White Out: Erasure of the Black Lives Matter Panel and People of Color from the Brooklyn Zine Fest

My name is Jordan Alam and I was formerly the panel coordinator for the Brooklyn Zine Fest. I had to quit my position because the main organizers chose to remove a panel on Black Lives Matter zines, which communicated to me that black and brown voices were not valued in the space. Below is my experience.

I proposed 4 different panel topics for consideration – on intergenerational zine making, writing on uncomfortable topics, the prison industrial complex, and Black Lives Matter zines. As a non-black zinester of color with the opportunity to elevate black zinesters, I saw solidarity as giving them that space. After my proposal went out I was asked to join the two main organizers, both white people, for a meeting.

I prepared a list of potential panelists and topics of discussion. I brought the zine Black Women Matter as a way to show relevancy. But when we got to talking, it became clear that these documents would not move them. I was surprised at first, but my surprise quickly hardened into a stubborn discomfort as I saw where things were headed. They first struck out my idea for a panel featuring zinesters who write about incarceration or are in communication with incarcerated folks. They cited that they wanted to keep the panelists to the people who were tabling, which narrowed my options considerably.

The last panel we talked about was on Black Lives Matter zines; at that point I had not seen the full tablers list, but I was still pretty confident that there would be people who could speak on the movement. One of the main organizers said straight out to me that they consider this fest to be an apolitical zine fest, and that the language of my email made them feel that a Black Lives Matter panel would be too political. I could feel my heart pound as I made my arguments about the importance of this political moment. I had made very clear that this was the panel I was most invested in – in my head, I had resolved that if the panel did not happen, that I would quit being panel coordinator.

The coordinators also mentioned feeling unsafe because there had been an undercover cop at the Anonymity panel that I hosted the previous year, a fact I didn’t know until they told me at this meeting. I wasn’t sure why they brought this up – the most vulnerable people in that room would have been the speakers, especially those who talked about anti-police riots. Yet their panel was somehow seen as “apolitical” enough to be included in last year’s fest. I could only conclude that because the panel was composed of mostly light-skinned or white presenters that it passed the test. Finally, the organizers drew the connection that hosting a Black Lives Matter panel would invite potential violence by citing an unrelated incident at the 2013 Anarchist Book Fair (long before Black Lives Matter was a familiar movement).

By then I was doing all I could to hold it together and keep a professional tone; I was gripping the arm of my chair the entire time. I caught on a comment they said about having been criticized previously for hosting a mainly white zine fest: “they just didn’t know where to find the non-white zinesters.” I switched tactics to talk about how having this panel would help invite people of color in by showing that there is space for conversations that matter to them. The organizers didn’t bite. Instead they said if we “took the politics out of it” and made the panel “Black Zines Matter” – an appreciation event of black zinesters – that it could still go on. I left that meeting feeling tokenized and angry. I walked home from the museum, stumbling along in the snow. But I resolved that this compromise would allow me to at least shape it to my liking. I was hoping to change it to a #BlackBrilliance panel because that seemed at minimum less tokenizing (I had seen this hashtag being used on Twitter and it came from black folks themselves), even if it still felt problematic and complicated.

A week or so later, I realized I had made a mistake: I had double booked myself the day of the Brooklyn Zine Fest panels. I emailed both parties to see whether I could change around the dates, but it wasn’t possible – I would have to get moderators for at least some of the panels. However, the organizers took this as a moment of opportunity:

“So, since we won’t have you to run things like a well-oiled machine at BHS [Brooklyn Historical Society], we’d like to cut the number of panels down to two.  This will give us time to work with each of the panel moderators/leaders to make sure they’re set and comfortable, without having to pack too much into one day… Out of the ideas we’ve discussed, we really like the “How I Came to Zines / Generations of Zine Makers” and the “Writing About Uncomfortable Topics” the best.

You can guess which one they cut. I sent my resignation email a few days later and have not yet received any reply.

