Punk Fest & Zine Fair Recap

Holy shit!

My sister and I have been dreaming about the opportunity to host an event for a few years now. A community of Black womxn moshing for Black joy and Black lives. Beautiful brown bodies moving to crazy metal music under the bright heat of a summer day. Having fun without a care in the world, even if the sensation only lasted for a few brief moments.

#Blkgrlswurld’s first ever Punk Fest was an amazing event as I personally witnessed the coming together of all these womxn having different effects on people. I watched skeptical faces at the Punks of Color Panel suddenly realize that there was substance and cultural value to what panelists were sharing through personal stories. I watched young womxn curious about live metal shows seeking guidance on how to safely attend local shows. I witnessed femme musicians watching each other’s performances and museum visitors becoming inspired by the Free Black Women’s Library.

Nothing gets us more excited than creating C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y.

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In the Scene: Chris L.Terry Writer of Black Card: A Novel

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“Us Black girls are here, where the **** are you?!” Was our first screaming cry into the universe, and then #BLKGRLSWURLD
ZINE was born. Six years later we are still making zines, but we have also had the opportunity to meet and partner with other small press magazines, news organizations, punk festival organizers and creators in the scene. One such creator we would like to spotlight is Chris L. Terry, author of the freshly minted, Black Card: A Novel. Just recently released on August 13th, 2019, I recommend anyone who is interested in what it means to be a punk of color read this book. The main character of this novel ensnared me in a love hate relationship that reminded me of my own experiences growing up in a mostly Caucasian American midwestern town, right before we made that rallying cry. But identity isn’t just race. It’s geographical. It’s cultural, it’s gender. The book smacks you with how all of these attributes can play a part in not only shaping our own experiences, but our reactions to the worst circumstances.

I had the opportunity to interview Chris L. Terry about his newest novel and I am excited to have him participate in #BLKGRLSWURLD first ever Punks of Color Panel Talk this Friday September 27th, 2019 in Philadelphia, PA at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Don’t miss out on the chance to meet Chris L. Terry in person! On Thursday September 26th, 2019 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM Chris will be having a book talk and book signing at Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee and Books in Philadelphia too!

Chris graciously answered a TON of questions I had about the book. Below I have chosen my top 7 responses from our conversation.

How closely does the book follow your own personal experiences? Did you use any personal situations or memories in particular to guide your writing?

Black Card is fiction inspired by my experiences as a mixed-race black person in the early ‘00s Richmond, Virginia punk scene. The street names and emotions are real, but that’s about it. Before writing Black Card, I spent a few years writing essays about my black identity, and that gave me the perspective and tools to write this character in a way that felt honest. Also, I wanted to write about Richmond. It’s an unusual, inspiring and frustrating place and I spent my formative years there. Besides, there are enough books set in New York!

In the book we see that one of the main character’s goals is to attempt to regain his black card through a series of actions. How old were you when you first heard someone use the term, ‘black card?’ What was your relationship to the person who said it? Did your relationship with this person change at all after hearing them use this phrase?

I don’t remember when I first heard the term Black Card, but it’s always sounded like a tongue in cheek way of talking about something that’s dead serious: about if someone is being true to their community of oppressed people. It caught my attention because I didn’t feel secure enough in my black identity to joke about it, or to pull rank and talk about someone else’s Black Card.

My favorite Black Card memory happened maybe ten years ago when my boss/mentor joked that she was going to fire me and take away my Black Card if I didn’t get off my ass and watch Love Jones. In my head I was like, “Wait, I have a Black Card? Hell yeah!” 

I don’t love the idea of having to experience certain pop culture to be authentically black, but after devoting myself to punk as a teenager, I still feel like I’m playing catch-up on stuff I missed while bumping Fugazi. Now I know what someone means when they talk about that funk in their right thigh.

What made you decide to leave the main character unnamed? What an awesome writing style! What did you want to show the reader by doing this?

