What is the Future of Black Lives Under a Kleptocracy? A Lecture by Alicia Garza on Tuesday 4/11

On Tuesday, April 11, BCRW is thrilled to host “What is the Future of Black Lives Under a Kleptocracy?” a lecture by Alicia Garza focusing on the first 100 days of the new administration and what’s at stake for the movement.

Garza’s lecture will be followed by a conversation with the audience moderated by Barnard College Professor Premilla Nadasen. To contribute to the conversation, please submit your questions by Sunday 4/9.

The event will be held on Tuesday 4/11 at 6 PM in the Diana Center at Barnard College.

Join us for a conversation on Black feminist organizing, intersectional coalition building, and insights from the Movement for Black Lives for organizers, students, and scholars building resistance in these times.



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Speaker Bio

Alicia GarzaAlicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, also co-founded the Black Lives Matter network, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combatting anti-Black state- sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Since the rise of the BLM movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian, Elle.com, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times.

In addition, her work has received numerous recognitions including being named on The Root’s 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers, the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, the 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, and as a Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards.

Most important, as a queer Black woman, Garza’s leadership and work challenge the misconception that only cisgender Black men encounter police and state violence. While the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were catalysts for the emergence of the BLM movement, Garza is clear: In order to truly understand how devastating and widespread this type of violence is in Black America, we must view this epidemic through of a lens of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.

PHOTOS from The Argonauts: A Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson

On April 14, 2016, Christina Crosby, Saidiya Hartman, Sam Huber, Heather Love, and Maggie Nelson joined us for a conversation at The Argonauts: A Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson, moderated by Tina Campt. Watch a recording from the event below:

The Argonauts: A Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

And check out photos from the event:

Heather Love, Saidiya Hartman, Sam Huber, Tina Campt, Maggie Nelson, Christina Crosby

The Argonauts

Tina Campt, Maggie Nelson, Christina Crosby

The Argonauts

Saidiya Hartman, Tina Campt, Heather Love, Maggie Nelson, Sam Huber, Christina Crosby

View the full album on Facebook.

Photography by Matt Harvey

What’s Next at BCRW, Plus Videos from our Events


Thank you to everyone who joined BCRW at our lectures and conversations, our salon, and the annual Scholar and Feminist Conference on feminist sustainabilities. Your thoughtful questions, insights, and contributions generated critical dialogues and planted seeds for ongoing work here at BCRW and beyond.

Though the semester has wound down, BCRW has several exciting projects underway this summer:

  • Launching the BCRW Activist Institute, a new iteration of BCRW’s scholar-activist collaborations.
  • A new partnership with artist Micah Bazant and #TransLiberationTuesday.
  • Organizing the second year of the Harlem Semester, a joint initiative of BCRW and the Department of Africana Studies.
  • Ongoing digitization of BCRW’s archives in collaboration with librarians in the Barnard Archives and Special Collections.
  • A forthcoming issue of The Scholar and Feminist Online on engagements with technoscience.

I hope you will read on to learn more about these projects and to watch recordings of the powerful events we hosted this past semester.

With appreciation,

Tina Campt
Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women




BCRW has partnered with artist Micah Bazant on #TransLiberationTuesday, a multimedia project dedicated to supporting, celebrating, and honoring trans people in life, not just in memoriam, focusing on the resilience and accomplishments of trans women, trans femmes, and trans people of color.

This week, #TransLiberationTuesday coordinated with Survived and Punished to support Ky Peterson, a black trans man who is currently incarcerated for defending himself against transphobic violence, and to demand his release.

Please join us by signing the petition demanding that Georgia Governor Nathan Deal exonerate Ky Peterson.

Ky Peterson

Isa Noyola Elle Hearns



Navigating Neoliberalism in the Academy, Nonprofits, and Beyond

This issue of The Scholar & Feminist Online uses the theoretical and historical models articulated by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence to critique the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) and later the academic industrial complex (AIC) to explore the non-profit and the university as two key sites in which neoliberal social and economic reforms are constituted and contested. This issue is edited by Soniya Munshi and Craig Willse. Contributors include Ujju Aggarwal, Gabriel Arkles, Maile Arvin, Myrl Beam, Avi Cummings, Treva Ellison, Pooja Gehi, Gillian Harkins, Priya Kandaswamy, Soo Ah Kwon, Colby Lenz, Edwin Mayorga, Mimi Thi Nguyen, Rori Rohlfs, Dean Spade, and Lee Ann S. Wang. In addition, the issue includes reprinted articles by Alisa Bierria, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Paul Kivel, Dylan Rodríguez, and Paula X. Rojas, fromThe Revolution Will Not be Funded, a crucial, currently out of print collection edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence. This issue also includes videos produced by Dean Spade and Hope Dector, featuring interviews with activists and academics at the 2013 conference “Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues.”