This was perhaps the least slick way that I have seen someone exclude black and brown voices from a conversation aside from direct removal. I am upset that I had to quit because I know that now there is virtually no chance for my community to be seen at the Brooklyn Zine Fest, but I refuse to work with people who keep narrowing my options to create space for black and brown experiences until they are non-existent. White DIY circles, no matter whether they perceive themselves as alternative, have made it clear that they do not see us, and that to them it undermines their work to have us appear as we are.
Too often, in both ‘traditional’ and ‘alternative’ creative spaces, the voices of people of color are excluded or must be made palatable to white audiences. In spaces where we make our own media, it is even more hurtful – zines are meant to be a form where we control how we are portrayed and are on topics that we care about. To be excluded yet again because our narratives make white people uncomfortable, and implying that political discussions invite violence, is yet another injustice against us. 

Our bodies and lives do not have the privilege to claim that they are ‘apolitical.’ By our basic existence, we must contend with the very politicized assumptions placed upon us, black people most of all. Shutting us out from programming is a choice to align with the dominant racist and anti-black culture.

I ask that you support our campaign to add another event to the zine fest lineup. We will use this platform to share anti-racist zines/materials and discuss active ways to resist racism in alternative communities, with a focus on black voices. Please share my statement, email the organizers at brooklynzinefest@gmail.com, and post on their Facebook and Twitter the following letter (or come up with a message of your own):

Dear BZF Coordinators:
Apologize for your removal of the Black Lives Matter panel and open up space for anti-racist discussion at the Brooklyn Zine Fest. I do not support the marginalization of black and brown zinesters.

Signed _____

If you are tabling, consider making a sign for your table saying ‘Black Lives Matter at the Brooklyn Zine Fest’ and if you have been asked to speak on a panel, please state that you do not agree with the removal of the Black Lives Matter panel. If you are interested in participating or helping with the alternative event, please DM me on Twitter @thecowation.

POC Zine Project

An article published in late January of this year tells the story of how the POC Zine Project came to be. At first, as the article explains, POC (People of Color) Zine Project creator Daniela Capistrano “had no idea zines weren’t just for people of color.” As she would later discover, “zine culture is so closely correlated with punk, a predominantly white subculture that’s more inclusive in theory than in practice, zine communities in many cities are also predominantly white.” So in response, Capistrano created the POC Zine Project, “making zines by people of color easy to find, distribute, and share.”

It’s projects like this that remind us of just how multi-cultural of a world we live in. The zine community is widely diverse, with writers of virtually every imaginable background: be it race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic, or otherwise. Zines (and other forms of self-publishing, for that matter) acknowledge the voices of those who often find themselves underrepresented. The power to write something and distribute it, the power to spread your ideas, your opinions, your beliefs, no matter how unpopular or radical they may be, these abilities amplify the tremendous voices of the vastly diverse population that we are all a part of.

- Chris Lambrecht

DIY: Zine

This week I am doing it myself and creating a zine, a small, self‐published booklet of work. Anything can be included in a zine, and how many zines are published is up to the creator. Content ranges from personal essays to comics to artwork ‐ or a combination of all three. Zines are idiosyncratic. My favorite part: there are no rules. So, now that we have established there are no rules, here are some guidelines and how I made *my zine:

6 Steps

1. Collect the items needed to create a zine:


I am learning to screen print for the first time, and anyone who has practiced screen printing knows there are less‐than‐perfect prints that result sometimes, especially in the beginning. So I am using old prints for my zine pages! Hooray! These are being put to good use. Reuse and recycle. One could also use scrap paper, printed photocopies, handmade paper, or even old envelopes.


–dental floss (you heard me!)

–a large needle

–a pen (mark, printer, or whatever you are going to use to make marks, writing or artwork, on your zine pages)

–a paper clip

2. Mark, write and cover, your zine pages. Ideas and what has been done:

–text: essay, article, poetry

–artwork: drawings, comics, infographs

3. Fold each piece of paper and cut the folded edges

I folded both of my 5” x 7” screen prints in half and then stacked them folded on top of each other and then cut the folded edge of the paper

4. Now unfold your paper so that the cuts, or holes, of each sheet are aligned

5. If your paper is about 5” in height, cut about 3’ of floss and thread it through your large needle. If your paper is taller that 5”, cut a little more than 3’, and if your paper is shorter, cut a little less.

