. My mom is Puerto Rican, and so was (is?) my biological mother. I didn’t have too many questions about what that meant because I had already grown up embracing that culture. My dad is just a regular old white dude who loves NASCAR, wears those white New Balance “go-fasters” (aka sneakers) and thinks the chicken at Chipotle is “pretty spicy.” I grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and kettle-cooked chips with him. So now, the question remains: What am I? I relate to the Hispanic mom memes and the white dad joke pages on Tumblr, but I have Mexican blood too. Could it be as simple as having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some refried beans and maicena on the side? I’m still not sure. • 19
THE MODEL MINORITY REALITY by Cindy Trinh
Cindy Trinh Photography | Photojournalist Cindy Trinh is a photographer and photojournalist with a passion for art and social justice. Born in Southern California, Trinh is a first-generation VietnameseAmerican currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. Her photo essay “The Model Minority Reality” captures Asian-Americans working in low-wage service jobs in New York and the struggle of an immigrant population to surviving in a big city. The essay aims to combat the stereotype that Asians are the model minority—the concept that all Asians are educated, successful, and hold professional jobs. It has been featured by .Mic, The New York Daily News, Epoch Times, Hyphen Magazine, Angry Asian Man, and The Indypendent. Trinh is also the creator of the blog “Activists of New York,” a documentary photo project about activism, protests, and social justice movements in New York City surrounding the issues of racism, income inequality, LGBT rights, women’s rights, housing rights, workers rights, and much more. A selection of her work is currently exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York.
Design by Vivien Liu
Where Do I Bel
It’s summertime in the Bay Area. I’m lying on the grass in shorts and a tank top, under the warmth and familiarity of the California sun. I see kids riding their bikes down the street, parents pulling out of their driveways, and teenagers walking up the hill to smoke. I’m surrounded by whiteness. In every school I’ve gone to and neighborhood I’ve lived in, I’m the only Brown person or one of very few. In the 30
beginning of every semester, people struggle with my first name and do not even attempt my last name. At school my peers ask, “When did you move to America?” and at home my parents say, “Don’t be like these American kids.” But I was born and raised here.
It’s summertime in Jaipur, where my
mom is from in India. I get off a plane after twenty hours of travel and step out onto the
long? By Anandita Choudhary Motherland. It’s 105 degrees and I have to cov- ories in the Bay Area, Boston, and beyond. er my legs and shoulders to be “modest,” but India is home. It’s where I have laughter-filled shades of brown cover the city streets and my sleepovers with cousins, where I ride in rickskin is home. My name is common and every- shaws and on the back of motorcycles, where I one can pronounce it. But I’m not really “from”
grow in my faith at magnificent Hindu temples,
here. All people see me as is an American girl.
where I learned Hindi from watching the latest
They ask me about America before I introduce Bollywood blockbusters in movie megaplexmyself and if I even eat Indian food over there
es, where I feel most connected to my culture,
and how much Hindi I can understand, strip- where I visit family and friends all across the ping me of my Brownness with every question state of Rajasthan. and dirty look. I come back to India every year
I’m from two different worlds. My Ameri-
to visit family, but I also yearn to be accepted can identity permeates my experience in India, among my own people.
Where do I really fit, if I fit anywhere at
all? Where do I belong?
and my Indian identity permeates my experience in America. It’s so difficult to maintain the two. When I attempt to speak Hindi my words
America is home. It’s where I got my adventur- sound like imitation to my ears rather than ous spirit from, where I learned how to drive,
mother tongue, and when I eat Indian dishes I
where I got lost with friends in cities but found sometimes choke on the masala. I used to be myself, where I will be voting for the first time,
embarrassed of my culture and my roots be-
where I go road-tripping and beaching during
cause of the way living in America made me
every season in California, where I make mem- feel about it. Design by Anandita Choudhary
These days I try to do everything to
of India every year. Maybe people and plac-
hold onto and protect what is constantly being
es shouldn’t determine my identity, but rath-
clawed away at, just as my parents have done
er moments. Moments of elation, sadness,
since coming to America twenty-four years
growth, and reflection are what make me who
ago. I didn’t start drinking chai until three years
I am and form my place in the world.
ago, and sometimes I indulge in four cups a day
when I’m home because I never knew before
to simplify it. I refuse to be othered by anyone.
that it’s so damn good. I ritualize the process
I have a right to every space I occupy. I don’t
of getting ready for pujas, dandias, and Indian
like to think there is a part of me in America
weddings, relishing in new outfits, bindis, and
and a part of me in India. I’m a whole person,
bangles. I no longer ask my parents if I can stay
and I carry the whole world within me. •
home when they go to the temple for religious holidays. I go and I take in everything I used to push away. The language is mine, the religion is mine, the culture is mine. No degree of assimilation can take it away from me. Where do I really belong? I live in the whitest neighborhood in San Jose and go to the whitest college in Boston, but visit the most culturally rich parts
My identity is complicated, but I refuse
Sunday nights, we would all sit at the table, The six of us. You and mommy at the ends. Your four children sandwiched in between. You would send me to my room For crying incessantly because I didn’t want to eat my peas. “Dans ma culture,” you would say, “On ne pleure pas.”