Available free online at http://sfonline.barnard.edu.


BCRW and Africana Studies Department Wrap the Inaugural Harlem Semester

Spring 2016 marked the inaugural launch of the Harlem Semester – an ambitious public humanities initiative that explores the myriad forms of black culture and politics emerging in and around Harlem. Organized by the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Department of Africana Studies, the Harlem Semester pairs faculty research and instruction with venerated Harlem institutions to teach the neighborhood’s rich cultural and political legacy.

Learn more about the initiative, course offerings, and institutional partnerships by visiting http://bcrw.barnard.edu/publications/harlemsemester.

Harlem Semester

Image Credit: Harlem Semester course Performing Risk: James Baldwin’s Harlem with Professor Rich Blint


Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues

A collaboration with BCRW Activist Fellow Dean Spade

Queer Dreams Part 1: What are We Fighting For? from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 2: How Do Rich People Control Our Movements? from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 3: The Nonprofit Hamster Wheel from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 4: Who’s in Charge? from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 5: Basebuilding from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Dreams and Nonprofit Blues Part 6: Where Do We Go From Here? from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.





Tina Campt – Welcoming Remarks at The Scholar & Feminist Conference 41: Sustainabilities from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Reina Gossett: Making a Way Out of No Way from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Sustaining Harlem: Art, Community Activism and Black Women’s Leadership from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Working at the Limits: State and Structural Violence from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Gloria Joseph and Naomi Jackson: Caribbean Feminisms on the Page from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

The Argonauts: A Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.


Argonauts Salon in Honor of Maggie Nelson

Caribbean Feminisms: From the Page to our Lives, Across Borders and Communities


Victoria Brown and Edwidge Danticat at Barnard College

In hosting a series of events that featured conversations between Caribbean woman writers, the Barnard Center for Research on Women sought to centralize the importance of developing a transnational feminist dialogue. This year, the debut event for the BCRW’s Caribbean Feminisms on the Page series featured a conversation between Edwidge Danticat and Victoria Brown.
wind is spirit (1) bird hill

The concluding salon in the sequence was a discussion about The Wind is Spirit: The Life, Love, and Legacy of Audre Lorde and The Star Side of Bird Hill between their respective authors, Gloria Joseph and Naomi Jackson.

The writings of Victoria Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Audre Lorde, and Naomi Jackson, are all formed within a framework of Caribbean feminism. As Black women with ties to the Caribbean, the authors’ literary projects have been informed by a transnational feminist effort that welds U.S.- based Black feminism, anti-imperial dialogues, and the liberation efforts of Caribbean women at home and in the diaspora. To suture the rifts and fragments of their narratives, Caribbean women make use of a feminist impulse that constantly questions state violence and structural domination. The works of these authors reveal the resistant forms of everyday knowledge-making and activism practiced by Caribben women.

In Edwidge Danticat’s work, specifically in her memoir, Brother I’m Dying, these dialogues are depicted as emerging from deeply personal interactions with state power and governance that threaten to rupture the familial structure. In depicting the instability and precarity experienced by a family caught in the links of migration, detention, and displacement, Danticat reveals a disruption of familial space by threats of forceful state governance. Naomi Jackson’s coming of age novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, delves into an equally complex family narrative with similar concerns around transplantation, displacement, and the mobility of the fractured West Indian family and body. Offering deeply intimate accounts of Black girlhood and its complexities, the narratives fit within a contentious structural conflict between imperialist governance and Caribbean feminisms. This type of governance is rooted in efforts to gain control over Caribbean livelihoods to serve the needs of Euro-American economic and political expansion and is tied to state practices of border control. 

The works of Victoria Brown, Edwidge Danticat, Audre Lorde, and Naomi Jackson consider home as a mobile and precarious site. This precarity is informed by the shifting migratory patterns produced by border delineations that have segmented the Caribbean body, and arguably all migrant bodies, warping its sense of belonging and cultural allegiance.