6. Start at the top of your sheet and penetrate the top cut with your needle.

7. Make a loop over the edges of the two sheets back through the top cut, and then zigzag through one side to another down the aligned holes.

8. Make a loop at the bottom and travel back up the aligned holes to reinforce the binding of your zine’s spine. When you only have about two inches of floss left, make a knot where you end up along the spine so that your floss is securely fashioned.

9. Fold your pages back, so that your zine is in booklet form with the spine on one edge and your zine opening on the other.

10. If needed, flatten your zine by setting something heavy on the cover until the zine is flat.

Viola! We have a zine!

Where does one find a zine?

Zines and other underground publications are hard to find or unavailable in stores, although you may be able to find zines in some libraries or at independent bookstores, especially in larger cities. The best way to find out about zines is through word of mouth and networking. For instance, I am taking a drawing class, and as my class watched a film, I quietly made my fourth zine. Some classmates saw me, and we began talking about zines. A friend said, “Kyle wants to start a zine club.” Then I knew: Kyle is also interest in or making zines too!

In addition, there are several publications that review zines, giving ordering information for the zine as part of their review. There are also several online communities where zine publishers network, give each other feedback, and promote their zines.

What to do with a zine after it is made?

Think about whom you want to read it and then decide where you want to put it.

Several things you could do:

–check in with the zine communities above.

–cherish it for yourself.

–send it to loved ones and friends.

–check in with your local bookstore to see if they would want to sell it for a couple dollars, the going rate.

–check in with your local library to see if you could set it on a table or display rack. Maybe they have a zine archive or collection!

–trade your zine for another publisher’s zine. You are both publishers – and proud self‐publishers at that!

Lots of zine publishers trade their zines! You want to trade?! Shoot me an email at lucca@ghostnest.com, tweet at us, or write on our wall. OR post a photo here! We would love to see *your zine!

P.S. Here is a great video of a guy giving a zine tutorial. His zine is different from mine, reinforcing that your zine can be and look however you want it. THERE ARE NO RULES.

Peace, love, and zine joy,


I’ve taken some time to think about it and in the few weeks after art week, it became very clear to me why the response is always so immediate and overwhelming. Young Arab artists need to feel like their work is not only meaningful, but belongs somewhere. They deserve to feel needed. It can get pretty depressing just shouting out into the void of the internet, putting up your artwork for everyone to see but still feeling like it’s not part of something bigger. We need for our community of artists to feel like their work matters — no, scratch that — to know that their work matters.

And it’s not only a matter of providing a home or a platform for these artists. They weren’t just sharing their work on art week or gaining visibility; they were redefining and shaping the space itself. Through my brief time heading this project, I’ve found that QP is just as much a platform as it is a collaboration. This dynamic is what makes this project so much easier to handle than if I were just receiving submissions and posting them. I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but hear me out. When the dynamic turns from “submitting work to be posted” into “initiating contact to start a collaboration” something very special happens. We become a community. This space turns from being a platform into being a lived and shared experience.

So please remember to support your local artists. Support artists within your community. You can do it by sharing their work, commenting on it, sending them messages expressing your love, and especially through CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. Most importantly, don’t forget to credit these artists.

