COL OUR FULL issue #1
warning: content in this zine may be triggering
photography: Sumuyya Khader
CONTENTS 5 editors love letter 6-7 my relationship with my face 8-11 interview I 12 i search for faults in myself 13 you brought me here 14-15 friendship 16 breakfast in bed 17 abbie 18-19 interview II 20 white abbie 21 validation 22-23 friendship 24-25 final interview 26-27 i miss you/i hate you 28 iâ€™m tired of being your guilty pleasure 29 pros/cons 30-31 every guy i ever dated always been white 32-33 and then nothing
Contributors: Sumuyya Khader Michelle Houlston Interviewees: Anon x6 Jemima Caitlyn Pierre Natalie Denny Janaya Pickett Rachel A Verrence Yu Manar Khalid
My Relationship With My Face Ever since I can remember I have resented part of my face. The part that gives me vision and colour, sight and wonder. The part that allows me to view the world for all its aesthetic pleasures and gruesome blunders. The part that works with my nostrils to sense spring in bloom. The part that works with my ears so I can look out from Brooklyn Bridge to enjoy the noise and the movement of my favourite place. The city I conquered alone. The part of me that partnered with my legs to guide me around the city. The part of me that closes tight at night, so I can be fresh and ready to explore the following day. How can I be so cruel and so shallow to resent this part of my face? My eyes give away that I am Asian. There are a number of reasons why I have found it hard when it comes to my racial identity. I have grown up in a particularly white, working-class area of the UK. It felt easier not to draw attention to my differences (but
I cannot hide my eyes). The majority of my Malaysian family I do not know. And the members of my family I do know, our relationships have always been rather unconventional. I cannot speak Malay and when we used to visit when I was younger, I never enjoyed myself. If anything can perpetuate and add to the feeling of West is best it is travelling to the East with a dysfunctional family to spend a month feeling homesick. I realise now that dread I had towards visiting Malaysia only aided and abetted all the notions that being British, being white and being Western was so much better. It only helped me to internalise all the racist narratives that I had spewed at me for so long. My eyes play such a fundamental part to the relationship I have with myself and with my race because they are what give everything away. I was on the train from Liverpool to London when I wrote this. I sat
down, at my reserved window seat, which an Asian woman had stood up to let me into. After I adjusted myself, took off my coat and sat as comfortably as possible, the first thing she said to me was, “Sorry, my bag is rather large”. I noticed an Eastern accent. I replied, “Don’t worry, if the train isn’t so busy once it starts I might find another seat”. She smiled. I felt her looking at me. Then she said, “Where are you from?” I replied, “Liverpool but my mother is Malaysian.” I knew what was the real curiosity. “I see that you look a bit Asian, but you are very mixed”, she said. This was compliment. I could tell by her tone of voice. She continued, “I am from China, I have been visiting.” And so we spoke about her time in the UK and she asked me some more questions about myself, or
my face, or race. Because she was curious. So many seem to be. I know now that I am grown woman a lot of this type of curiosity is neither malicious or threatening. I know people - of all races - have been and will continue to be curious of what my “mix” is. Because now I am older I am exotic, with just the right amount of white. But when I was younger, I was mocked. The trauma of racism. My eyes are slanted and my skin is yellow. Now I hide behind false eyelashes. I am still insecure, but at least I am conscious. My relationship with my face is shaped by the narrative that being white and looking white is superior. Better. Beautiful.
When did you meet your partner and what’s the most memorable quality or moment that you remember from your first meeting? I met my partner upon an interview she was attending. The interview was set up in three different stages, I (as a campaign manager at the time) held part of the group interview with approx. six candidates about the ethics of the company. We conversed as a group with each other and myself about things they thought the company ought to address, in terms of global and local campaigns. The other candidates at the time were all about animal rights (clearly did their research on the company), however she (my partner) spoke of her involvement with her uni’s feminist society and the unjust treatment of women in the world we live. She was confident and enthusiastic which immediately drew me to her. Animals are all well and good but let’s talk about the real issues, I thought. She showed she actually cared and wanted to do something. Being a part of the punk community since my youth, I was very o fey with Feminism and all my comrades (male and female) were on the same page (along with my previous partners being involved in prominent activist movements) but it was odd to me to see such a “glam” girl to be so strong of opinion. Also intriguing being used to the “punk rock” or “hippy dippy” vibe to see such a stereotypical scouse girl wanting to be a part of an important movement. I thought I would never “judge a book by its cover” however when she arrived at the interview I suppose I deffo already had. More fool me. Anyway that moment she struck me as a bit of a hero amongst her peers..
