This is from a questionnaire I had to answer from BOOKLYN Artists Alliance, a book art project in Brooklyn NY. I wrote the response last year, in February 2008. It's basically about why I bother to write my zine, Shotgun Seamstress.
Shotgun Seamstress is a zine for people more or less like myself: Black, queer,
feminist, artist, musician, outsider. It is a zine primarily for Black people who
do not fit into white people's stereotypes of what a Black person should be, and who
resist our own internalized stereotypes of how Black people ought to behave, how we
are supposed to talk, what kind of music we're supposed to listen to and play, etc.
The zine is meant to support Black kids who have been isolated in white subcultures
because following your heart and expressing your true self (as queer, punk, etc.)
and finding a community that supports those identities also oftentimes entails
emotional isolation as a Black person with few or no Black friends.
With Shotgun Seamstress, I hope to start a new chapter as far as addressing our
struggles with racism in the punk scene and in society at large. In the mid-90s
with zines like Evolution of a Race Riot and How to Stage a Coup, people of color
in the punk scene finally started to verbalize our struggles and our pain. Some
people left punk because they couldn't deal. But some of us couldn't leave punk
because we love it and we need it. It's who we are, how we express ourselves, how
we make art, how we have fun and how we are political. And for those of us who need
punk, there ought to be some sort of network of support. I'm almost 30 years old, and
I'm done with lamenting over my experience. Yeah, it's hard being black and gay and
otherwise weird, but it's beautiful too. Shotgun Seamstress tries to put words to our
beauty, strength and audacity, and to the uniqueness of our perspective as Black
I am also in a band called New Bloods with my best friend and fellow Black Punk,
Adee Licious as well as our good friend Cassia Gammill. The audience our band has
accumulated over the past couple of years has also encouraged me to continue to
write my zine. Young black girls all over the country contact our band through
MySpace and tell us how excited they are that we exist. People like that (like me!)
are looking for reflections of themselves outside of mainstream (Black)culture.
That's partly what I hope to provide with our band and with my zine, so that when
little Tameka figures out she's a big gay freak, she'll find inspiration and support
from other Black people who are the same way.
Lastly, with Shotgun Seamstress, I hope to encourage all Black folks to start
benefiting from our own cultural legacy. I hope I don't need to explain why it's
ridiculous that rock music gets labeled as "white music". To me, this is the
cultural counterpart to colonization. Cultural colonization. White people continue
to profit and otherwise benefit from all the work we've done and all the art we've
created but we do not. Well finally, it's reclamation time.