   Editor-in-Chief, Fatimah Alajaji

Friends, lately I have been very interested in feminist art, zine-making and snail mail. Are any of you lovely people interested in being a part of a collaborative mail project where we make and share feminist art and possibly compile it into a recurring zine? I was thinking we could choose a broad topic area and go from there… Please feel free to message me if you’re interested! I am craving the type of feminist community I experienced in school, and would love to share and create with you

yes it’s fucking political, everything’s political*

(*many thanks to Skunk Anansie for the title)

This whole Brooklyn Zine Fest thing makes me so sad. I always expect more from zine/punk/radical communities than I do from the rest of the world - meaning I expect them to be less racist, misogynist, homo and bi-phobic, transphobic, ableist, etc., than the rest of the world is. I’m often sorely disappointed, but I still hold out that hope, most of the time. (Note: me saying that is not me saying that I never fuck up. Cos I do.) My thoughts around this are too big to fully unpack right now, but I want to echo what Jenna Freedman said in this piece: As a person with white and many other privileges, I am perhaps the most bothered by the idea that a zine fest could or should be apolitical. To be honest, I don’t think anything is apolitical.

I was thinking about a similar thing, before this all went down. At the Long Beach Zine Fest panel discussion, Teka-Lark Fleming said something (and Senay Kenfe echoed it) along the lines of: “I just want you to remember not to take the politics out of it. Stand against the status quo.” That stuck with me, and Ocean and I talked about it later. I said that I think doing a zine is inherently political, no matter what that zine is about, and that I don’t understand people who do zines and try to fit them into the status quo.

And that’s how I really, truly feel. My zine is not a political zine. In fact, I often feel like I’m not radical enough for certain zine spaces or even radical enough to be around people who have basically the same beliefs as I do. Cos I just tell stories from my life, or sometimes fiction. I just write about music and road trips and like, love, and shit. But I’ve always felt like that, that is political. Just telling your own stories and self-publishing them is a political act, so trying to make a zine fest apolitical seems impossible, but also: why would you want to do that?


Photos from lbzinefest: two crowd shots of our over 2,000 visitors (!!!) to museumoflatinamericanart; the Accessibility & Safer Spaces Policy (I got some naysaying that got to me during my spearheading and writing of that, but the organizers & the members of the zine community who encouraged me got me through, and the response from vendors, attendees, volunteers, and museum staff made it all worth it!); pics of me with my BFF Sharon, my Brooklyn baby smartbunny, and the B-Sides/Viva Vox/Fem Static/PHX Zine Fest crew; THE ZINE TABLE panel with Sarah Bennett (LA Record) moderating and panelists Teka-Lark Fleming (Blk Grrrl Show), francescablock, Greg from Hepcat and “I Was A Teenage Filipino Skinhead,” Senay Kenfe of The Natives, and The Wild Librarian Stacy Russo; that time I got locked in the sculpture garden and was rescued by museum security; missed the afterparty to recharge my proverbial battery and get vegan BLT at Ahimsa with most of the writing workshop facilitators before driving home for much needed sleep!

I didn’t get to meet all of the vendors and I didn’t get to talk to all of the vendors that I did see as much as I wanted to. I covered a lot of ground and my feet are killing me to the likes of which I haven’t felt in years. But I saw a lot of happy faces, all the past and present @lazinefest organizers who still live in SoCal came out to have fun and give support, and I got such great feedback from everyone I came into contact with. It was a pleasure to have a role in things, and the workshops and panel that I had a hand in putting together were well received. I worked with a superb team over the last several months and all their hard work made this event happen.

Long Beach is a wonderful city. SoCal is a wonderful zine community. The zine distros and creators who joined us from all over the country made this a wonderful event. I’m honored to be a part of this in this place and this time.

Thank you to everybody mentioned above, all the organizers, sponsors and community partners, volunteers, museum staff, vendors, workshop facilitators, panelists, musicians, coffee and food vendors, and of course, the people without whom none of this would be possible, the attendees who supported this fest with their presence, patronage, and enthusiasm.