Dans Ma Culture by Chala Tshitundu
I was raised as your second son. We would tune up our bikes on weekends And ride them through the trees together. I would pedal so fast that I thought I was flying, Which turned into falling, which turned into crying. You would take me home and bandage me up. “Dans ma culture,” you would say, “On ne pleure pas.” When I would crawl into your bed at night, In tears because I was afraid of the Monsters that congregated under mine, You would tell that I had the same eyes As the most beautiful woman you met while still In Mbuji Mayi. I would turn to see her smile. “Dans ma culture,” you would say, “On ne pleure pas.” Melted snowflakes dampened my face As they lowered you into the ground. My eyes were red and dry. “Dans ma culture,” you would say, “On ne pleure pas.”
Secrets of the Sisterhood
by Taylor Carlington How do I bear children and know they will endure what I have? What is the price that I pay to live my life for me? Why does our culture praise “thickness” and
Why don’t they accept me? Why can’t I find peace with the sisterhood, the outsiders, or myself? Why do I have to pretend to be the carefree Brown girl when the weight of the world is
curves but only selective models of it?
Why are my stretch marks shameful?
Why can’t I be enough just being me?
What does this say about our own culture that we can’t accept every version of ourselves? What do I say when do when the purging and pills aren’t enough? What do I do when I can’t accept myself? How can I smile and laugh and act like everything is okay within the sisterhood when I’m still not accepted? When I’m rejected?
Who will love me if I can’t find love for myself, from my family, or my peers? Why does my mental instability have to be a “white people problem”? Why can’t you see this can’t be prayed away? Don’t you see that I’d change if I could but I can’t? Why do I have to pretend? Why I am I not Black enough for the sister-
What do I change when the things I love and
hood to finally accept me?
personality makes me too white for the sis-
Why do we pretend like our brothers are the
terhood and too Black to the outsiders? Why is it that when people tell me to “smile and be happy” I can’t?
only ones being shot down? Why can’t we talk about the fear that I have walking alone at night? Why is my sexuality viewed as lesser and sinful? Why do I have to cry at night and ignore the
Why can’t you
pain in the morning?
all accept that
Why am I seen as a fetish, an object incapable
there is some-
thing wrong and
When will I be accepted? Not by the outsiders
we can’t ignore it
but my own kind, my sisters?
Illustration by Lissa Deonarain
Valerie Reynoso | Pencil and marker on paper (digitized)
Slowly but surely, more and more people of color are making their way into TV shows. It’s nice to be able to watch a show and see that there are characters who look like me and my friends. As much as I appreciate that, I can’t seem to get too excited about it—and the reason is their names.
When I was younger, and not as
as they would grow up. Now these kids
comfortable with my identity as I am
get to grow up seeing and reading about
now, one of my biggest insecurities was
people who look like them, which is in-
always my name. Of all the things girls
credible. These kids get an opportunity
are made to feel insecure about, of all the
to learn to be comfortable with how they
things they get told is wrong with them,
look because they can see themselves
their name isn’t usually on that list. But
represented across various media plat-
growing up introducing myself as Anahita
forms, and while it’s still pretty dismal
Padmanabhan wasn’t always the easiest.
now, it is growing. It will get better, es-
When my friends and I would play games
pecially when our generation gets to be
where we would imagine ourselves as dif-
in charge of what is put out there. I have
ferent people, I always changed my name
faith in that.
to something with less syllables and a
pronunciation that didn’t usually take
ward a world that is inclusive of POC
three tries to get right. On TV, in movies
characters, TV shows need to stop white-
or books, no one ever had a name re-
washing characters to make them more
motely like mine. The people around me
relatable to white people. They need to
didn’t have names like mine except for
stop making characters more palatable
through our loss of culture, especial-
Even in more recent years, when
ly with something as important as their
some new little family members came
names. We have Rami Malek, who is
into the world, the first thing I would ask
Egyptian, playing Elliot on Mr. Robot. Or
my mom is what their names were. In-
Priyanka Chopra, who is a massive Bol-
stantly, I would think of how their teach-
lywood star, playing Alex on Quantico.
ers, their peers, their friends would mess
Or CeCe on New Girl, or Tom Haverford
up their name. I would think of nick-
in Parks and Recreation. Why are all these
names for them and imagine their lives
people of color, who could have beauti-
As we slowly make our way to-
A N A HITA
Y NAME ful names from their own cultures, not
the concern that others might not be able
allowed to? We live in a country where
to pronounce it, or might struggle to spell
there are people with names that are dif-
it. They gave me my name with love, with
ficult, so why is that so hard to reflect?
the belief that I can live up to its mean-
Why is it that when I introduce myself, I
ing. They didn’t name me for the com-
get blank stares? Why do I feel pressured
fort of others. If you are uncomfortable
to give them permission to call me Ana?
