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:

Blk Grl Summer Skincare Tips

Hi Lovelies! Have you ever found yourself combing through the skincare aisle of your local CVS or Walgreens store, unsure of where to start? Maybe you’ve even bought a couple of things only to find your skin breaking out or getting even dryer from these over the counter products.
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This post will cover the most common ingredients to avoid when looking for gentle and effective cleansers, moisturizers, and toners that are perfect for humid, sticky, summertime.

From there we will also look at light-wearing summer foundations/BB creams with SPF that are gentle on the skin.

Extra Dry/ Dry Combination Skin

I have some of the most sensitive and dry skin around – I know there must be others out there like me, there must be!

In fact I’m sensitive to the most common ingredients used to alleviate dry skin. These products might not break you out with acne or hives like they have to me, but if you’ve tried a cream or face mask only to discover redness, irritation or dry patches, you might be having a reaction to key ingredients like:

  • Glycerin  (A suspect any time a bottle is labeled “Super Hydrating” or “Extreme Moisture”
  • Aloe Vera
  • Silicone/Silicates
  • Mineral Oil
  • Nutty additives (Almond oil, macadamia oil, sunflower seed oil, etc.)
  • Wheat Germ (Gluten)
  • Acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide / salicylic acid
  • Chemical filter sunscreens with active ingredients like: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate.

There are products on the market that don’t have any of the ingredients listed above, but you’ll have to read every package to confirm. (Sephora clerks only know so much…)

So now that we know what to avoid, what the heck will work on our skin?

Gentle Cleansers

The Avene brand is a good place to start. Based is France with a focus on pure spring water as the active ingredient in most of its products. Avene has helped me restore my skin from months of mistakes in the sun and other allergic reactions.

Dove, Sensitive Skin Bar

Avene, Micellar Lotion Cleanser and Make-up Remover

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm is a satisfying way to rinse makeup off without drying out my skin.

*Remember to gently pat your skin dry with a clean cloth, and don’t use steaming hot water that expands pores.*

Spring water misting throughout the day helps keep skin hydrated and refreshes your makeup. Of course any brand of spring water works, I often carry bottled spring water in a little mist bottle. 

Toner

Clinique’s most gentle toners (1) and (2) are great for T-zone areas in the height of a sweaty, humid summer. Used twice a day with a cotton pad, it will expoliate those shiny areas without drying out the skin.

Clinque 3 Step Toners

Avene, Cleanance MAT. Mattifying Toner (Will bring down shine if you plan to apply make up after moisturizing.)

*Dry skin responds better to liquid based exfoliating blends rather than using face scrubs or brushes that irritate the skin and expand dry patches.*

Moisturizing and SPF Sun Protection

Black girls listen up, protecting your skin from the sun daily can reduce uneven discoloration and dark patches. Learn why mineral filter sunscreens are more gentle.

It’s true, most sunscreens leave a white chalky cast of product on darker skin (caused by its SPF active ingredient, Titanium Dioxide). One way around that is by combining your sunscreen with a smooth moisturizer like Clinique’s Moisture Surge Gel.

Clinique, Dramatically Different™ Hydrating Jelly

Neutrogena Sensitive Skin, Oil-Free Moisturizer

Light, open moisture for the body: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vaseline Intensive Care Body Lotion, Avocado, Jojoba Oil

BB Creams and Foundations w/ SPF

Summer is dewy makeup season, no point in caking on a bunch of product that will melt off on the subway.

Our fav BB creams this season not only match our caramel complexion, but also feature the safest mineral based sunscreen ingredients. (Seriously if you find yourself breaking out after 1 day in the sun, you’re using the wrong kind of sunscreen.)

Start with a Primer in the T-Zone to help secure the B.B. cream throughout a long day. We use a Cover FX one since majority of our cosmetics come from that brand.

bareMinerals COMPLEXION RESCUE™ Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30 

Clinique, Super City Block™ BB Liquid Compac SPF 50: Goes to the office with me for after 5pm touch ups as I skip further downtown for evening events in Manhattan.

*Everyone wants you to apply these with your hands but brushes or beauty sponges provide better control.

*Costs: Don’t buy a big bottle of anything before getting a smaller trail version first. You don’t want a $35 bottle of toner sitting around you can’t use.

Bonus Tip: Need a beat face for a special event? You can add a deep translucent setting powder to this routine and a setting spray (or spring water) to secure the look on those hot summer nights.
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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

 

The Problem with Shea Moisture

Brands still have a lot to learn about engaging on social media.

Its been about 24 hours since Shea Moisture, owned by Sundial Brands, got dragged through Twitter and Facebook for their poorly executed ad promoting the use of their hair care products on mainstream glossy and eurocentric hair types.

