speaking out

Fear of a Black Queer Planet

We are living now inside the imagination of people who thought economic disparity and environmental destruction were acceptable costs for their power. It is our right and responsibility to write ourselves into the future. All organizing is science fiction. If you are shaping the future, you are a futurist. A visionary fiction is a way to practice the future in our minds, alone and together. -Adrienne Maree Brown.

 

Dallas Diaz read Jaye and Raina that quote when they met up with them back in July. They were reading from a book titled, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds which can sum up the amazing work Dallas has done thus far in their young life.

 

“I’m just a little 22 year old out of college with my first career trying to figure things out and how to flip the politics of this state that is very corrupt,” they said. “I’m looking for a place where I can be black and queer and be trusted and not tokenized for that, but empowered by that.”

 

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(Click here to listen to the amazing episode! But also keep reading, please! They say a lot of cool things that didn’t make it into the final cut of the episode!)

 

Dallas grew up going to public school and learning to play many instruments including guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums (among others). When it came to joining bands, though, they were always asked to play bass and keyboard instead of lead guitar. As if that could stop them from getting out into the spotlight.

 

When a friend asked them to join a band as the drummer, they knew it was their time to get out from the background and into the spotlight.

 

“I’ve been playing music since I was 5 years old, but this is my first time actually being in a group with anybody playing music and playing shows and things like that, which is something I’ve wanted to do my whole life, but had my friend not asked me and trusted me and someone else showed that type of confidence in me, I wouldn’t have done it,” they said.

 

Of course, being behind the drumset had its challenges both on and off the stage. People weren’t expecting to see a young black person in that role. Dallas was in charge of the rhythm on stage, and off stage they were trying to make their way in the world untokenized.

 

“I think there’s a vacuum and I think a lot of marginalized artists, and artists who have been healing their trauma through art, are gonna find a lot more validation,” they said. “There are spaces to start having these critical conversations that we’ve been missing out on.”

 

On top of finding their own voice in music, Dallas is a passionate activist. In a world that doesn’t want to change, Dallas has decided to speak louder and give a voice that wasn’t always there for them.

 

“I was having a lot of trouble negotiating [anti-blackness within communities of color in Arizona organizations] as well as being queer, being a nonbinary person,” they said. “I was in a lot of spaces, the first non binary person to be around, so it was really tasked onto me to teach people how to treat me right.”

 

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Remember, YOUR VOICE MATTERS! Stand up and be heard.

Finding the space to be yourself and to advocate for those you don’t see or hear is exactly what makes Dallas a trailblazer in our community.

 

Like Toni Morrison said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.” Dallas writes their own story. When they didn’t see themselves being represented in the community or in music, they stepped in.

 

“Validating myself through watching what other artists are doing and watching other people through their processes, that’s what art is,” they said. “I think I had such a self-consciousness that comes with perfectionism. I didn’t want to put anything out if it didn’t have like good melodic sense or anything.”

 

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Making their music heard in the community they live in is just one way we can see the importance of self-publishing. Maybe not everyone will understand your voice or your story at first, but getting it out there is the first step.

 

“I’ve been spending some time trying to really be grateful for right now, and what I was so grateful for yesterday, it kind of overwhelmed me: I was realizing how many young emerging artists and changemakers I’ve met in the middle of the desert already in my young 20s and what that’s going to look like as I cultivate it as I get older,” Dallas said.

 

You can follow Dallas and all of the amazing stuff they are doing on Instagram.

 

Still want to hear more about Dallas and their work? Click here to listen to the full episode!

 

Thank you so much for reading and for supporting us!

 

Publishing Without Anyone's Permission

Raise your hand if you have ever felt silenced before. If you’re anything like us, you probably have. Maybe it was in a classroom, in a relationship, in your family, or even just in general when you are trying to join a conversation. Well, you’re not alone.