with saying my name, tough shit. It’s my
In The Big Bang Theory, we have Raj
name. It isn’t for you and your comfort.
who is actually given an Indian name. His
If you are scared you are going to say it
full name is Rajesh Ramayan Koothrap-
wrong, ask me how to say it right. Learn
pali, which honestly comes off more as a
how to say it. I can say your name, show
gag (the crazy long Indian name). Yes we
me the courtesy of saying my name right.
can have long names, but so can white
Give the respect my name deserves, as I
people. And just like white people can
do for you.
have short names, so can Indians. Our
long last names have meanings that are
Orange is the New Black star Uzo Aduba
beautiful. My last name signifies my god,
spoke about wanting to change her name
Vishnu, in Sanskrit. My first name means
when she was younger. She asked her
“graceful,” and it’s the name of the Per-
mother to call her Zoe, and her mother
sian goddess of water and war. My name
said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky,
holds power. It demands respect. It de-
Dostoyevsky, and Michelangelo, they can
serves to be said properly.
learn to say Uzomaka.” Yes, yes they can.
It has taken me nineteen years to
They can learn to say Uzomaka, and Aziz,
be proud of my name and I am not look-
and Priyanka, and Rami. They can learn.
ing back. My parents gave me this name,
And they will learn to say Anahita. •
In an interview with Seth Meyers,
not for the convenience of people who might say it. They didn’t name me with
PA DM A N A BH A N Design & Illustration by Becca Chairin
MY DADâ€™S HOUSE by Becca Chairin
y dad moved to his house in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 2002. I visited every summer from when I was seven years old until this past year. I spent such a large amount of time there, but I never truly considered it my home. Over the years, I started getting more involved with photography. Summer was a good time to explore this hobby, as I had so much time on my hands. What sparked my interest even more was that my dad also took up photography, and I learned a lot of my skills alongside him. He was constantly buying new cameras and lenses. He let me use anything I wanted and got me interested in photographing on analogue film. Our styles were definitely different; he would force my brother and I to pose for senior portrait-style pictures, while I preferred to take my camera out to explore various small towns.
Occasionally, I would be at home with a few exposures left on a roll, and he would be my most accessible subject. These photos of him were taken over a period of years, yet his unsuspecting and confused gaze remains the same. Looking back on these photos, they started to become my most cherished personal photos and less of the throw-away photos they were at first. Juxtaposed against the photos of him are photos from around his house, a place that has slowly become more familiar. My dad reminds me of home, and although his house does not quite feel like home, slowly, it has become one. His face and his presence is home, no matter where in the world I am. â€˘
Design by Lissa Deonarain
ODE TO GUYANA
I remember that July afternoon, beads cuddled the roundness of my neck, sweat dripped, dropped, dripp, drippety, dropped dripped along the indented parts of my spine as I reclined once more into a fetal position. Sunshine glossed the crease of my eyelids, then moved like a spotlight over my porous skin, prancing from my navel to my feet only to stop at the places I shake and whine the most. I’m soaked in Guyanese flavor, in love with its spice, addicted to its purple drank acclimated to the tempos and beats, that make Caribbean cells sway and smile release its endorphins my mind relaxes in the fermented heat, Each collagen within me braids itself using the only Guyanese matriarchy I know strong, curvaceous, industrious women who bore me. I was soon painted with a Guyanese glow,
the one that glistens, shimmers with its own natural primer, the one that says “ I know I look good” and “you look good too” I lift up my shirt, midsection breathes in a brief moment of cool air, perspiration dresses me like I’m her mannequin and I want to get up but the soft sheets stick HOT, sweat drip, drop, drip, drippety, drop drip.
I lie still while the paint continues: jewels transformed the plain shirt into a metallic corset, amber and gold fashion my waist, a majestic headset transforms my kinky hair to a naptural goddess curls overtake, show forth beauty, Paint moves down my legs when... ARNELLEEE Ear follicles perk up at the vibration of my name her feet mimics a wavelength weathered by time Mother enters my imagined space, starts washing my eccentric paint off Reminds me with one look, the way my ancestors are set up: She didn’t just lie on her back I saw a thousand eyes before her who didn’t take no for an answer, who didn’t bow down to male authority because unlike them we never become infertile innovation defines us Mother finally blinks, careful not to let one exhausted tear Drip, drop , dripp, drippety drop, Drip as my grandma’s teeth fall into a half-cup of medicated liquid, floating, floating, floating like the Diaspora boat that took her here 87 and still strong. My Guyanese matriarch is more than a carnival, more than a vacation spot more than food consumed, more than aesthetics appropriated It’s our heaven that went through a bit of hell to get me here, To get You here
– Arnelle Williams 47
Safe & Sound | Noella Deonarain | 8.5 x 11 | Pencil on paper
Soft sound I lie on my side My eyes trace what I see Facing the glow Remove the blue Dull the sound of soft breaths Do not disturb The outside and inside must be still Quiet Brainwaves sync To what I see and hear I don’t want to think I did that earlier I’ll do some later I nestle closer Keep the sheets close Just one more episode.