A Communist Effort

A Communist Effort Issues 1-2-4 a London based publication from the mid-eighties PDFs available From: http://www.freecommunism.org/a-communist-effort-issues-1-2-4/ 

Editorial from #1 


To recognise and denounce the ‘left" as the left of capitalism is necessary, but certainly not sufficient to guarantee a coherent communist critique and interverntion. For taking aside the pseudo-different brands of the left and “far left of capitalism, there are also very many forms of recuperation which pretend to possess 'a critique of recuperation. For instance, the pseudo-opposition within, trade-union bureaucracy. This is because recuperation is fundamentally dynamic chameleon-like, it tones down its radicality whenever it thinks it is gaining the upper hand, and of course it tones it up whenever at is beginning to be surpassed by the real movement., This is just one of the reasons why a static critique, and in particular one that doesn’t learn lessons from its own practice, is only a mere caricature of a living critique. Similarly, differences between the conceptions of authentically revolutionary individuals and groups, providing the will is there, should be able to resolve themselves in practice, in the joint organisation, and understanding of the effects of, revolutionary tasks. This is not an advocation of a sort of aliented "daily-ffe”-ism which pretentiously clims to update itself continuously, only in reality to lack any effective, global critique of this period.  Intervention must be strategic — angry and self-conscious - and we must be able to know, and to know how to relativise[?], what we are doing. 

The motivation for this 'review", which will prove useless unless provokes an effective discussion, is a wish for a coherent intervention, which does not eternally contemplate its own navel, but which must also learn from its own successes and failures. 

All of this is certainly not in favour of a kind of more exotic localism, whether of time or space. It is however, not for us to such ridiculous things such as “April 1985 is the date”, even though it is true that the accelerating crisis of capital is becoming more and more out of control for the ruling class, and the conditions of the next few years will bring the alternative war-or-revolution increasingly to the fore.  In other words,, that old revolutionary slogan revolution or death. Revolutionary theory - more than ever unenvisionable without concrete practice - must [deletion] attempt to understand the period (crisis) and various trends within it (e.g. economico-military strategies of the ruling class, including preparations for civil war) as well as the weaknesses (e.g. positons submissive to religion and negotiation in Poland) or to pseudo-oppositions withiI trade-union bureaucracy an England) and the strengths (e.g. the tendency of the riots an early July 1981 to spread, or of the decision of striking miners in South Wales in early 1983 to send their own delegations to other pits around the country) of recent manifestations of the communist movement. 

There is no substitute for the real autonomous movements of proletarians towards organising themselves in mass class combat : those proletarians who are revolutionary now, who are a product of course of the whole movement just like forms of mass self-organisation like Workers’ Councils, must know how to intervene in this. NOT as “bearers of the ultimate truth”, NOT as anti-theory/anti-orgànisational elitists/followists/'daily-life"–.ists, NOT as “introducers of oonsciousness from the outside” (this Leninist-.Kautskyist — also anarchist — ideology’, is obviously, like all ideologies, an enemy of the process by whih autonomous class truggle-becomes conscious Of itself and its aims), NOT as substitutonists at all – whether partyists or pseudo-anti-party clique-ists a Ia Bakunin – , BUT as those who want to organise an effective intervention, anti-sectarian and anti-elitistt, a comthunist intervention, which must always attempt. to state the whole of the matter and to itp itself in the perspective of the generalisation of the class struggle in all senses — theorisation, becoming more bitter, superseding localism and chàuvinisms, organising and arming itself, …..

“All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice.” (Marx, 8th. thesis on Feuerbach.).

IN THE COMMUNITY ISSUE: Millennial Disconnect by Brittany Craig [Poetry Submission]

IN THE COMMUNITY ISSUE: Millennial Disconnect by Brittany Craig [Poetry Submission]

It is always a joy for me when someone submits work to the zine that truly catches my eye and speaks for our generation. Brittany Craig’s Millennial Disconnect is a must read, and can be seen in #TheCommunityIssue.

Read here:

View On WordPress

About to print these flyers for the Don’t leave your sister behind workshop @ticicalliyahualli @mujeresdemaiz happening at Cal State LA April 22nd 7pm. Donation-based childcare available.

