"I think that in order to struggle you have to be creative. In my life, creativity has been something that has sustained me; it awoke my spiritual struggle." - Assata Shakur : : : "On Struggling" is a collective zine project by people of color with the intent of sharing personal narratives of struggle with culture, identity, white supremacy, mental health in our communities, modes of self-care and more.

Who You Gonna Call: Not the Police!

            Yesterday, around 7pm as the sun was beginning to set, I was exiting the beach near my house with my dog on leash as I, and many residents of my Rogers Park neighborhood, do on a daily basis. I’ve lived here for over 8 years and being able to walk to the waters edge with my dog is one of the reasons why I like living where I live. As I was trying to walk home, I saw a bike cop looking at me as I reached the sidewalk. Bike cops are a new addition to our north-side neighborhood that our Alderman and Police Superintendent have recently heralded at a community forum on violence as a great new safety addition to our lakefront. The bike cop started saying “Hey, come over here I wanna talk to you.”

            I had my headphones on and didn’t realize at first that he was talking to me. Also, it felt like a creepy pick up line so I kept walking. Then, he said it again, this time more loudly. He then proceeded to interrogate my presence at the beach asking me questions about where I was from and where my ID was. I was wearing a Bull hat and ironically a t-shirt from Shining Soul that said “Hip Hop is Resistance”. Maybe I didn’t look like I belonged to the new vision of the lakefront that Joe Moore and the super-intendant envision for our community. When I failed to produce and ID he told me that it was illegal to walk my dog on the beach and to consider this a warning.


photo taken minutes before interaction with bike cop.

            I tried to post about this interaction on facebook but my status got deleted when it was interrupted by a phone call. So, after the call I simply wrote “F*&$ the Police” as my status as a means of venting. Almost instantly, some people who are cops themselves started to take offense to my status. One asked me if I would say the same thing to the families of cops who were killed in the line of duty. I posted a link to the Chicago Tribune’s recent report of 5 people (two in my neighborhood) being shot over the weekend by the Chicago Police Department. Then she and some of her friends resorted to name calling and throwing down the gauntlet which is so often used in these debates by cops and other pro-police communities—“Who you going to call when bad stuff happens?”

            The following is the response I wrote, but decided not to post on facebook and instead share it here.

            To answer your question of who do we call when bad stuff happens if not the police, I turn to a question that a mentor of mine who does anti prison-to-pipeline work often poses when asked the same question repeatedly by people who can’t envision that there can be alternatives to calling the police. This response is often times cited by mainstream society and media as the ONLY thing we can do. I have to admit, I used to be one of those people who couldn’t envision an alternative to dialing 9-1-1 when things went down. Although, this mentality leaves us with one option that is slow and sometimes alleviates the situation for a few hours or days— but never seeks to attend to the roots of the violence which sparked the call in the first place. Yes, for some people, calling the police yields the desired effect. Generally these people are from a certain neighborhood, or class, education, lifestyle, etc. Yet, depending on where people live they will tell you all the reasons why they don’t call the police. For example, the cops don’t show up fast enough or at all in certain neighborhoods, when/if the police to do come the survivor is re-victimized by the officers (slut shaming, excessive use of force, etc.), unintended consequences accrue afterwards like evictions from housing, their families are torn apart due to integration with DCFS, loss of benefits, criminal records that then prevent people from attaining jobs, ICE getting called, and as we see this weekend and most weekends in cities where a police force is inserted amongst low income communities of color—you may even end up a widow or a parent to a dead relative when the police get involved.

            How does this strengthen our communities? Who do the police serve and protect? Who have they historically negated to serve and who have they historically attacked? How does this racist, classist, and sexist legacy show up today amongst cops in our kids’ schools and in our neighborhoods? There are linkages in these histories and I trace them back and forth along the pathways of blood that spill from (almost always) black and brown children’s limp bodies who lay on the streets (and sometimes the floors of their own homes) in places like Chicago, New York, Detroit, Miami, Oakland & Los Angeles. So to your point that the color of the 5 people’s skin who were shot this weekend alone by CPD doesn’t matter is a null point because as a feminist and anti-racist member of my community—I have been trained by those who I look up to like bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Grace Lee Boggs, Mariame Kaba, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Kimberly Crenshaw, Cherie Moraga, Beth Ritchie etc. that you can never tease out ones race from other intersecting factors such as their race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. One’s race and class is always already intertwined and on full display.