– Maria Servellon
“Where is home?” is a question I find harder and harder to answer each time I get on a twenty-hour flight to my first home, Singapore. My relationship with Singapore is a complicated love story. I can list a hundred reasons why I despise it, but I can also list another hundred professing my love for it. No matter how many other cities I fall in love with, I always find myself coming home to Singapore—both physically and mentally. Every time I go back to my home base, half of me feels a special kind of comfort I can only find in familiar places. The other half of me feels a sense of displacement that aches for Boston’s spirit and the people I call my chosen family. Over time, home has become more of a feeling than a geographical location for me. It is where I find comfort. This series is a visual diary of all the memories of home I desperately want to hold onto, no matter how exciting or mundane. It’s a reminder of my roots and a place I’m still growing to love unconditionally.
Design by Lissa Deonarain
HOME хо╢ by Nydia Hartono
in defense of falling in love with a white boy by Liza Wagner
he told me to slip into something more comfortable so i undressed my flesh and revealed a skeleton between clenched fists and teeth, i tell him these bones, pale bones, used to crackle like a neglected fireplace, that every time I stepped through the threshold i felt the heat of my soul rise and then evaporate, that there was nothing beautiful about the pain and in a city of blank white pages, my skin was a coffee stain. so i’m sorry. i’m sorry for the nights i lay awake creaking, my limbs have not yet become acquainted with the skin they have been wearing
but against his pale canvas, i am warm beige and butterscotch. he sipped me slowly, lips trembling, on the rocks.
do you know the pain of a nation’s anthem tugging at your vertebrae? how do i stand up straight with a spine comprised of a language i can not speak? how does your heart palpitate when you don’t even know the color i may bleed? mom i wish you had taught love in tagalog if not in english
this one would not deprive me of the language i grew up with. would not prevent my children from tangling themselves in the roots of our people like he did this one prefers caramel constellations to the freckles of the sky, this one kneaded the knots in my throat so we could exhale serenity into the night this one embraced the pale bones and the olive skin that draped them this one zipped me up and told me to keep it all on
dad do not act like you do he is not on your team unsaturated complexion is not justification for trust and unity mom, do not be wary of this one 57
Written by Allison Hagan
I couldnâ€™t describe the most beautiful what that would be, but I can tell you a smelled. I could probably ramble on ab bursting out in tears over the fact that i spend all day staring into space, think
l thing I’ve ever seen. I have no idea about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever bout it for a solid three minutes before it’s a scent I’ll never know again. I could king about how much I miss Brooklyn.
that warm my face with effortless ease in the same way they did on that day. I know for sure that at some point My memory of it all starts off with a in the afternoon, my mom came back burning blue sky. It was one of those from work to pick me up. On that day, days where your body is confused as to like every time before and everytime afhow you’re freezing while the sunshine ter, I looked back at the stoop to see her bounces all around you. standing there, waving goodbye. I would When I say “it all,” I mean quite literally everything. There are two people look back until I couldn’t see her anymore every single time. in my first image of existence: her and I suppose we cling to the first me. things. • I wanted an ice pop that looked like Bubbles from The PowerPuff Girls. Blossom was my favorite of the trio, but I settled for Bubbles, even though her Dolor frozen dress would turn my tongue blue. I didn’t like the color blue too much be I hate the month of March. I’m not cause everyone in my family said it was fond of theater either. their favorite color and I wanted to be This wasn’t always so. I used to like different. July the best because of my birthday, but We made a deal— if I didn’t go I liked all the other months the same. I down the pole on the red jungle gym, I was in a theater program in high school. could have Bubbles. I got my dessert and I was spending a lot of time at rewe walked back to her house, hand in hearsal for the spring musical, In The hand. I tried to get her to take me to the Heights. I was just a chorus member, but I blue “big kid” part of the playground, but was only a sophomore so I had big plans she said I was too little. We walked past of moving up. the library and the old man who was al One afternoon when I wasn’t learnways selling paintings off of his stoop. A ing to salsa, she had a cold so we took her few melted drops stained my sleeve. grocery shopping. I was a bit shaken up The day was so bright and warm, by her condition, but I just said goodbye like her wide smile and serene eyes. and hoped she’d be better by the next When I recall it, I can still feel the intime. Even though she was under the nocence and complacency of the time. weather, she stayed out on the porch, It’s so much more vivid than any other waving until our beat-up minivan was memory I have of being a toddler. I can’t out of sight. be certain, but it seems like it was spring. I didn’t know that I would never see That’s the first thing I remember. her again. Everything that I remember stems from It’s 7:12 a.m. when my father tells that one moment in time, that one quiet me. I lay in my mom’s bed and listened to afternoon. I’m still chasing sunbeams the second side of the soundtrack until
about noon. I was back at rehearsal a few days later. While the rest of the cast will recall the upbeat and sincere nature of the show, I will remember sleepless nights, smeared eyeliner, and so much pain. Abuela is the one who dies. We were supposed to be sad during “Alabanza,” a song in her memory. My emotions were always far too real. It’s remarkable that I didn’t run out of tears. During the performance, you could find me backstage, tearing up at the lyric “Thank you for everything I know.” It was the last show I was ever a part of. •