Audre and Linda

In Zami, Audre Lorde describes her own sense of longing for a home she only knew through her West Indian mother. Lorde forges a link between her relationship to her mother and her relationship to Grenada, establishing a maternal kinship that exceeds time and place, extending the notion of communal networks among women beyond borders. Lorde posits not only gender identity and sexuality as unstable categories, but also the very notion of home.

Once home was a far way off, a place I had never been to but knew well out of my mother’s mouth. She breathed exuded hummed the fruit smell of Noel’s Hill morning fresh and noon hot, and I spun visions of sapadilla and mango as a net over my Harlem tenement cot in the snoring darkness rank with nightmare sweat. Made bearable because it was not all. This now, here, was a space, some temporary abode, never to be considered forever nor totally binding nor defining, no matter how much it commanded in energy and attention. For if we lived correctly and with frugality, looked both ways before crossing the street, then someday we would arrive back in the sweet place, back home.

In examining practices of border delineation, Brown and Danticat consider Caribbean feminism a form of resistance to their resulting influence in producing displaced and stateless subjects. In order to critically consider notions of empire, spatial organization of bodies, and national allegiances, Caribbean feminisms demand attention to the gendered contours of statelessness and displacement. Understanding regional and transnational political dynamics as interactive allow insight into the practices by which Caribbean women’s subjectivities are formed.

During a “Caribbean Feminisms on the Page” conversation between Edwidge Danticat and Victoria Brown, a question arose about whether there is a feminist movement in the Caribbean that mobilizes scholarly, intellectual engagements. Demanding attention to visibility, class inequality, and various structural challenges that eclipse efforts of resistance to imperial governance mobilized by Caribbean women, Danticat offered insight into the gendered dimensions of the Dominican-Haitian border relations. In the context of border conflict, Haitian women’s bodies are caught in the juncture of dominance and subjugation enforced by paramilitary state practices and border policing. The livelihoods of Haitian women are undermined through displacement while their subjectivity and sovereignty are constrained within structural power relations. Any attempt at understanding contemporary struggles against xenophobic and anti-Black border policies must be grounded in a differential study of Haitian and Dominican histories as they connect with practices of U.S. imperialism, colonial relations, and insurgent movements and practices of resistance.

Caribbean feminisms are informed by historical narratives of struggle, resistance, and survival against imperial and colonial domination. They operate as part of a mobile and global dialogue and are rooted intimacy of the home setting. Audre Lorde centers her self-actualization and instinct for creating communal bonds with other women in the home-place she refers to as Carriacou, her mother’s place of origin. She describes these lessons in Zami in recounting the narratives of her kinfolk:

Women who survived the absence of their sea-faring men easily, because they came to love each other, past the men’s returning. Madivine. Friending. Zami. How Carriacou women love each other is legend in Grenada, and so is their strength and their beauty.

Created by the labor and collective engagements of Caribbean women, Caribbean feminisms are inextricably linked to traditions forged within the context of slavery. In her dialogue with Gloria Joseph as part of the “Caribbean Feminisms on the Page” series, Naomi Jackson emphasizes the imprint of slavery and its legacy in the context of Barbadian communities. Caribbean feminisms have been mobilized across time and space to give form to complex narratives and subjectivities, and have been integral to resistance efforts and radical engagements for change in the livelihoods of Caribbean women.

These efforts and narratives converge when we consider women’s labor activism in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic. Black women’s bodies in their racialized constitutions are inextricably linked to state power and expansion and Black womanhood is anchored to the concept of nation-building. Strategies of empire-expansion deploy women’s bodies within their racialized hierarchies to sustain complex capitalistic economic and political structures. This is revealed in the historical practice of using Black women’s bodies as tools of labor production and reproduction in the United States and in the Caribbean.

One StruggleOngoing issues concerning wage disparity, statelessness and displacement, state violence and carceral practices against Black bodies must be viewed through the critical lens of Caribbean feminism. The condition of Haitian workers in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the United States, where imperial forces operate to sustain capitalist economies, must be viewed as inextricably linked.

By generating feminist discourse concerning Caribbean womanhood, nationhood, and history, Danticat, Brown, and Jackson are effectively mobilizing resistance and forging transnational links of solidarity between feminist narratives. The Feminisms on the Page series has provided a forum in which we have grappled with the tools and narratives offered within Caribbean feminist frameworks

We must continue to go further; from the page to the streets, across borders and communities, we must devote creative efforts and generate activist engagements that centralize narratives of resistance and forge links of solidarity between our liberation strategies. 