            The Young Women’s Empowerment Project compiled years of youth led participatory action research by administering forms to fill out about their experiences with institutions in Chicago to marginalized young folks across the city. What their research found was that the institutions and social service agencies in the city meant to help people like them often had the opposite effect. The Chicago Police Department ranked highest as the #1 institution to cause these young folks harm. Hospitals being #2.


Your question of who do you call when bad stuff happens also reminds me of the introduction to the Dr. Beth Ritchie’s book Arrested Justice which details how white and black women’s disappearances are treated disproportionately different by the media and the police. It also details the story of a woman from Cabrini Green who after most of the buildings were torn down and her neighbors and community had been dispersed across the city and suburbs was repeatedly sexually assaulted by CPD police officers. There are personal narratives from young people that mirror this as well in YWEP’s above mentioned report. So when you ask the question of who do you call when bad stuff happens I respond how Mariame Kaba would who asks back—how would you respond if you caught your sister or brother robbing you? You don’t call the police, you work things out. You have compassion for their situation and try to understand where they are coming from. You don’t call the police and hope they are thrown away in Cook County because you know they have friends and family that care about them and sometimes even rely on them. I also respond to your question with a question of my own: Who do you call when the police are doing the bad stuff? Who do the parents of the 5 people shot this weekend by CPD call? It’s time for restorative and transformative approaches to violence; approaches that don’t utilize locking and throwing away bad people because a community is only as strong as its most marginalized member. If we throw away the people who a community most, we are losing out on opportunities to learn and grow together about what it means to be alive and well in this racist, classist, queerphobic and ableist society. 

Thanks Sarah-Ji for reminding about this resource for alternatives to calling the police by Chain Reaction: http://alternativestopolicing.com/

Also, if you’re in rogers park tonight (or in Chicago) there is a roundtable discussion about police brutality happening as apart of a new monthly series of talks 

 ~written by Brown & Proud Press collective member Pidgeon.

"POC Zine-Making and Self-Preservation" Workshop
with MOONROOT and Brown & Proud Press 
I <3 Print Media and Transformative Arts Tracks  
Allied Media Conference, Detroit, June 21, 2014. 

A week delay but it’s done! Here are some photos from the workshop and a link to the collectively made zine that everyone snapped on!! Hope everyone learned a few things about putting together a zine and the importance of having our own intentional spaces/documenting our stories as QTPOC. We are honored to have had that opportunity to share space with ya’ll and to hear your words of struggles, strength and healing. 


poc zine-making & self-preservation workshop at the AMC!

for folks who made a collective zine w/ @moonrootzine & us: meet us at 12:45 in mcgregor (by food table) to see the zine!!!!

comin&#8217; out from winter hibernation with a bang! come join us at our joint workshop with moonroot! we&#8217;d love to hear your challenges and strategies too!! *note: this is a POC-identified only session 

comin’ out from winter hibernation with a bang! come join us at our joint workshop with moonroot! we’d love to hear your challenges and strategies too!! *note: this is a POC-identified only session 

BLACK KID IN THE CANDY STORE: Call for Submissions


Hey! We’re two Black queer cis femmes putting together a zine archiving the experiences of Black queer and trans folks with non-monogamous and/or polyamorous relationships. In the past couple of years, both of us have had experiences with non-monogamy and found the vast majority of resources…

signal boost! 

strugglin' & carin'


On Struggling, Issue #2: Self-Care

Various contributors, ed. Monica T, Brown and Proud Press

28 pages at half-letter size

$5 from Brown Recluse Zine Distro

It seemed to me like self-care really came into its own in 2013, at least in a certain segment of the zine-writing, internet-reading…

Lily Pepper runs a zine review blog and took the time to review Issue #2: On Struggling Self-Care! Thanks, Lily! 


Rough Cut!
POC Zine Reading + Workshop
Come check it out before you go off to Chicago Zine Fest!

Chicago folks, check it out!! Also folks coming from out of town for Chicago Zine Fest should also check it out! 


Rough Cut!

POC Zine Reading + Workshop

Come check it out before you go off to Chicago Zine Fest!

Chicago folks, check it out!! Also folks coming from out of town for Chicago Zine Fest should also check it out! 

Students of Color at UIC’s Urban Elementary Education Program Speak

There’s something incredibly refreshing about being present in a room where people of color are expressing some of their deepest insecurities through testimonies while simultaneously calling all the shots, exposing truth to power, and making demands with not one sign of hesitation towards a room full of their academic faculty, staff and peers.