Para Siempre People always say, “You’ll move on.” No, I will not move on, but I will move forward. Sometime after, maybe a year and half later, I took the bus to the house. I didn’t tell anyone where I was going so I could spend a minute picking the black paint off of the gate without question. I stayed in front of the house for a few moments, but I scurried off shortly after arrival in fear of recognition from the neighbors. As I walked away, my head naturally turned back to see an empty stoop. Afterwards, I went back to that same park, just a short walk away. It’s all so picturesque—a lovely house, a diner on the corner, a playground and library within blocks. I sat on the swings of the big jungle gym, like I had wanted so badly. I looked
at all the little kids driving their parents and grandparents and nannies crazy, pleading that they were big kids. I hope that when these kids scrape their knees, their loved ones dry their tears and have a Band-Aid on hand. I hope that they are allowed more than fifteen years together. The next September, the house was sold. I walked around the entire house ten times and took pictures of every corner in each of the empty rooms. I made sure every inhale was deep, cherishing the distinct scent of the house and the lovely lady who lived most of her life in it. We cleaned out her house and drove away. I only went back to the house a handful of times after she was gone, but I looked back every time, expecting her to be blessing my departure with a wave goodbye. If I were to go there now, I’d look back again. I will always long to see her there until that very last second. I think she was always in my sight, but I wasn’t looking close enough. If I had been, I would have seen it coming. Maybe the greatest loss of your life has nothing to do with Brooklyn or jungle gyms or honking taxicabs. Maybe the one you’ll miss forever is your brother or aunt or friend. Maybe the last memorable moment was in a school or a theater instead of a grocery store. Maybe you look a little longer at a stoplight or fire escapes rather than a stoop. Perhaps it actually is all the same; maybe you do hopelessly stare at the spot where your darling once stood. Maybe we all rely on the sensation of looking back towards yesterday, the streetlights guiding us home—glistening, glistening. •
Design by Alexandria Ellison
Bedroom | Karthika Solai | 16 x 20 | Oil on Canvas
C O L L A P S I N G On those late friday nights, coated in comforts, you begin to cry and so the ocean, sensing the flood parts its arms, opens its ears folds itself into oblivion and it makes room for you. you, remade of metaphors a curator of words that whispers to herself in the dead of the night. all that you know is that bad habits are contagious; spilling secrets down your spine, you quiver and you quiver toss, turn, tussle, break. (time is the most unforgiving of creators) bones decay the way atoms do you’d let him destroy you, if only he’d ask. –
Photo essay by Lissa Deonarain
Back in the day, I remember handing over my point-and-shoot camera countless times to a stranger after asking them to take a photo of my friends and me. They would snap a couple without flash, and a couple more with flash for safety, then would hand the camera back as my friends swarmed around me to see the results. Upon reviewing the photos, my heart would immediately drop along with my self-confidence. I thought that everyone else looked flawless…except for me. All I saw was how wide my nose was, my curly and frizzy hair, a slight double chin and my body looking wide and awkward with next to my skinny White friends. I was never really comfortable with myself growing up, so when I saw myself in candid pictures, I felt disgusted. I never said anything, because I’m a sucker for preserving memories. But I always wondered: would I ever be happy with a picture of myself? I practiced taking my own selfies in the privacy of the bathroom— mirror pics, PhotoBooth, the classic Myspace angle using my mom’s Canon Powershot. But it always took so much time to take the pictures, review them, and try again, unable to see what you were actually capturing. Then came the front-facing camera of the IPhone 4. Suddenly, you could see what you were taking a picture of, while you were actually taking it! It was a honestly revolutionary. Soon, fierce selfies started popping up all over the Internet.
People were proud of pictures of themselves. I started to notice that I was actually comfortable with these photos. I could find the most flattering angles, lighting and facial expressions. I no longer need the help of strangers to capture a picture of me and my friends. I didn’t have to stare fearfully at the lens, hoping the picture will turn out well. Selfies are empowering. Who cares if they are an “accurate” representation of what you look like? Who cares if you heavily edit them? As long as you are happy with it, it is all worth it. Because when every smartphone has a front-facing camera, it’s hard to resist taking pictures of yourself, especially when you look so damn good. So here’s to women of color showing off their perfection from their own perspective. •
Thank you to all the wonderful women who participated: Reva
“That’s the beauty of taking a selfie. You’re in control of your own photo’s destiny.” Design by Lissa Deonarain
We call red apples sagwas in Korean, a word that also means apology. We peel them as sunlight descends, “Hold the knife steady,” my mother says. I do not look at her face. I pick at grainy morsels instead, yellow flesh clinging to red skin. She inhales, “What do we tell the family?” before taking the oak handle, forcing the blade to pierce the red, adding pressure to create crumbling, soupy pulp. Juice sinks into her worn nail beds, dripping from burning cuticles. I say nothing. We both know she has tried to carve up my past. She wrings her hands after washing, as if she cannot remove enough. She says again, “I can’t tell them you’re like this.” She has not spoken for three days. She will not speak again for two weeks. I press my thumb against the apple’s taut skin, and water bleeds out, the wet glucose still intact. I say nothing.