#mdm2015 #mujeresdemaiz #parenting #support #solidarity #zine #skolar #community #allies #radmamas #raddads #radkids #radicallove #ticicalli #malcs

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE RECENT CONTROVERSY SURROUNDING THE BROOKLYN ZINE FEST, Along with a Critique of the Present State of NYC Zine Culture and a Call to Improve It -- A Statement By Two Exhibitors at This Year’s Festival

If you’re reading this, then we presume you’re already familiar with all that’s been going down surrounding the 2015 Brooklyn Zine Fest and the cutting of a panel on Black Lives Matter. If not, then you should go ahead and read Jordan Alam’s statement, and if you want, take a look at the whole chain of events leading up to where we are now.

Done? Okay, good.

Now I think in some peoples’ minds this controversy is pretty much over. BZF responded to Jordan’s post. They re-instated the Black Lives Matter panel (with its original, un-watered down title, no less). What’s left to talk about? To that we answer: lots.

There are many in the NYC zine community and the zine world more broadly who are still unsatisfied with BZF’s response. Because it resorts to finger pointing in lieu of apology, because it makes excuses and admits of no mistakes being made, and because it only hints vaguely at a desire to give marginalized voices more prominence in future events. Asking for feedback for how to do a better job in that area is all well and good, but if the person asking for feedback also refuses to admit they did much of anything wrong, it doesn’t exactly inspire hope that things are going to change.

We agree with all of these complaints. But we didn’t write this zine simply to re-hash what’s already been said. We wanted to use this space to broaden and deepen the scope of the critique. As is usually the case, recent events are only a symptom of bigger problems. Unless we examine the underlying causes and begin to address them, we can expect things like this to arise again and again. We also felt the need to go into depth, examine this issue from every angle, partly because the dynamics at work here are by no means limited to this particular event. We hope that the analysis we put forth here is valuable to anyone dealing with issues of exclusion or erasure in DIY scenes.

Keep reading

4/18-26の間、ニューヨークのRESOBOX Galleryにて開催されるイベント「10×10′s Shashin Zine Fest.NYc」にZINE「0」を出品致します。


10×10’s Shashin Zine Fest NYC
18-26 April 2015 at RESOBOX Gallery

Organized by 10×10 Photobooks in association with Shashin: Photography from Japan.
10×10’s Shashin Zine Fest is an outgrowth of 10×10 Photobooks’ ongoing commitment to projects that bring together diverse photobook communities. The zine fest is a dynamic and entertaining reading room that will pop-up for one week at the Resobox Japanese Gallery in Long Island City, inviting New York visitors to experience the real flavor of what is currently happening in Japan. It’s a great opportunity to introduce to U.S. shores a multitude of new zines and their creators, many of which have never before been seen outside of Japan. With its relaxed environment, readers are encouraged to peruse the zines at their leisure, and should they fall in love with one, all zines will be available for purchase, with average prices ranging from $5 – $20, permitting everyone the chance to take home a unique piece of hip and happening art from Japan.

41-26 27th Street
Long Island City, NY 11101

Weekdays from 11AM – 5PM (closed Tuesdays)
Weekends from 12 – 8PM

By Subway:
7, N or Q trains to Queensboro Plaza (1-minute walk from subway)
E, M or R trains to Queens Plaza (4-minute walk from subway)

Volume 2 issue 3 out now! Contact me if you want an issue mailed out to you. Mixed Messages Zine is a completely submission based, cut and paste zine. Send me pieces of yourselves to submit: photographs, notes, receipts, cards, newspaper clippings, scraps - anything that represents who you are. Putting pieces of ourselves together makes us whole. #zine #zines #diy #cutandpaste #community

Call for Submissions: Grown Ass Lady wants YOU

Call for Submissions: Grown Ass Lady wants YOU


We’re an online & print zine by and for women that chronicles the offbeat, opulent, vintage, and smutty side of life, with subversive humor and wit. GrownAssLady is a spot where like-minded gals can talk about owning who you are, being a rebel, and living without apologies. We think of ourselves as a female hedonist’s guide to life, and we’re looking…

View On WordPress