Thanks! I did it in tribute to Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, which also has an unnamed narrator. I’m simplifying here, but that book’s about how no one sees black people for who we are, they just project their own ideas about black people onto us, rendering us invisible as individuals. I was working in a similar space with Black Card, thinking about how being mixed-race can make you unusual-looking and how that gives people the need to categorize you. In Black Card, most of what happens to the narrator is because someone has made a decision about him based on their own prejudices. 

I loved the flashbacks to when the main character was growing up as a little boy. In the flashbacks we saw instances where the main character did not want to behave in a way that was predictable. Like when he cut class, or wanted to play his music louder than his father would have liked just because. I saw him going left instead of right just because he could, and making up his own mind. What is it about kids and not wanting to seem predictable? In some ways, almost striving to be different in the face of authority or even just their world. I could relate to that so much. Can you expand upon your own personal experiences with this growing up? 

Both as a kid and as a young adult, Black Card’s narrator is trying to carve out his own space in a hostile world. He’s trying to take control and, as he loses faith in the structures around him, he begins seeking alternatives. I think that part of maturing is finding a place where you can be yourself, so that you can spend time there getting to know yourself. That can be more complicated or layered for mixed-race people who might feel pulled in multiple directions.

In the book we saw that with everything happening, he never really sat down and took a moment to examine his feelings. He never took a moment to even just cry about what was happening to him, to release some of those emotions. That really moved me. Was this an important theme in the book?  

I wanted the narrator and his bandmates to all be closed-off, emotionally stunted men. And I wanted the narrator to start to understand that, as he starts checking his reactions to the serious things happening around him. It’s toxic masculinity that has guys telling jokes instead of sharing their feelings and it leaves them unable to deal with serious stuff. Chances are, a black person is going to be confronted with more serious shit sooner. White guys…they might be able to coast for longer.

I think that looking for emotional release is a big part of the book. The narrator’s trying to do it through music but it doesn’t quite work, then he winds up putting a burden on Mona by unloading during their first real conversation. 

When I think of punk, I think of a culture of rebellion, and often rejection of the mainstream. We see the main character taking solstice in this genre yet even still, somehow struggling to fully immerse himself in it as a minority. #blkgrlswurldzine has heard echoes of this experience in interviews with minorities running around NYC’s punk scene. I also saw in your bio, that just like the main character, you too have toured with different punk bands. In a genre that prides itself in accepting the underdog, how do you think they could improve their inclusivity?

I see punk as a subculture, not a counterculture, so I have the same suggestions for the punx that I have for society at large: listen more and believe others. For example, if someone who isn’t a straight/cis white man has a concern with the way things are going in the scene, hear them out, and remember that they’re bringing a new perspective to the conversation. You’ve probably got it easier than them, so take the time to empathize instead of minimizing their experiences. 

After reading your book, where does your audience go from here? What conversations are you hoping that they have or that this book will spark?

I hope that Black Card helps people to understand that racism is rarely as obvious as, like, someone wearing a KKK uniform and saying the n-word. It’s usually smaller stuff—microaggressions—that are harder to pinpoint, and that can feel minor and difficult to discuss on their own, but that create a toxic atmosphere that can feel like death by 1,000 cuts for people of color.    

Thank you Chris for the opportunity to interview you! Can’t wait to see you!

Upcoming Appearances:

Thursday September 26th, 2019Book Talk & Book Signing at Uncle Bobbies Coffee and Books from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM. Address: 5445 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Friday September 27th, 2019 #BLKGRLSWURLD Punks of Color Panel Talk from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Address: Tuttleman Auditorium, 118 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Black Card: A Novel

Want your own copy? Please find it here:

Pre-Order Our Summer Zine

Ahh, it’s crazy y’all. We tried a new printer this time and we are so pleased with the bright colors and glossy pics.