After Coming Out by Carla Griffiths
by Alicia Walker
Once upon a time, long ago A happy ending lived within my soul You gave me some bad advice And that fairy tale dream was over Speculations Faced with reality Vulnerable girl Bought into your world Naive to believe That you and me Could ever be Something real I guess I falsely believed in a dream Trapped in this counterfeit routine A dream A dream I wanted to believe Believe in me... The relationship we built was long And completely cutting you off was hard You never wanted me the way I wanted you Nights spent believing that I was crazy To think that anyone could respect me Appreciate me Instead of using me Believe in me... When I canâ€™t see my own beauty Believe in meâ€Ś
Earth as Womb | Suzy Gonzalez | 3.7 x 6.2 | Pencil on paper, oil on canvas & digital ren
When I have a daughter, I know I will not be able to save her from the evils of the world. I know I will not be able to protect her from the cold-hearted men - the ones who crave the curves of her body instead of the intelligence of her mind. When I have a daughter, I will teach her to love her body. I will remind her that her brown skin is in no way inferior to the lighter skin of her friends. Alas, I fear that sometimes her mind will falter, and she will hate the colour she sees. When I have a daughter, I hope she will never be afraid to tell me who she loves. However, I know that she will hesitate and maybe never tell me, because she will be scared to receive backlash from society. And how do I know all of this? Because my mother loved me so much she would give her life for me, and even she was not successful in saving me from the evils of the world. I had to save myself.
Come to me for Comfort By Harman Kaur
Brooklyn Boy Who Can
Dance Dear BK boy who can dance, thank you for being the best dance partner for moving your hips in tune with hers, for paying attention to the way she whines, ticks, or drops, for learning, for mustering the courage to dance with her even as her unfamiliar eyes looked back at yours with uncertainty. BK boy who can dance, thank you for being part of her night, for showing up unannounced in the heat of summer backyard parties, and for somehow finessing your way to find her in between the shoes, legs, hips, backs, that all swarm, swing to the night’s favorite chunes
by Arnelle Williams
Once you found her, BK boy, and she liked the way you moved to dancehall and soca, thanks for respecting her body, for creating chemistry and letting it stay between you and her, y’all painted an amateur canvas, skin on skin contact, soft lotion of the back, hold of the hips, whine to the side, twerksum, gentleness, in sync Completely BK boy you smile close to her ear, she leans back on you Your arm muscles cover her stature, your breath cuddles her neck. Couple for the night, both thanking the moonlight for how much ya’ll love to dance Hearts racing, legs calling for a break, both whisper a prayer to change le beat. A wish is coincidently granted, a slow whine, tick tock, a Soca whine, move two steps. By now BK boy who can dance, she’s found a level of comfort in you. Relaxed muscles, no need to outperform, no need to please the other, she’s got you or is it the other way around? Young hearts cannot tell. Either way she is grateful, happy with generalizing BK boys know how to dance First time gazing into the other’s colored brown eyes, they tell each other so, thank you for a first impression, it will be memorable, perhaps unforgettable. Party done Shoes, legs, hips, backs, all swarm the streets of East Flatbush, Smell of jerk, curry, oxtail, sweat, West-Indian accents muddle Night air refreshes her thoughts as she walks home in bliss Sincerely, BK girl 75
NAPP TURA LITY
traditional African tribes, hairstyles were used to indicate a womanâ€™s marital status, age, religion, ethnic identity, wealth, and rank within the community. There was pride in carefully grooming hair, due to fragile afroÂtextures. Dense, thick, clean and neatly groomed hair was known to be highly admired and desired. The multiplicity of afroÂtextures allowed for a variety of designs and styles that pertained to the local cultural standards. Hair that was worn in its unstyled state gave the impression that the individual was filthy, mentally unstable or in mourning. With the advent of the European and American slave trade, Africans
who were forcibly removed from their home lands were confronted with their loss of identity. African women didn’t have the opportunity to style their hair or have native ingredients and tools to maintain it. As a result most women were forced to cut or cover their hair with rags to conceal their unstyled hair. After emancipation, Blacks in America began to either relax or use hot irons to straighten their afro textured hair in order to conform to European beauty standards and therefore survive. Civil Rights Movement then changed the way Blacks viewed their hair and themselves. Fro’s became a powerful political symbol that reflected the pride once had in their African ancestry. For others it was it was seen as a threatening symbol of militant resistance. Generation after generation, we still deal with these issues. Because of past history it’s ingrained in us what our hair should look like and we tend not to think of the political implications of our style. We’re continually caught in the middle of conforming to society but at the same time trying to embrace what is ours. Before slavery our hair was a way for us to represent our identity and culture. Experimenting with different modes of photography, appropriated images from family and digital imaging. I’m interested in making photographs that explore the complex history of African American hair and its legacy for current expressions of identity. •
Design by Vivien Liu
Photo Essay By CIDGY BOSSUET Website
H A I R BY DANIAH READDIE