We can draw from the narratives offered by our foremothers, Caribbean woman-storytellers, healers, and activists like Audre Lorde to carry out our investments in collective liberation.




“Next Steps in the Struggle for Citizenship in the Dominican Republic”

“Home is Where the Heart Cannot be: the oppression of Haitians in the Dominican Republic” 

“Digital Translations of Quisqueya” 

Reading on 4/19 with Karen Tei Yamashita


Karen Tei Yamashita

Please join BCRW and friends at a reading with National Book Award Finalist Karen Tei Yamashita on Tuesday, April 19 at 6 PM in Altshul Hall, Room 503. Yamashita will be reading from I-Hotel Anime Wong. 

This event is sponsored by the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS).

Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies at #SF41

At the Scholar & Feminist Conference 41: Sustainabilities conference, I attended a panel entitled “Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies.” BCRW Senior Activist Fellow Amber Hollibaugh was joined by Kate D’Adamo, Hamid Khan, and Ola Osaze to discuss issues impacting low-income and immigrant LGBTQ people and their experiences with ongoing changes in the neoliberal global market.

From Hollibaugh, I learned about the concept of gay affluence propagated by mainstream media. Hollibaugh urged us to reframe mainstream efforts in reforms for “equality,” and instead look to dismantle systems that leave queer people at the margins of the economy. Many panelists suggested similar structures for conceptualizing the economic intersections in queer identities. I have been conditioned to visualize liberation as “equality,” visibility, and assimilation. This panel has helped me understand alternatives to the dominant framework that has been pushed by mainstream media and mainstream LGBTQ organizations.  I am now delving deeper into feminist theory concerning the importance of anti-assimilation organizational efforts, and I was excited to see the theories I read put into practice by activists.

The fluctuating global market and its impacts on LGBTQ people are some of the issues that Hollibaugh addresses with her new initiative Queer Survival Economies, created after the closure of the organization Queers for Economic Justice and currently hosted by the Barnard Center for Research on Women. On speaking about her Queer Survival Economies project, Hollibaugh has expressed the need for a new framework, stating, “liberation has to reemerge as how we see change.”

Queer Survival Economies “gives traction to an economic justice perspective that is queer.”

Hollibaugh criticized the dangerous myth of gay affluence,  a political strategy that frames LGBTQ people as wealthy consumers with large disposable incomes. Yet the majority of LGBTQ people are poor or working class. The media portrayals of queer people as mostly white, wealthy gays and lesbians exclude the majority of the LGBTQ population. The myth of gay affluence ignores the economic hardships that LGBTQ people experience, particularly people of color and people with disabilities, which cause and reinforce barriers to employment, housing, and healthcare. 

Moreover, when the media does address LGBTQ poverty it portrays it as a youth issue, largely ignoring the economic struggles of LGBTQ elders. Hollibaugh stated, as  “you [get] older you are blamed for your poverty.” Queer movements that promote assimilation, mainstream visibility, and political reform ignore the nuances of class, ability and gender in the LGBTQ community. By doing so, people of color, poor, working class, and disabled individuals are erased in the narrative of who constitutes queerness.

Ola Osaze, an activist for queer and trans communities as well as African immigrant communities, spoke about the intersections of immigration, economics and criminalization. As an immigrant from Nigeria, Osaze discussed how “being black in America came with a huge amount of signifiers” and that “criminalization often intersected with immigration.” As a result, Osaze explained, African immigrants face high rates of deportation.

Like Hollibaugh, Osaze believes that reform is not the end goal, as it would not undo the racism and white supremacy that shapes immigration rhetoric and systems in the U.S. Instead, Ozase posed the question: “What if transformation and liberation were [our] framework instead of reform?”

Pakistani immigrant organizer Hamid Khan, leader of Stop LAPD Spying echoed these ideas. Khan discussed how American society is built upon histories of surveillance and counter intelligence, and how these histories of surveillance are permeated in every aspect of our lives.  The origins of policing in American society can be traced back to slavery. Therefore, we must be conscious and critical of the ways in which we conceptualize history and its connectivity to contemporary issues and our organizing efforts must reflect this.  

