Where My Girls At: Meet Two of Ferguson’s Black Queer Activists 

“Amid national discussions of police brutality and systemic racism, Black women have been the loudest and most consistent voices demanding change.

In the summer of 2011, three Black queer women started the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death and the injustice that set his murderer, George Zimmerman, free. In a similar spirit, last summer three women from Ferguson founded Millennial Activists United (MAU), a social justice group that offers a new outlook on the young contemporary Black civil rights movement.

As Black women consistently face injustice, we’ve produced a steadfast capacity for resistance.  Ferguson residents Alexis Templeton, Brittany Ferrell, and Ashley Yates founded MAU in August and took to the streets of Ferguson immediately, quitting their jobs and leaving their lives behind as they pursued justice.  From Ruth Ellis to Lorraine Hansberry, Black, queer voices have been crucial to our historic understanding of Black resistance, yet are often hidden or underutilized. For the changemakers of MAU, their queer identities have been a major component of their activism: Ferrell and Templeton were married in December of 2014, just four months after they’d begun organizing.  

As a collective, MAU has organized over a dozen intergenerational actions with between 30 to 100 participants. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they occupied an upscale brunch restaurant in St. Louis—#BlackBrunchSTL was a modern take on a sit-in and was meant to make white brunch-goers feel a bit uncomfortable. Most recently, the group organized #BlackChurch, where the group stood outside several churches with signs like “Jesus questioned the status quo” and “Jesus was revolutionary.”  In February, members of MAU delivered the State of the Movement Address at the Creating Change conference in Denver, Colorado, where they used the moment to invite all Black trans activists to join them onstage, honoring their lives in solidarity.

Ashley Yates left the group over the winter, but I recently spoke with Ferrell and Templeton about their thoughts on continuing the movement, how they express and receive love, and the climate of Ferguson today.”

Read the interview with Ferrell and Templeton here

Photos by Aaron Banks

6

. GUESS WHICH ONE IS ME YO GUYS?  [tope] [the real me] Makeup and photoshop are fascinating things. I would never face contour on a daily basis, but it’s kind of find to do. I have way more and with lighting and angles- makeup, photoshop…you can be your very own sim.

It’s interesting.

I have more, they’re not up here. Smudged lipstick.  Anyway favourites? 

(2nd one is me, mostly unaltered)  ?


(i’m @espritfollet. insta: deenatephra)

Don’t forget, the open casting call is TODAY!

Are you an Aboriginal Actor? Our open casting call for 8 speaking roles will be held in Kahnawake TODAY (Tuesday, May 5th) from 4pm – 8pm at the KSCS Building. Can’t make it to Kahnawake? No problem! Auditions can also be self-taped and emailed by 8pm today (May 5).
Get all the info and download the scripts on our website: www.mohawkgirls.com/castingcall/

Birthplace

my mother gave birth
to me in an unfamiliar blizzard
she smelled of palm trees
and mumbled lullabies
under her breath when she held me
in her arms
her birthplace is my
birthplace
her Spanish sticks to my tongue
and my ears
and no matter where I go
I will always be seen as her birthplace
I will always be asked
where I am from
even though I am from
this country of the “free”
asked what languages
my tongue speaks
my mom’s broken English
will always tell me that
she loves me and
that I should be careful
in this country
that saw me for mother’s birthplace

Yvelisse Bonano

On Lit Mags, Payment, and Exposure

Not too long ago, I submitted an excerpt from a novel-in-progress to BLACKBERRY: a magazine, a place for the works of black women, and received a response to my submission yesterday morning. Much to my surprise, the email was not technically a rejection but rather an announcement: the founding publisher and editor, Alisha Sommer had to take a break because she’s trying to raise three young children while building up a strong readership for the magazine. When I read this letter, of course I knew where she was coming from, but I also was upset that she couldn’t get more help to offset the responsibilities.

Running a literary magazine isn’t easy, folks. Only three staff members, myself included help to keep Side B magazine afloat. Natasha, Nidya, and I are three women of color, in our early twenties, and working on other projects while conversing day in and day out about how to promote underrepresented voices as best as we can. Natasha and I briefly spoke about this last night and she told me this word for word:

“As a writer and publisher myself, I don’t expect to be paid for literary work. Not because I don’t believe my work is valuable, but because I know intimately how hard it is for literary magazines to make money. Would I like to get paid a little bit? Of course. I would love a few good coffees. But, knowing how little magazines make these days if anything, I accept fully that we’re all in this as a labour of love. 

This is a labor of love for all of us. Since we’re committed to sheer honesty for our readers, I’ll let you in on a secret: Side B is actually losing money. We pay for web hosting and the domain as well as the fees for putting together issues every other month. The worst part about it all is that we can’t pay our writers.

I follow quite a few writers on Twitter, both established and emerging, and the idea of “exposure” is almost universally condemned. I’m not one of those people. I’ve written for exposure and frankly, if it weren’t for those opportunities, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get published in big name places like The Guardian and BuzzFeed. Most of the writers who mock exposure have already been published in renowned publications so of course, it makes sense. When you make a name for yourself, you should accept what you deserve.

Now before, I would get annoyed and not understand why people won’t start small and move up but that’s because I was blindly unaware of my privilege. I can afford to work for free for publications that I believe in. I don’t mind spending a few dollars on submission fees for other literary journals. Many other aspiring writers can’t say the same which makes me feel even worse as a blog editor for having to tell a potential contributor that I can’t pay him/her.

The Side B team is considering brand partnerships. Voice and style tend to be big issues when these ideas come to the forefront; however, if done right, literary magazines can bring in some revenue. You can be paid and Natasha and I can get a few coffees and cups of jasmine green tea, respectively.

But I say all that to say this, being WoC in publishing is hard. Being WoC and running a literary magazine, whether by yourself or with others, is a tremendous task to carry. Yet despite all this, we love what we do and we appreciate all of your support.

If you have any questions, comments, or contributor pitches, by all means, email us. I respond (very, very) quickly. We want to expand our readership, build our contributor list, and most of all, strengthen our relationship with you all as much as possible.


Take care,


Morgan