Only did a short run of 30 copies for now but we’ll probably print more for live events as the season kicks off. Keeping our prices under $10 for the youth so head over to Etsy to see the deets on this fun and fresh #blkgrlswurld zine 😘

NYC Feminist Zine Fest @ Barnard 3/7/18

Catch us tabling at the next NYC Feminist Zine Fest this March 😀
We’ll have new merch, zines, coloring books and stickers. (Gonna hide our own wallet to keep us from buying all the other cool things women have been making this season, lol.) I’m gonna go broke for sure!
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Saturday, March 7, 2015
12 – 6 PM
James Room, 4th Floor Barnard Hall
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“The Feminist Zine Fest showcases the work of artists and zine makers of all genders who identify on the feminist spectrum, and whose politics are reflected in their work. For the second consecutive year, Barnard proudly hosts the zine fest, welcoming approximately 40 zine-makers eager to share their work. Home of the renowned Barnard Zine Library, the College is the ideal site to feature some of the boldest, most original and creative examples of micropublishing. The event is coordinated by Barnard’s zine librarian Jenna Freedman, Jordan Alam ’13, and other zine makers, including Feminist Zine Fest cofounder Elvis Bakaitis, author and artist of the Homos in Herstory minicomics series. Free tables are available to zine-makers interested in exhibiting their work” https://feministzinefestnyc.wordpress.com/

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#blkgrlswurld, Risograph prints, 2017

#Blkgrlswurld featured in Tom Tom Magazine :D

Yassss! Tom Tom is a magazine for female drummers and musicians, and we’ve been featured in their 31st issue! It’s based in NYC and it does so much great work inspiring women musicians and kicking serious ass in the rock scene. We are so honored they took an interest in our Black Girls Dreaming Coloring Book and chose to feature a review of that work by writer, Lola Johnson. Thank you Tom Tom Mag 😀

You can order their latest issue Online HERE

Print versions are available across the nation in shops like Barnes and Nobel. Check out more of the funky femme talent they’ve been dishing at http://tomtommag.com/

The Acacia Strain Deliver A Properly Heavy Summer

If you ever catch us on Instagram, you’ll know we’ve been headbanging at the heaviest NYC metal shows all summer. Much of it having to do with saying goodbye to our fav venue, Webster Hall, set to close for the next 18 months and less likely to book heavy music when it reopens. Another safe haven for new metalbands lost to corporate takeovers, grr.

I’d been patiently waiting for east coast band, The Acacia Strain to finish up the Vans Warped Tour this year and bring on the jams to NYC, when I heard about a new album they were dropping in late June. Yassss. Idunno what it is about doomy metalcore music, but what I like most about their style are the playful moments in their songs when the time signatures get screwy and unpredictable. This doesn’t happen as often as say, a composition from The Dillinger Escape Plan, but I enjoy the surprise when Acacia Strain explores this.

 

I found their newest album, Gravebloom to be their most polished project so far. A quality to the recording and mastering that leaves previous works like Coma Witch sounding more scratchy unfinished somehow. Not that there’s anything wrong witha rougher sound but, its nice to hear an artist tightening up their craft and focusing on the best elements of their songwriting.

Nothing trumps hearing their songs live, but Gravebloom has some great moments – enough to be added to our #blkgrlswurld Spotify playlist.

Songs we enjoyed from this album include, “Bitter Pill”, “Abyssal Depths”, and “Cold Gloom.” They each have a churning heaviness in their rhythm, the sort that makes you wanna stomp around the mosh pit like some 100ft Godzilla…or you know, in your living room wearing pajamas while growling at your cat. For me, this sort of metal is cathartic, calming and allows me to rest. I realize others have more stimulating reactions, lol- the point is, The Acacia Strain’s latest work is quite satisfying and a great soundtrack for our summer in this big ‘ol city.

I look forward to catching them touring this live.

##blkgrlswurld

Zine Event June 27th @ Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Ahhh! Our fav Harlem spot to uncover Black history is hosting a zine event this week and we’ll have a table 😀 😀 😀 Tuesday, June 27, 2017, Zine Fair from 4-6pm followed by Panel Talk at 6:30 p.m.

