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:

Blkgrlswurld Autumn Edition 4.3 Now Online

She’s finally arrived, the latest edition can be found at the link below. This season’s book features artwork by Trifecta Studios and a short story we crafted during November’s National Novel Writing Month.

Later this week on Dec. 15th, we’ll be reading from the book & performing a bit of music in Brooklyn at Pioneer Works Book Shop. Details in the poster below.

See you in the pit! \m/

Edition 4.3 | December 2016 | View PDF Here


 

Making Simple Hardcover Books At Home

Making handmade books is a great way to present your work and we’ve found it a calming craft to keep our hands busy.

There are many traditional bookmaking styles out there to ensure your book or journal remains archival and well bound – standing the test of time. This tutorial will be a faster version, for folks who just need a quick journal. The pages won’t be stitched with some elaborate thread binding, this will be a single book signature with 1 knot tying the pages together at the seam.

Materials needed:

  1. Bone folder
  2. 10-15 sheets of your preferred paper (we just used some old French Paper Co. Samples)
  3. pH Neutral PVA Glue (reduces chances of the glue eating away at the paper over time)
  4. Paintbrush or Stippling Brush for gluing (remember to keep wet in a jar while working)
  5. Exacto Knife & Cutting Board
  6. Chip Board (Comes in various widths but the backs of old sketchbooks are usually fine)
  7. Pencil and Ruler for marking where to cut

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First, fold some sheets of 8.5 x11in paper in half, later on we’ll sew a bit of string in the folded seam to keep the pages together


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Cut down 2 pieces of chip board for the hardcover, this board is from the back of an old sketchbook- it should be at least a centimeter larger than the paper to protect the pages


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We’ll connect the two hardcovers together before adding the book-cloth, measure how wide the cloth should be by how it fits with the pages. We want about .5inches of the paper to touch the book-cloth the way an old Composition notebook might.


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Use the Bone folder to burnish out any air pockets from the PVA glue to make sure the cloth dries smoothly


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The sheets we use for the cover should be 1 inch or more longer than the board on all sides to fold around it (just about any paper works for bookmaking, it doesn’t have to be book-cloth)


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Glue down the outer cover first, then flip over to glue down each tab- slightly trimming the corner will help to make folding the tabs cleaner


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Example of the 2nd book having the tabs glued down


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When gluing, be sure to use the bone folder to remove any creases or air bubbles


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For a quick book like this we’re leaving out these tabs to glue onto the inner page seam-its a quick way to make sure the page signature is securely fitted into the hardcover


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There a few ways to secure the pages: putting down the inner pages first like this ensures the edges are even, but it may look uneven on the first page..


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The best way is to attach tabs on each side of the booklet.


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The seam with 2 tabs and a sewn knot in the signature.


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When gluing down the booklet we added glue to the tabs and the book-cloth all along the seam.


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After the booklet is glued down it is further secured by this additional layer of the inner cover sheets. it would take alot for these ages to fall out of this bind now.

Final step: Once the last bit of glue is secure, immediately stack your book in a safe, dry place and pile as many heavy flat items you can find to press the book down with weight. Leave the book pressed for at least 12hours. This will make sure the book cover and pages don’t buckle from the glue and everything dries flat.

I usually secure my books between sheets of chipboard and stack my macbook pro, along with big textbooks books and such on top for added weight. 😉

Annnnd you made it! Be sure to tag us on Instagram and share with us your progress-happy printing! @blkgrlswurld_zine

zines

Pushing Through The Pain for Trivium

When you’re as passionate about live music as I am, having an invisible illness can really put a damper on getting out to shows. That’s why it’s such a special moment when I find a band that’s worth the pain and hustle it can take to stand for hours in a hot and sweaty club theater surrounded by the moshing energy I enjoy.

I’ve been collecting Trivium albums since early 2005 and this Irving Plaza show was my first chance at seeing them live. I arrived early enough to catch some of Sabaton’s set and patiently waited for Trivium to begin. Slowly approaching my 30’s its become more difficult to stand still for hours in converse sneakers without getting a leg cramp. I’m all oooooold and shit w/ autoimmune drama 😦 ugh…Anyways,  after 30 minutes of standing around for band set up, the lights suddenly went low and the crowd started freaking out; prepping for circle pits etc. when I immediately I got one of the most painful Charlie Horses I’ve ever had. Shiiiiiiit..

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As one of my fav bands began to play, I stood there in excruciating pain trying to decide if walking towards the exit would make the injury worse. I attempted standing on one leg as still as possible in a sea of moshers (all that shoving helped prop me up) to wait and see if the pain would subside. Luckily after about 15 minutes, I was able to stand again and remember that I was at a fucking Trivium show for a reason. I looked at the crowd, looked at the band, peered back at the crowd again and decided to stay – they sounded Really good live and eventually i was able to leave the show without limping through east village.

I’m glad I stayed for the show because they were worth it, and if it had been any other band my ass would’ve immediately been in an Uber to home. These guys make me want to practice my mandolin more than ever and strive to be a better artist. \m/

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!

advice to young punks

advice to young punks, by Pinkiest
– you don’t need to have a jacket with patches
– or army boots
- or dyed hair or piercings or tattoos
– you definitely don’t need to be skinny, white, male, cis, or straight
– all you need to do is like punk music
- don’t bother pretending to like bands you don’t; you’ll either get into them or you won’t and either way that’s okay
– if someone knocks you over in the pit and doesn’t apologize, don’t be afraid to call that fucker out
– make friends in the line for shows, you meet cool people that way
– graffiti is fine, but don’t steal shit if you don’t need it
– only you get to decide if it’s punk, fuck what anyone else says
– it’s more than okay to listen to nicki minaj now and then
– don’t worry abt being embarrassing: you are, and that’s fine
– do yourself a favour and listen to more female fronted/poc bands
– don’t let white cis men in the scene tell you shit

Reblogged from http://youngerheart.co.vu/post/127628617567

Recap of the Primal Screams Punk Show in Times Square

Screaming Females, Priests, and Greg Fox’s Guardian Alien played energetic sets on March 15th, 2016  in AMC Empire in Times Square. Presented by Times Square Arts and Clocktower Productions and Clocktower Radio, this multimedia event was a fun celebration of the femme presence in DIY punk culture. Here are some photos of the zine fair and band performances.