My hair is big. Puffy, kinky, curly, wild, wonderful. So pillow soft I almost can’t blame the countless strange hands that gravitate forward to touch it. Almost. But I understand the desire. I twist and twirl my hair all day, mindlessly mostly. But in times of anxiety, my left hand levitates to my crowning glory. When I’m nervous, touching my hair helps to soothe my nerves. To touch my hair reminds me of the countless times growing up I was sat on the floor in front of my mother as she’d braid my hair. She would play in it, making funny hairstyles before she got down to business and gave me a style for school. While she was doing my hair, we’d watch I Love Lucy and laugh together. Or we’d talk. Well, she would talk and I would listen. Advice about school, money, or my future in general would be given. I’d listen intently as my usually fast paced, frantic mother would thoughtfully inform me on what she 80
thought I should do in scenarios that weren’t even on the horizon yet. Like what to do if my husband was bad with money. Ten-year-old me stored the information away for future use. When I touch my hair, I remember the time my grandmother got too reckless with the hot comb and burned off a patch of hair on the back of my head. I bawled, my head in my mother’s lap as she rubbed my head and told me she’d style it in a way that no one would even notice the shorter hair. She assured me it would grow back before I knew it. She was right. Like always. So when my anxious fingers find their way into my curls, all these memories come rushing back. I feel like my mom is behind me, playing in my hair and telling me that, whatever I’m nervous about, it’s temporary and I’ll get through it. My hair holds memories. It holds comfort. •
There is Something to be Said for You by Maya Gujral You will miss me like lemonade on the Fourth of July. I will be the soreness in the back of your throat, My absence will be unavoidable and secondary. There is something to be said for those who love you at 4 am. I will not stop missing your breathing, The absence of your rhythmic breaths next to me will shake me to my core. I will miss you like warm weather in January. There is something to be said for those you love falling asleep next to. When I think of you, I will think of going to the beach in April. The young spring breeze feels so close to perfect, You just have to give it time, give yourself time. There is something to be said for those who tell you to keep singing when youâ€™re horribly off key. When you think of me, I hope you think of ice-cold water in August. I hope you think of drinking, I hope you think of helping yourself. Help yourself. There is something to be said for those who are convinced you are not broken. When I miss you, it will feel like fire. The never-ending yearning for your hand in mine. I will miss you hungry; I will miss you like summer. There is something to be said for you. When I wake up, I will miss you like sleep. I will be able to do nothing but focus on how much I need you. It will seem impossible to function. I will keep going. There is something to be said for the look on my face when I see you. You were the first good thing I ever loved. You taught me how to breathe underwater. I never feel breathless anymore. You were the first thing I prayed to. There is something to be said for swimming with you. I am waiting for the catch in my voice, The break in the back of my throat. Saying goodbye is the noblest thing Iâ€™ve ever been able to do. There is something to be said for just meeting you.
Designs by Becca Chairin
TO ANYONE WHO FEELS LIKE THEY WANT TO TOUCH MY HAIR by Tayler Lord
Please Do Not Touch My Hair. I know it’s interesting and different; it’s new for me, too. I’ve only been rocking the natural curls for about a year and a half and learning the different curl patterns and magic of coconut oil has been exciting. I get that you feel a fascination with the otherness of my hair, but I think you are ignoring how that “otherness” extends to my person— skin color, face shape, family, history— You don’t see it, or you are ignoring it, or something, I don’t even know. Ignoring maybe that, as my hair is so closely and deeply tied to my (historically lack of) value as a non-white woman, it’s….awkward? (Maybe uncomfortable? I’ll say uncomfortable). It’s uncomfortable at best when you decide to run your hands through my hair, sans invitation. 82
Please, I spent a lot of time combing this baby afro out, shaping it exactly how I like, even foregoing the hat on this six-degrees-Fahrenheit evening so as to maintain the part, shape, height, etc. When you try to run your hands in it and through it, all my work is for naught. Iâ€™ll pop to the bathroom after this Petting Session to fluff and form and try to work it back to where it was, all while cursing my cold ears (woulda coulda shoulda worn the hat) and sudden silence.
You see, I just never know what to say! I kind of feel bad! Thereâ€™s no way you could know how fucking terrible it is for me to have two uninvited hands all up in there, separating each perfectly crafted curl in ways that they do not understand. But also we just spent fifteen minutes talking about how you feel bad about gentrification and what you as a young white woman can 83
do to help, and I can only think, GIRL! YOU COULD START BY NOT TOUCHING MY GOD DAMN HAIR! Your inability to see the individual, to understand the nuances of race and what it means to be non-white, down to the very specific and very sensitive issue of hair leads me to believe that you will subconsciously continue to gentrify every space that somehow isn’t occupied by your whiteness because you do not get it! You can’t do that, babe! You can’t pretend to care about a Black girl and in the same breath PET HER, keeping her in that othered, lower, lesser place that she has for so long tried to escape.