Kate D’Adamo of the Sex Workers Project, a legal service organization that works directly with sex workers, talked about different forms of formal and informal labor. For countless individuals, informal labor is a mechanism of survival. Therefore, informal labor for queer people is vital and must be decriminalized. D’Adamo stressed the importance and urgency of the Fight for 15 Movement, which would raise standards in employment nationwide. The Fight for 15, in D’Adamo’s opinion, is a queer issue. She stated statistics that said that roughly 40% of runaway youth are LGBTQ, and that although it is important to bring queer elders into the spotlight, numerous queer youth are struggling economically. D’Adamo stated “[Queer people] rely on each other to survive…why are we criminalizing the ways that marginalized communities are surviving?”

Although I thought that the speakers were very clear in portraying their goal of refusal in lieu of reform,  I left with a number of unanswered questions. My questions were specifically related to the ideologies of visibility, equality, and liberation. As a community, we must think through what these ideas and concepts mean to us. How do we imagine our future (where do we go from here and how do we plan to get there)? How do we resolve mainstream narratives of our goals, and how should we go about, if at all, resolving the lack of consensus within our own communities? I do not have specific answers to these questions,  and do not expect to formulate simple and straightforward answers, yet I hope to be able to discuss these issues and ideas with others.

Watch the video below:

Queer Survival Economies: Invisible Lives, Targeted Bodies from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

Further Reading

Amber Hollibaugh

Yana Calou

Kate D’Adamo

Hamid Khan

Ola Ozase


Art, Community, and Activism: Beyond our Lines of Vision at #SF41

Sustaining Harlem: Art, Community Activism and Black Women’s Leadership from BCRW Videos on Vimeo.

At this year’s Scholar and Feminist Conference, Sade Lythcott, Virginia Johnson, Pat Cruz, and Thelma Golden were invited to speak on the importance of art in considering the sustainability of Harlem as a community that centers Black cultural, political, and social innovation. As self-identified Black women, the speakers spoke to the centrality of their identities in imagining the futuristic impact of the cultural institutions they each represented. Pat Cruz, Executive Director of Harlem Stage, highlighted the reciprocal relationship between cultural institutions and the communities they serve and represent as crucial to the framework of sustainability.

Through mutual engagement and dynamic exchange, cultural institutions at their best are part of a dialogic set of engagements that extend beyond static locations and that challenge the bifurcation of art and everyday enactments of resistance. Cruz cited the Civil Rights Movement, to which three of the four represented institutions could trace their founding, as an example of social and political stimulus to the production of art. Virginia Johnson spoke of the ways in which the Harlem Renaissance fueled the creative energy that propelled art institutions like the Dance Theater of Harlem forward.

While they shift along with the ever-changing context of Harlem, these cultural centers exist on a historical continuum that acknowledges and honors the past while actively creating visions for futuristic advancement and present sustainability. In considering the meaning of community, Sade Lythcott draws a distinction between the physical spaces that neighborhoods occupy and the broader landscape of community, which is ever-expanding and untethered to a static location, reaching even the imaginary and metaphysical realms. For Lythcott, it is these unstable spaces that present sustainable potentials and possibilities for collectivization.

To look beyond the physical realm is to recognize the ways in which Black livelihoods are not entirely legible on the ideological parchment provided by a society that actively obliterates Black integrity. It is part of an effort to engage the shadow spaces where the Black imaginary thrives and lends itself to a subversive creative effort. All the women on the panel offered radical self-definitions of history, art, and community, centralizing the importance of creation as an articulation of sustainability.

“Taking Up Space and Making Art”: An Interview with Nia King

Nia King is a creative powerhouse whose work expands many different forms of media. King is a podcast producer, writer, zinester and self-publisher, and most importantly an artist and activist. In 2014, King published the collection of interviews Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives and is currently in the process of compiling a second volume. I was able to talk to King about activism, artistic inspirations, and the ins and outs of self-publishing and grassroots marketing strategies.

Nia King

EM: You describe yourself as an “art activist.” What does that mean to you? How do you see art and activism as linked?

NK: I identify as an “art activist” because I make art that is political, that deals with race, gender, queer and trans issues, class, disability, fatphobia and other forms of social oppression.

EM: Who/what has inspired your work?

NK: People who really inspire me include Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame. He is probably my favorite artist in the world. I love his visual style and also his storytelling. Some of the first representations I sought out of people like me (queer people of color) were in comics, and Love in Rockets was definitely one of the first comics to portray queer women of color in a way that felt very real and very relatable. Maggie and Hopey were so cool, and I wanted to live in their world.