Last night, students of color at UIC led a public, student-led forum in the UIC Urban Elementary program to discuss unsettling experiences in their program surrounding racial dynamics, white privilege and accountability. The event began with reflections from several students of color that immediately moved me to tears as I could fully relate to many of the experiences expressed. The path to college (or any desired educational goal) for brown and black folks is a perilous, strenuous path, brimmed with self-doubt, anxiety, and systemic obstacles that make many folks run the opposite way, understandably so. You’re not alone if you’ve ever been told growing up that you’ll most likely turn out to be a “teen mom statistic” because you’re a young, working-class brown girl, or if you’ve felt like you weren’t suppose to be “here” anymore (as in alive) because you’re a young, brown boy in Pilsen. One powerpoint slide the students presented included the quote “You know people of color in this program don’t have to work as hard”, made by a UIC College of Education Cohort* Student. Another powerpoint slide included the quote “N***as are dumb”. This quote was found written on the third floor men’s bathroom in the College of Education just days prior to the forum. A few students shared their experiences with the “Privilege Walk”** in which they witnessed their white peers laughing and joking as they continuously hit the wall of the room because they had to step forward so much. One POC student, filled with visibly painful guilt as she spoke, expressed how she lied and stepped forward on a statement that wasn’t true out of sheer embarrassment, followed by her then witnessing another POC student rush out of the room in humiliation because he had to step backwards so much.

These experiences are raw and run deep. They are hard to articulate and once the words are finally excavated from the depths of our bellies, it is as if our worlds are laid bare but our ground made a little more secure. Testimony after testimony, I could feel the consensus in the audience; heads nodding, fingers snapping, noses sniffing, tears shedding. I could feel the indestructible strength growing larger between the students of color at the front of the room from my seat in the audience. 
Six demands were declared, directed towards the UIC College of Education, UIC Financial Assistance Office, UIC Admissions Office and the UIC Office of Diversity. Demands included meetings with previously-stated offices and departments, 8 Urban Elementary Education full-ride scholarships to black high school seniors or transfer students, a holistic mentorship program specifically for students of color in the Urban Elementary Education cohorts, and fully-funded monthly colloquiums, just to name a few. Students in the audience were then invited to speak out if they wished, and we heard even more shared experiences of feeling isolated, doubted, shamed, and longing for more accountability and transparency in the department. 

I tend to often find myself in spaces where white folks are organizing events around systematic oppression, getting angry or fired up in discussions over racism, or reading books by people of color and having study groups over them. While these are all really awesome things that should always be happening, I don’t always feel the most comfortable or content in those spaces. I feel like an observer, an outsider, nodding my head in agreement but knowing that my purpose or undertaking is not the same as theirs and so I am just present. And so last night, when this classroom space was transformed by people of color and I listened to their stirring testimonies, their urgent concerns for action, and the demands declared, I couldn’t help but just cry. The creation of these spaces are critical to our survival. 

Sarah Gonzalez ended with a poem by one of her former Spencer Elementary 8th grade students, Hakeem Fleming. It summarized the sentiment of the forum perfectly, questioning interpersonal and systemic oppression, privilege and the fears that come with living as a person of color in our racist society. It ends on the following quote:  

"The police want us bad, the judge hate us more,
The jury think we guilty before we walk thru the door
but our biggest fears we die before we turn 24
Now every law that’s passed is gonna sink us more
And every time we go to jail, ya’ll get paid tho
But when we ask for help, ya’ll just slam the door
They say our president is Black but we only got
ourselves & that’s real tho
I know ya’ll hate our guts, that’s how you feel tho
But ya’ll ain’t got to like us, just let us live tho, 
And cuz we black don’t mean we steal tho, 
and cuz we from the ghetto, don’t mean we dumb bro,
We just as smart as ya’ll 
but ya’ll don’t want the world to know” 

Much love and strength to Brown & Proud Press collective member Sarah Gonzalez and the other strong students of color that organized this forum. It has inspired and shifted the earth more than you can imagine. 
- Monica Trinidad 



*A cohort is a core group of students that you will work and study with as a group for the entire course of your program of study. 
**Privilege Walk is an activity that examines unearned privilege and power. Statements are made and folks either take a step forward or backward depending on whether the statement pertains to them or not. Some examples of statements include “If there were more than 50 books in your house growing up, take one step forward” and “If you were ever stopped and questioned by the police because of your race, take one step back”


Ryan Young Fuses Culture, Pride and Fashion together with INDIGENEITY. 

View and read about Ryan Young’s photo project, INDIGENEITY, featuring native students attending UW-Madison.


(via mijajaja)


coyolxauhqui &lt;3


coyolxauhqui <3