(I sometimes wonder if I should stay here, safe in my other place, next to other othered people who know how long a twist-out takes and that to put a g.d. hand in it is close to a cardinal sin….)
Like I said, I know it’s interesting. I know it’s damn near flawless, actually. But it’s mine. Someday if I’m feeling generous, I will find you a perfectly moisturized, springing curl and you can cop a little feel of the undeniable Black girl magic growing out of my head. But until that day comes, kindly Do Not Touch My Hair.
Design by Becca Chairin
Model: Taylor Jett
THE COMFORT SHOOT Directed by Indigo Asim Photography by Serena Koo & Vivien Liu Wardrobe by Indigo Asim, Taylor Carlington, & Rraine Hanson Makeup by Lissa Deonarain & Rija Rehan
Model: Anandita Choudhary
Model: Kala Slade Untitled - Chala Tshitundu (P) Untitled 1 - Valerie Reynoso (Art) Tongue Tied - Pola Dobrzynski (A) Yellow - Doriana Markovitz (P) The Effect of Collateral Damage on Displaced Iraqi-Canadians - Handsome Cowboy (P) Hunger - Karthika Solai (Art) Fusion - Megan Mowery (A) The Model Minority Reality - Cindy Trinh (PE) Secrets of the Sisterhood - Taylor Carlington (P) Say My Name - Anahita Padmanabhan (A) What Are You? - Lucie Pereira (P) Untitled - Rija Rehan (P) Where Do I Belong? - Anandita Choudhary (A) My Dadâ€™s House - Becca Chairin (PE) Ode to Guyana - Arnelle Williams (P) Safe & Sound - Noella Deonarain (Art) Two More - Maria Servellon (P) Home (?) - Nydia Hartono (PE) In Defense of Falling In Love With A White Boy - Liza Wagner (P) Untitled 2 - Valerie Reynoso (Art) After Coming Out - Carla Griffiths (P) Alabanza (A) Believe Me - Alicia Walker (P) Collapsing - Samantha Subaaharan (P) Self(ie) Confidence - Lissa Deonarain (PE) Brooklyn Boy Who Can Dance - Arnelle Williams (P) There is Something to Be Said for Them - Maya Gujral (P) Earth as Womb (Art) Come to Me for Comfort - Harman Kaur (P) The Comfort Shoot - Indigo Asim (PHOTOSHOOT) Hair - Daniah Readdie (A) Nappturality - Cidgy Bossuet (PE) To Anyone Who Feels Like They Want to Touch My Hair - Tayler Lord (P) Discomfort Playlist - Kala Slade Comfort Playlist - Rraine Hanson
Model: Kala Slade 89
Model: Amy Panitnan
Model: Peyton Dix
Model: Yasmine Hammoudi
Model: Chemdiya Reed
Model: Elisha Dumont
Model: Farrah Alturki 98
MESSINESS A Discomfort Playlist by Kala Slade
A list of songs ranging from the topics of sex to racism to mental health to not only promote deep thinking of the listener, but also force them into a discomfort as they reflect on things they may normally push to the back of their minds.
How Much A Dollar Cost - Kendrick Lamar Bedtime Story - Lonny Breaux (Frank Ocean) The Morning - The Weeknd Novacane - Frank Ocean Mansion Song - Kate Nash Don’t You Worry - Lucy Rose Dear Mr. President - P!nk Face Down - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus Lost - Chance the Rapper ft. Noname Gypsy Make It Stop - Rise Against Words I Never Said - Lupe Fiasco White Privilege 2 - Macklemore Hold On Till May - Pierce the Veil Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too - Say Anything Stan - Eminem Formation - Beyoncé All My Friends Are in Bar Bands - The Wonder Years Miserable At Best - Mayday Parade Swimming Pool - The Front Bottoms Remembering Sunday - All Time Low Bastard - Tyler, the Creator New Slaves - Kanye West
Backgrounds by suhojpg
Vibing w/ Bae A Comfort Playlist By Rraine Hanson
Fantasy - Alina Baraz & Galimatias Lost - Chance the Rapper About You - xxyyxx Hold Me - Phazz CloseTheDoor - marina ft. dylAn Jungle - Drake Col’ World - Zac Jone$ ft. Eva Girl - The Internet Nature Feels (Mash up) - Frank Ocean/ MGMT Velocity of Love - D-Pulse Ain’t No Woman Like The One I’ve Got J-Lah Rock With You - Michael Jackson Dance for You - Beyoncé Sex With Me - Rihanna Sweeterman (Remix) - Drake L$D - A$AP Rocky She - Tyler the Creator ft. Frank Ocean Your Love V2 - Willow Smith Give Me A Try - Sizzla Aidonia - Aidonia ft. Aisha Davis Controlla - Drake ft. Popcaan Turn Your Lights Down Low (Remix) Bob Marley & Lauryn Hill ft. 2pac Caretaker - Donnie Trumpet & the Social Experiment
photo by fhgalland
Flawless Brown ÂŠ 2016