"Serving as both an excursion and a discourse on im/migrant struggle, By Bodies of Water not only attempts to trace ethnic heritage and provide a voice to the émigré experience, but also seeks to disrupt Western thought on diasporic bodies. The text is completed by rich and detailed illustrations by Ravneet Sehmbi." -

By Bodies of Water is available on Amazon. Signed copies available on Etsy.

For more details, visit www.navk.ca/books

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This outfit was inspired by the Balmain Fall 2014 Ready-To-Wear Collection (x)

wearing: f21 croptop, vince camuto shoes, natasha necklace

makeup: smashbox photo ready illuminating primer, mac studio fluid fix nc42, buxom illuminator, nyx eyeshadow natural palette, nyx matte cream lipstain in copenhagen, anastasia beverly hills eyebrow pomade in dark brown, nyx matte bronzer, nars blush in liberte

photographed by gaby v.

PPW Q&A | DarkMatter and Movement Building

Photo By Nerdscarf Photography | Interview By Lissa Alicia 

DarkMatter is a femme, non-binary South Asian poetry duo based out of Brooklyn.

What advice do you have for young people who are struggling with gender identity, and may not have a fostering and understanding support system?

Young trans people, especially trans people of color, experience constant invalidation and erasure in the most intimate spheres of our lives.  We just want to extend love and affirmation for all the things young gender nonconforming and trans folks are doing to survive and thrive. There is no one way to be trans and everything you are experiencing is valid.

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Test Shots by Rog Walker.

Test Shots is an ongoing series of portraits taken in the studio with photography couple Rog and Bee Walker. Each photograph, taken mostly of their close friends and fellow creatives, is as striking as it is simple.

Opting for a sombre and dark background, coupled with poised and pensive subjects, Walker’s shots manage to maximize on the simplicity of the traditional portrait style by making use of a medium format camera that provides an image quality which, despite the powerful stillness of each individual, vividly brings the details of each photograph to life. This brings out both a sense of strength and vulnerability in each picture, alluding to the intimate two-way dialog between subject and photographer.

"This is the most organic method of communication I have. Photography is the way I speak…It doesn’t get more personal than another human, and that’s what I’m looking to capture, that connection between humanity." - Rog Walker

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Africans in India

On the Oppression of Diaspora Peoples

This is a bit off theme for this blog, but it needs to be said. There is not enough attention paid to the treatment of diasporas in Social Justice. I’m not just talking about Jews. I’m talking about the Romani, I’m talking about the various African diasporas, and, most specifically in this case, I’m talking about the Kurds.

The Kurds had their land conquered by the Ottomans, and when the Ottoman Empire collapsed after WWI, the Sykes-Picot agreement divided Kurdistan between four other countries, dividing the people and putting them under the rule of other countries. What has been done to them? Here are just three highly simplified examples.

1. Saddam Hussein gassed the Iraqi Kurds, killing thousands of them.

2. Turkey tried to destroy their ethnicity, forcing Kurds to be re-educated. When they refused, Turkey began violently attacking them. This led to the 30 year conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK, which lead to the deaths of tens of thousands of Kurds.

3. ISIS is murdering Kurds by the thousands RIGHT NOW.

I follow several Kurdish blogs. I see their posts. I see their frustration with the apathy their plight receives. I see more posts criticizing the fact that the US is supporting the Kurds than I do criticizing ISIS for killing them. This pattern reflects what I’ve seen with regards to anti-semitism, anti-romanism and other oppressions faced by diaspora peoples.

So just to express my point further, Diaspora peoples, IE people with no safe home country, tend to be treated as unwanted aliens in the countries where they live. Without a safe place to go back to, they are FORCED to live at the sufference of majority cultures that consider them outsiders. Diaspora peoples usually face three basic forms of destruction from the majority populations:

1. Forced assimilation. In the United States, for example, White Jews are offered conditional white privilege in exchange for assimilation. The more we abandon our Jewish identities, the less Jewish we look and act, the more easily we are accepted and given a piece of the White Privilege pie. This is not a violent extermination, but it is an attempt to destroy us as Jews. This is what Turkey attempted to do to the Kurds in a much less subtle fashion.