My interest is to take a closer look at their strategy to clean up the mistake since yesterday. It already appears they have gone to media outlets more so than the online customer base for setting the record straight. (FastCo, WashingtonPost, Huffpost) While they did release a detailed apology and pull the ad on Monday, the initial slap in the face continues to reverberate across the Internet, hitting Tumblr, Youtube and Instagram in waves of reaction and counter reaction from white women who use these products.

How does a company survive this sort of crisis when their products are specifically promoted online by both paid and unpaid supporters passionate about the brand and would never have grown this much in the past 10 years if not for the online natural hair community recommending the product line to all of their friends and followers?

Authenticity is critical to surviving the social media universe. If brands ever come across as superficial, insincere or manipulating, followers will pick up on it and drop them. Now, authenticity doesn’t always equal Truth. Sometimes a community will circle around an attitude or ideal, even if the content posted lacks any true data or fact.


Shea Moisture found itself caught up in ethnic erasure towards going mainstream when their actual follower base is a dedicated niche focused on validating the act of wearing natural African hair as a finished and complete hairstyle. Black women’s hair remains as political as ever, with thousands of us struggling to prove to our employers, families and partners that the hair growing naturally out of our head can stand on its own without the hyper use of chemicals or dyes to force it into European beauty standards.

So what now?

If Shea Moisture wants to survive this, they need to put up or shut up. Acknowledge and promote the unpaid bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram naturalistas who have supported them over the years and authentically show that Black women are a customer base they truly appreciate and will continue to support as they grow and expand to other markets. (Less talking more images, vids, podcasts, roundtables)

They need to connect 2 messages, that 1# They support and always will support healthy African hair care and 2# This is a global movement for healthy hair care for all women to be accepted for their non-traditional hair.

This sort of messaging transition has to take place in steps, and it won’t help to use the same blond models out of a John Frieda commercial to support a multi-ethnic community. The core base will not accept further erasure when they already feel that consistently from most beauty brands (from make up to lingerie, most companies don’t sell nude colors inclusive to Black consumers).

This is a chance for them to prove they want to globally validate coily, curly hair and the voices of WOC who rock it as beautiful and legitimate. But will they stand by Black women in more than just words? Let’s see how the drama shakes out in the coming weeks – can they turn this around?

*P.S. Just in case here’s a list of 20 Black owned hair care lines you can choose to support*

*P.P.S. Can I just say AS I AM is Really expensive? I want to try it but..damn! $$$*

#blkgrlswurld

NYC Women’s March & Other Nearby Events

I cannot wait to march this Saturday, Jan. 21st in NYC to stand up against the most dangerous political leadership of my generation.

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There are dozens of events going down around NYC to come together in resistance and to at least let these powers know that the people will be watching them very closely, and pushing back on the things that directly hurt our communities. Below are a few events we’ve heard about:

  • Women’s March NYC, Jan. 21st Saturday. People will be meeting at staggered times throughout the day so as not to exceed capacity.
    • From 11am-4pm we will march from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza to Trump Tower on 5th Ave. More info
  • Thursday, Jan. 19th. A protest outside Trump International Hotel in Columbus Circle planned by Michael Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Alec Baldwin is scheduled for 6 p.m. the night before the inauguration. More info
  • Also on Thursday, Jan. 19th will be an anti-fascism concert at Symphony Space on the upper west side, 96th and Broadway. Tix $30
    • An extraordinary evening of artistic passion, urgent commitment, hosted by five time Grammy winner Arturo O’Farrill, this live streamed concert takes place the night before the scheduled inauguration.
  • On Friday, Jan. 20 a march will take place at Foley Square at 5pm. NYC Stand Against Trump Rally and March. More Info
  • Other artists and cultural institutions are also coming together for a Jan. 20 Art Strike. They feature an online schedule of anti-inauguration activities in NYC taking place at institutions like the New School, Whitney Museum of American Art and CUNY.

Let’s join together and work together to create opportunities for everyone to have a voice and improve their lives.

penny-proud

 

Printie Printy ^^*

This summer we’ve set up a home studio to edition relief prints and screen prints at home. You can imagine the expense of renting studio time at a local NYC shop so it’s been fun trying to set up everything we need in our living room. Check out some of the surprises on Instagram 😂

DIY Quick tips: 

  1. Always have a bowl of water & sponge handy for spills of changing inks.
  2. Power washers for screens are overrated, proper screen are can be accomplished with a good soak in degreaser, sponges and a Magic Eraser. (For emulsion many things like bleach or simple green work but I’m shooting for toxic free printing and using only water soluble materials)
  3. Never let ink dry in the screen or on your relief block/linocut
  4. Pick a spot to dry your prints and don’t let anyone touch!