I am also really inspired by Poly Styrene. She was a mixed-race (Black/white) woman and the lead singer of an early punk band called X-Ray Spex. As a woman of color who grew up in punk scenes and became politicized largely through punk, it was really important for me to be able to look back at the history of punk and see people like me—women of color—who were taking up space, sort of demanding a right to be weird, and making amazing art.

EM: What does DIY mean to you?

NK: DIY means you do everything yourself. At this point, there are some pieces of work I delegate— like graphic design for the cover of my book, or transcription for the podcast—but for the most part I do everything myself. I book the podcast guests, I research their work, I interview them, I spend hours and hours editing the interviews, I record the intro, I add the music, I upload the files to my website and I share them on social media. Other podcasts have studios and engineers and interns. I just have me, and a couple friends I pay to do transcription or occasionally help with editing.

Similarly, the money for the first book was all crowd-funded. It all came from individual donors who believed in the work I was doing. I think the largest gift was $250, but most of the donations were $5-$20. I have never received a grant for any of my work.

EM: You take a grassroots approach in terms of fundraising, marketing and creating your work. Why is the grassroots approach important for you? What obstacles have you faced? What advice do you have for others who want to utilize this approach?

NK: I don’t really see an alternative to doing things the grassroots way. My work is not mainstream enough for institutions or organizations to want to resource my work in a meaningful way, or at least that hasn’t happened yet.

It’s really hard for people of color to get published, especially queer and trans people of color, especially if their work is politically charged in a way that is challenging the status quo. I self-publish because my work is considered too “niche” or too “specific” by mainstream publishers, but also because I am too impatient and I feel like the work is too urgent to wait for institutions with access to resources to want to get behind it. Every time I start to work on a book proposal or a grant application to try and convince people that my work is important and worth funding, I feel like that’s time and energy I could be spending on the book or the podcast instead, so I tend not to get very far.

EM: Why did you decide to start doing interviews? What is your interview process?

NK: I wanted to pick the brains of artists I admired about how they got where they are. I wanted to get their advice and economic survival strategies and share them with others that might be hungry for the same information.

EM: What is the process of self-publishing like? What are the advantages and the biggest roadblocks?

NK: The advantage is complete creative control, including control over the publishing timeline. The other big advantage is that even though you pay more up front, you also get to keep more of the money because no publisher is taking a cut.

The downside is limited distribution and sometimes not enough energy to promote the book properly. If I had a publisher, they would get the book into stores for me. Instead, I have to personally ship or deliver books to every bookstore that carries my book, which is about 22 independent bookstores across the US and Canada.

Also, if I had a publisher it would be easier for me to get the book reviewed in publications, though I’ve actually had pretty decent luck with that on my own thanks to the support of women of color I know who work in media like Tina Vasquez, Cathy Camper, and Mey Rude.

If I had a press I would be able to give away more copies for free to people that want to review the book. Currently, if I don’t charge people for every individual copy of the book that’s printed then I lose money because I am paying for the copy out of pocket.

EM: What advice do you have for young people who want to write, build community and create their own art?

NK: Don’t give up. There are going to be a lot of times you feel like giving up and a lot of perfectly good reasons that it seems like you should, but the only way to gain success or any kind of recognition for art-making is to keep doing it. It’s ok to put it on the back-burner when you need to prioritize economic survival or things like taking care of partners, friends, and family, but try to come back to it if it’s really something you want to do.

EM: What do you have in store for book two?

NK: The first year of the podcast (which is what the first book is based on) was fairly heavily Black- and Latin@-focused. In the second year, I’ve tried to include more East Asian, South Asian, Arab and Indigenous artists. The second book is also more focused on women and femmes, particularly trans women.

The themes that are emerging from the interviews are also different. Themes I’m noticing in the second book include bisexuality, religion, and punk rock. For example, Juba Kalamka talks about biphobia in gay male communities and transphobia in queer hip-hop. Vivek Shraya talks about how Hinduism offered spaces where she was celebrated for her femme qualities, which she was punished for almost everywhere else. Martin Sorrondeguy talks about why he still sees punk as valuable, now that’s he’s been part of punk scenes and documenting punk culture across continents for several decades. He also talks about the importance of protest music for his family as young Uruguayan exiles in Chicago.

If the first book was QTPOC 101, this is QTPOC 102. The conversations go deeper and they’re really rich and layered. I hope people will enjoy the second book. I think it will definitely give readers something to chew on intellectually. I hope that it adds nuance to their understanding of the ways oppression works.