How nervous were you for introducing your partner to your family? Were there any racial anxieties? I have a somewhat unconventional family, so I think that was at the forefront of my mind, rather than race, when it came to introducing my partner to my family. I am aware that me and my partner disagree on what necessarily constitutes racism, however my partner has never been disrespectful or outright racist (because he wouldn’t be my partner). He has however failed to recognise or agree when I have told him something is ingrained or institutional racism, but that did not affect meeting my family. I cannot blame him completely for failing to recognise subtle racism, because I feel the majority of people in my life - including some of my Asian family - often fail to recognise. Have you ever experienced first-hand racism? Yes. Especially when I was growing up in a predominantly white working-class area. My race was what set me a part and often what got picked out. I heard many racist slurs and mockery, including accents and pulling back of eyes. In a way, I internalised that racism and did prefer to identify with my “white side” or “British side”. I still experience racism now, although it is less obvious, but in a way, more hurtful because it is still there. I am still getting over the trauma of racism. I still have to remind myself that being Asian doesn’t make me ugly, less than or unworthy. I am still very conscious of my Asian features, in particular my slanted eyes. I am worried I will never be comfortable with my face.
Have you witnessed your partner experience first-hand racism?
No. From the two previous questions, do you feel that has an implication on your relationship? Why? How? I suppose my seemingly nonchalant attitude towards “old school” racism. I’m aware its wrong, I’m aware its dumb, I’m aware its bigoted, however I’m aware that old stupid folk are on the way out. Who cares what idiots think. They are idiots. And as heartless as it sounds they will be dead soon. Let’s talk about positive futures. Not bitter pasts. I’ve grown up with imbeciles all around me. I know what’s right and what’s wrong. So will everyone if we do not dwell on how awwwwwwful the past is. I like to make fun of it. To make stupid of the idiots. Our difference of opinion on this matter has certainly had effect on the relationship in terms of discussion. But not race. We have argued about PC matters and the likes. I am definitely more lenient when it comes to peoples speaking their minds. And I’m aware she certainly sits very far left. As do I, but let people have their say. Still, my partner’s race has never really had implications on our relationship but I understand it has had an effect on her political views.
photography: Sumuyya Khader
i search for faults in myself like i search for bruises on bananas, peaches and mangos cutting them in half and checking they're not spoilt inside you scooped faults out meticulously and presented them in front of me to feast on - jemima
you tell me you love me for my strong mind and soft pussy so i create an island out of your shape far away from any community that can pronounce the sounds that rest in my name. you brought me here and drew oceans along the way - jemima
photography: Caitlyn Pierre
breakfast in bed sheets and skin and the weight of Him just one more minute... wrapped in duvets and each other time is a distant buzz as the lights dance above our heads we've made our world inside this bed yet duty calls standing in slippers booties, to be more precise to take the edge off the perilous journey to the kitchen the rugged council edition terrain i wait as the floor freezes with every step he grinds his bones to make my bread oats and water honey too liquorice and peppermint tea he hates but makes for me I look at him and I'm full before I even take a taste
- Natalie Denny