2. Expulsion. This is another common tactic. Diaspora peoples are not welcome and are driven out. This has happened to the Jews several times as well. England expelled its Jews in 1290. Spain expelled its Jews in 1492. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa expelled their Jews between the 1940s and the 1960s.

3. Annihilation. The Holocaust was an attempt to destroy two diaspora peoples by Nazi Germany. They wanted to conquer the “native” populations of Europe, but they sought to murder the Jews and Romani and were quite efficient in doing so in large part because the “native” populations of Europe were all too happy to stand by or collaborate when the landless peoples of the continent were being systematically exterminated. Nazism’s reach in that regard even stretched out to affect Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, through both direct and indirect means. 

The problem with the current SJ discourse is that it mostly views people in terms of two dichotomies: White/PoC and Colonized/Colonizer. Exiled peoples fail both dichotomies due to a lack of a land and due to the ethnic mixing that comes with being dispersed to many lands. Without the recognition for the kinds of oppression faced by diaspora populations, we are all too often ignored when we plead for help. 

In many cases, Diaspora peoples have not been allowed to exist as a people by the countries in which we live. And in those where we are it comes in the form of segregation be it the dhimmi status faced by Jews in many Muslim countries or the limitation of Russian Jews to living in the Pale of Settlement during the Czarist era where they lived in constant fear of pogroms.

These are the questions non-diaspora peoples need to ask themselves: who are the diaspora peoples living in our midsts? Are we treating them as equal citizens, unwanted guests or dangerous invaders? Are we forcing them to assimilate? Are we driving them away? Are we killing them? If we do drive them away, is there any good reason that we shouldn’t be held at least partially accountable for what they have to do to survive? 

A Brief History of Cumbia and its African Roots.

Like many dance and music styles that have emerged and have been popularized throughout Latin America, and in Latin American diaspora communities, Cumbia has its backbone and roots in the culture, traditions and practices of the enslaved Africans brought to this region of the world.

Although there are many forms of cumbia ranging from cumbia Peruana and cumbia Argentina, to cumbia Chilena and cumbia Mexicana (named after the respective countries they emerged from), the heart and origins of traditional cumbian music and culture lie mostly in Colombia’s Afro-Colombian community. Many musicians, dancers, and historians say that cumbia’s percussion represents the African influence, its melodies and use of the gaita or caña de millo (cane flute) represents the Native Colombian influence, and the dress represents the Spanish influence.

Birthed from a cultural style of music known as Folclor Colombiano (Colombian folklore music played by Afro-Colombian musicians), Cumbia has developed to become an amalgamation of musical and cultural blends that reflect the mixed cultural heritage of Colombia. The very word ‘cumbia’ is said to have come from the word "cumbé" which was (and continues to be) a dance form Guinea. In 17th century Colombia, enslaved Africans (mostly from West Africa) would carry out a type of courtship dance that, altered by various influences throughout the years, began being referred to as ‘cumbia’ in the 1800s.

Where it began using mostly West African percussion and vocal styles, Amerindian and Spanish instruments, clothing and other cultural traits, as it progressed began to become a more widepsread practice, new adapations of the original form of cumbia were birthed. Cumbia has since become reinvented in both style and sound, leading it become the backbone for various other Latin American music styles. 

(continue reading at Global Conversation, Discover Colombia, Grupo Fantasia)

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Mississippi Masala is probably not the first film dealing with India’s diaspora (in the movie’s case a double diaspora) but one amongst a clutch of much discussed diaspora films of the 1990s (X, X). It is also well documented on tumblr so the images are a bit superfluous. Except to say that Mina’s wardrobe is very much 1980s influenced “ethnic chic”, kind of a Gurjari in Greenwood aesthetic. With a dash of Janpath market (pic 3). It combines this with 1990s American fashions (that denim…) and a nod to Africa in some of the prints Mina’s parents wear as well as the African wax print furnishings in Mina’s room (pic 5).