We love every chance to expose young brown folks to alternative music and media that represents and validates our shared quirky, sometimes geeky interests. #PUNXSOFCOLOR

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Zines: Elaborate Disruption and Black Creativity

“The resurgence of zines—self-published limited-distribution works—is stemming the tide of erasure, disrupting publishing, and offering creative spaces for diverse voices within marginalized communities. Remembering zines like FIRE!!, created in 1926 and “devoted to the young negro artist,” author Steven G. Fullwood will join in conversation with contemporary zine creators Devin N. Morris (3 Dot Zine), Nontsikelelo Mutiti (Nontsi), Kevin Harry (KHzines), and Jermel Moody (maple:koyo) to elaborate on their zine-making practices and impact on publishing and creativity. The program will also feature a marketplace of zines selected in collaboration with Morris, Moody, and the Schomburg Shop.

FIRE!! contributors included Harlem Renaissance figures Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Aaron Douglas.

@SchomburgCenter #SchomburgZineFair

First come, first seated

For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. All registered seats are released 15 to 30 minutes before start time, so we recommend that you arrive early.”

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture | 515 Malcolm X Boulevard | New York, NY 10037

#heavygirlsloveheavymusic

 

Music, Zines & Riso Machines

Phew! We spent the 1st four months of this year printing and editing new work and now we’re ready to share it with you \m/ this is the 1st year my sibs and I have Really dug deeply into the purpose of the zine and what inspires us to keep it going. Up until this season, we’d usually only focus on the project 2-3 times a year for a few weeks, collecting drawings and writings from our sketchbooks and building something collaborative.  In January we heard about a Zine making/small press course at the School of Visual Arts and jumped in with both feet!

So What is a Risograph?

Well, you could term it one of those things that’s so mundane, its cool again. Risograph is a brand of digital duplicators manufactured from Japan since the 1980s. Intended for high volume office printing like Xerox machine were, they have mainly been marketed to law firms and city offices where 1000s of text heavy pages are printed daily.

Printmakers and designers have warmed up to these machines due to their archival ink quality and soft textures that can occur from the rice paper master (A fine stencil the ink passes through) the machine creates to duplicate files. With soy based inks and rice paper stencils, its quite the toxic free endeavor in comparison to the intense chemicals, varnishes and alcohols many of us have been managing in traditional printmaking processes.

The average riso machine usually only holds 2 ink colors at a time, so 4 color printing requires registering your prints and switching out ink tanks. At times its hard to imagine business folk in suits actually get this manual in an office but thats still its main function. LOL!

During my season at the SVA Riso Lab, I printed on various weights of paper and sticker sheets. Overall I found the process of editioning with these machines really fast and efficient, but at the same time lacking the monotype flexibility I’m able to accomplish during a screenprinting session. I gotta admit I missed getting a little dirty in the shop, but that’s my printmaker side I guess. Working with these machines in a clean environment created a medicinal setting. Where’s the screen emulsion, litho stone sander and liquid screen filler?

In dedicating a good few months to developing the zine at the School of Visual Arts Riso Lab, projects were difficult at times, and we uncovered the best parts of zine making. The Music! Our zine will always be a way to share our excitement for heavy music, we live it and breathe it from the way we dress, to the things we read, write and of course stream on our stereos. We are proud punks of color who cant help but talk your ear off about the latest bands and albums and we hope our readers get as geeked about this stuff as we do. For as long we rock to this music and mosh out at shows, there will be  zine. *See you in the pit!*

Upcoming Events Featuring Our Books:

#SummoningtheArchive Print Fest @ NYU |  Saturday, May 13th from 2-5pm at 20 Cooper Square. Details

BABZ Fair ( Bushwick Art Book & Zine Fair) | Friday, June 2, 7–9PM: by invitation only
Saturday, June 3, 1–7PM: free & open to the public
Sunday, June 4, 1–7PM: free & open to the public

Where:
Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Ave
Queens, New York 11378