1. C a n yo u d o a s h o r t in tr o d a n d a fu n fa u c ti o n (g e n d c t a b o u t yo u e r, a g e , r a c e r s e lf . No te th ; n a ti o n a li ty is w il l b e a n a n d e th n ic it o n y y, m o u s ). 2 . W h e n d id y o u m e e t y o u r p a r tn m o m e n t th a e r a n d w h a tâ€™ t yo u r e m e m s th e m o s t m b e r fr o m y o u e m o r a b le q u r fi r s t m e e ti a li ty o r ng? 3 . H av e y o u in tr o d u c e d y o u r p a r tn e r to y o u r fr ie n d s a n d / o r 4 . If n o t, fa m il y ? is th e r e a ny p a r ti c u la r r e a s o n w hy ? 5 . If s o , h ow n e r vo u s w e r e y o u fo r A n d w e r e th in tr o d u c in g e r e a ny is s u y o u r p a r tn e r e s r e g a r d in g to y o u r fr ie n r a c e th a t a ff ds? e c te d th is ? 6 . A d d it io n a ll fa m il y ? A g a in y, h o w n e r v o u s w e r e y o u fo r in tr o d u c w e r e th e r e a in g y o u r p a r ny r a c ia l a n x tn e r to y o u r ie ti e s ? 7. H av e y o u e v e r e x p e r ie n c e d fi r s t- h a n d r a c is m ? 8 . H av e y o u w it n e s s e d y o u r p a r tn e r e x p e r ie n c e fi r s t- h a n d r a c 9 . F r o m is m ? th e tw o p r e v io u s q u rel
in te r v ie w II I
u e s ti o n s , d o y o u fe e l th a t h a s a n im p li c a ti o n o n y o ur
10 . A s a n in te r r a c ia l c o u p le , h a s r a happened) a c is m to w a r d ffe c te d th e r s y o u r r e la ti e la ti o n s h ip ? e x a m p le o f w o n s h ip (i f it If it h a s h a p h e n s o m e th in has p e n e d a n d if g r a c is t h a s p o s s ib le , g iv b e e n a im e d e an d ir e c tl y a t y 11. D o y o u o u r r e la ti o n h av e / o r p la n s h ip . to h av e c h il d th a t y o u r c h r e n w it h y o u il d r e n w il l p r p a r tn e r ? A o s s ib ly fa c e (e s p e c ia ll y if r a c is m , c h a n n d d o e s th e y o u h av e n â€™t id e a ge yo u r p e r s fi r s t- h a n d e x p e c ti v e o n r a p e r ie n c e d it )? c is m 12 . W h e n w a s th e la s t ti m e y o u fe lt so mad. ang ry at rac is m ? A n d e x p la in w hy it g o t yo u 13 . W h e n w a s th e la s t ti m e y o u s to od up when s o m e o n e e ls 14 . H o w u e w a s b e in g n c o m fo r ta b le r a c is t? d o e s ta lk in g about race a n d r a c is m m Me and a k e y o u fe e l? my bo yf r iend do n t he que s â€™t f e e l co t i o n s. m fo r t a b l e answer i ng
la ti o n s h ip ? W hy ? H o w ?
Validation My ancestry is fragile Like a baby, Defenceless And almost didn’t happen. Yet my great grandparents’ eyes met And their parents’ too: Loves that stretch back As far as I can imagine. In whatever way they came up, Everything was against them: Time, the tide, their tan. Here I am By proxy of ghostly histories. Tales more spectacular And grizzly Than any Tolkien could muster; Of black heroes And goddesses And the darkness that worked against them, But never won Because here I am. Feeling a million years old, I nurse my daughter: That ancient practice Protected at great length By the light and lives That we now speak of in the past tense. Unbreakable codes, Unquestionable Strength. - Janaya Pickett
photography: Caitlyn Pierre
Do you have/or plan to have children with your partner face racism, change your perspective on racism (especi
r? And does the idea that your children will possibly ially if you havenâ€™t first-hand experienced it)?
How uncomfortable does talking about race and racism make you feel?
I hate you in the path I walk, I hate you in the trees, I hate you in the space of where your fingers used to be. I hate you in the grey concrete of where we stood and kissed, I hate you in the brand of cigarette you held between your lips. I hate you in your voice so deep that sunk into my bones. I hate you in the memories that will not fucking go. I hate you in the promises that you made and never kept. I hate you in your fingertips and the feelings that they left. I hate you in the summer months and I hate you in the rain. I hate you in my soul I swear, and iâ€™d do it all again.
I miss you in the silence. I miss you in the pain. I miss you when my thumbs begin to type your name. I miss you in your laugh so innocent and free. I miss you in the little things you used to do for me. I miss you in your hands that threaded through my hair. I miss you in the way you took away my air. I miss you in the lies I told myself at night - that even though you would never love me that that would be alright. - RachelA
I’m the song stuck in your head embarrassed that you play me on repeat. I, accidentally, came out your lips. The world mocked you for liking me. You played me down. “I know. It’s not that good.” It annoys you I’m so good. -I’m tired of being your guilty pleasure.