 

“I first started making zines in my last semester of college, because I was studying journalism and I felt like I had no place to publish what I was really passionate about,” said Charissa Lucille, a self-published zinster, owner of the Wasted Ink Zine Distro and organizer for the Phoenix Zine Fest.

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(Check out/listen to the full podcast here! Or just keep reading as well, reading is cool.)

 

After pursuing a degree in journalism Charissa felt her writing was stifled, like she couldn’t take a chance writing anything that could be considered an opinion. You aren’t supposed to have an opinion when you are a journalist and and four years of being told to keep it to herself, she had had enough.

 

“I didn’t feel like there was any place in the local news outlets that would be a good fit for what I wanted to write about, you know that was very activism focused, that was very intersectional,” she said. “There was not a lot of opportunities to have that work published.”

 

So she decided to take her voice back into her own hands. She started working on her first zine her last semester of college.

 

For those who may not be familiar, a “zine” is a self-published magazine that can contain any topic, style, color or design it wants. It is usually created by an individual or a small team of people.

 

“It is introspective. It is diving deep and kind of uncovering all the parts of me that I might not think are all that important or story worthy, but there’s always another person that connects to those stories,” she said.

 

Most of Charissa’s zines follow the topic of feminism and, in recent years, have a focus with photography and prose in the publications. Her zines are personal and reflective of her own life.

 

“My next zine that I’m working on is actually a zine about endometriosis and the surgery that I had earlier this year about that,” she said. “So, again, they’re more educational, they’re more personal. They’re not fiction in any way.”

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Her zines have blossomed from something she was just doing in her freetime to a passion project she just couldn’t keep quiet about. She has now made about 15 zines (some collaborative projects, some individual) since beginning four years ago.

 

“I think it’s good to just try and make those connections by just telling your story,” Charissa said. “And I think so far just working on this project [the Distro], it’s really made a lot of people reach out to me and tell me their own story, which is really beautiful.”

 

Three years ago, Charissa opened up the Wasted Ink Zine Distro in Phoenix where she started building a library and collection of zines from around the world. Walking into the distro is like stepping into a time capsule (a capsule with an adorable octopus painted on the wall). It now houses over 250 artists with some zines going all the way back to the 80’s.

 

“I think holding that space a very interesting challenge and learning process, and I’m definitely not done learning,” she said.

 

On top of running the distro, Charissa also hosts various workshops for the community and helps to organize the Phoenix Zine Fest. Like any good leader, Charissa has made it a priority to make the space a welcoming one.

 

“We have so many people making their first zines ever, which is wildly exciting,” she said. “And I’m always inspired by the new stuff that comes in. It’s still such a newish community that we’re really shaping and kind of nudging what it looks like, and again, how we conduct ourselves and how we set our goals and invite more and more people.”

 

With so many young, vulnerable and interested individuals who attend these things, she knows just how important it is to make them feel they can speak up.

 

“Every person who walks through the door matters,” she said. “Every single person. Because it is, it’s an act of bravery to go into a space you’ve never been to before, and to participate, especially if it involves creativity… everyone that walks through the doors I applaud, because it’s so brave to enter a new space.”

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Charissa says she knows how important it is to carry a diverse voice within the distro, because it should be a space for everyone. She continues to grow and develop the zine community in Phoenix despite any challenges that are thrown her way.

 

“Sometimes I’ve encountered hate because of the content that is published in my feminist zines,” she said. “And that’s fine. Like, you can tweet at me all you want. I don’t care. I will be focusing on programming here and to try and continue to bring people together and inspire storytelling through zines. I think those are my goals.”

 

You can follow Charissa and all of the amazing stuff she is doing on Twitter and Instagram.

 

ALSO, you can attend the Phoenix Zine Fest and meet her and a bunch of other really cool people (like us here at the podcast, we’ll be there) on October 28th!

 

Still want to know more about Charissa and self-publishing? Click here to listen to the full episode!

 

Thank you so much, once again, to our follower and supporters! It means a lot to us!