On Being A Jew In The United States During Christmas Time

So Christmas seems to be coming earlier every year in the United States. I understand why, for retail purposes, they want to drive foot traffic to the stores. I understand that this is a majority Christian country. But honestly, this time of year is generally miserable for me until Christmas Eve because it’s a never-ending reminder that, whatever the First Amendment says, this is a Christian country. Getting condescending comments about Chanukah is about as much regard as we can hope to get through this time of year that does nothing but remind us that we are a minority that is only allowed to be here at the sufferance of Christians. 

Chanukah is a minor festival celebrating Jews not being assimilated by the Assyrian Greeks. It is not the Jewish Christmas. It is a holiday about clinging to Jewish Identity against seemingly insurmountable pressure from Goyim. So even though I find it profoundly condescending and hypocritical that Christians remember to wish us a Happy Chanukah and get angry at us when we refuse to work on the High Holidays, I find it oddly appropriate that Chanukah tends to come up around Christmas time. I don’t think there’s a time of year when where we need it more.

Black life isn’t devalued by police just here in the US. And the shooting death of Cláudia da Silva Ferreira and subsequent dragging of her body by police back in March is a gruesome example. During a “cleaning operation” by the #militarypolice in #Rio De Janeiro against drug trafficking, #Ferreira was hit by a stray police bullet, she was then placed in the trunk of a police van and while in route to the hospital, her body fell out of the vehicle twice and dragged for meters.(top left pic, sry for graphic image) This event cause a major uproar with protests, riots, and concerns about militarized police and racism…just as we’re seeing now in #Ferguson.
Cláudia was mistaken for a criminal but in reality she was a working mother of four children and 4 nieces and wife of over 20 years that she leaves behind.
Different language, different culture. Same history, same struggle. #diaspora

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Watch the Trailer for Kara Walker’s Upcoming Art Documentary Film “An Audience.”

This past summer, the landscape of New York City’s art scene forever changed and challenged by visual artist Kara Walker’sThe Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby… exhibition.

Consisting of a larger-than-life sugar-made nude Sphinx with a Mammie-like visage and other miniature sculptures, housed in a large Brooklyn warehouse (and a former Domino Sugar Factory), A Subtelely addressed the unsavory and often unspoken about history of sugar in America. Whether harvested by enslaved populations or used as a drug-like additive in our foods today, the image of sugar we see in the mainstream versus the behind-the-scenes realities of this multi-billion dollar industry could not be any more opposing.

Though it may seem at first that these contradictory elements are only subtly addressed in Walker’s work, upon closer inspection the complex layers of historical references become more and pronounced. From size to substance, everything about this creation is deliberate. Walker’s thoroughly researched and executed interpretation of this particular portion of American history through race, class and gender, forces us to both confront and reflect on our identities and the position we occupy in relation to these narratives. The 3D physical nature of the exhibition, and the monumental presence of the main figure, immediately forces viewers to interact with the sculptures using their bodies and senses. Most notably, however, in observing these responses, one particular tool that could arguably be deemed an extension of oneself, both in the physical and emotional sense, seemed to emerge as the most prominent mode of interaction: the cellphone. In the age of selfies, now, more than ever, the relationship between human beings and our picture-taking phones is more important and intimate than ever.

Using another medium to investigate these varied levels of interactions, Walker has released a trailer in anticipation of her almost 30-minute film that documents the reactions visitors had to her exhibition. In the film, Walker demonstrates that people were not simply visitors and observers, their mere presence made them participants in the exhibition, in a world created by a woman who represented much of what the this work embodied. Although the controversial nature of people’s interactions with her work have been documented in several articles, this film is pivotal as it once again restores the agency of Walker and her work

Watch a five minute clip of the video.

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