I alternate between her pros and my cons.
her pale skin. how she effortlessly walks strolls through life with no hesitiation. how she knows shes got something a little bit better. how she doesnt even want him but knows she got a hold on him. how she doesnt even have to try
my olive complexion. the way i walk around with my head down, with hesitation. the heavy weight and baggage of stereotypes i carry around with me. the mean comments ive held onto that build up my insecuritites. my lack of confidence. my fear of not being good enough that i try too hard.
I will never be her.
His name is Stephen; he was my first love. He was the only one that defended me when someone insulted me, especially with racist comments. The scariest moment I can remember was when Stephen was face to face with his dad, both with clenched fist. I was hiding upstairs, when they started again I peeped down the stairs, the scene I could see was both men having a stare down. Stephen’s mum was trying to get between them both. I felt guilty and a coward for hiding, but then I heard Stephen’s dad call me ‘a chinky slut’, and at that moment, as a 17-year-old, I felt exactly what he called me. Looking back now, I ask myself; why did I feel guilty and what did I do? Why didn’t they like me? I knew from the moment Stephen introduced me to his parents they didn’t like me, his mum was polite but his dad just grunted. Stephen never actually told me why. I only saw him twice a week, occasionally I would stay overnight and we would just sit in his room. We never
interacted with his parents. After the night he argued with his dad, I knew my relationship with Stephen would come to an end -I wasn’t that naive. I knew my relationship with Stephen wasn’t forever, I just didn’t realise it would end because I’m a ‘chinky slut’. I knew he had given up defending me, he said so himself; he needed a break. I don’t blame him. If you’re constantly getting questioned by your family and friends on your choice of partner, you would question yourself too; is that person worth all this trouble? I guess I’m not. It’s tough being a woman, it’s even tougher being a woman of colour. I’ve always known this but I brushed it aside, along with the sexist and racist jokes/comments because I don’t do emotional talk. I don’t talk about things that upsets me, I shut down so much over the years I hardly notice when someone makes a sly comment towards me. The only time I notice now is when my own family or friends point it out.
All that changed when comments are made directly towards my daughter. I knew it was time to open up. I have to learn to confront my fears. I don’t want my daughters to just brush it aside. The first incident and no doubt won’t be the last; Boy at play area: you’re China S: (looks confused) what? Boy: you’re China, from China S: you mean Chinese? Boy: you’re Chinese S: No! I’m half Malaysian and English (walks away). Boy follows and continue to say ‘you’re Chinese’ S: No! (Try to play and ignore the pest) Boy is not happy S isn’t replying; that she is ignoring him. What did that boy decide to do? He hit her, this boy didn’t get what he wanted so he hit my daughter.
to me straight away. We were in a public play area; I would no doubt approach the boy’s parents about his behaviour. I thought about the incident over and over again. I don’t have close Asian friends who are also parents themselves, so I can’t talk about issues we, as Asia parents, have to deal with.
My daughter continued to play, she didn’t tell me about this until later on, as you can imagine I was really upset. I told her next time to come
Our lips unlock. He stopped to tell me how soft my lips are. When I first met him online in him. But I was. I also didn’t think we would stop talking a couple weeks after that. We h the season was a reflection of us. We talk politics in November. How a mess the world is. because he called everyday or because he kissed my forehead and held back my hair. For okay, I tell myself. It’s okay to lose touch. It’s okay to never feel his warm skin against m
words and photography: Manar Khalid
late July, I didn’t think I would be sitting next to him in early September, let alone kissing have a small talk once in October about the change in weather. And then nothing. Maybe . And then nothing. I am to blame for getting ahead of myself, for thinking a boy likes me r letting his honey-sweet words mislead me. In December, I lose my fear of letting go. It’s my trembling fingers again. But he keeps coming back. It’s cold outside and I’m too tired.
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c e c x l r t t n o f o i
how dare you shatter me into a thousand pieces then label me as fragile
First issue of our black and white zine focused on love, loss and relationships created and for people of colour.