Monica Trinidad and Pidgeon Pagonis from the Brown & Proud Press were able to made it down (or rather up) for the 15th Annual Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI. The following is solely Monica’s recap:
I’m currently in the car driving back from Detroit after experiencing the exhilarating blur that was the 15th annual Allied Media Conference. Lots of reflecting is happening in my head right now as I critique (in a constructive way!) my choices, words and movements throughout the conference over the last four days.
Since this was my very first AMC, I went into it just wanting to check out a little bit of everything without any real track or focus. I also had the opportunity to bring my 15-year-old sister to the conference. Since I was really excited about her being surrounded by tons of queer POC, amazing & thought-provoking projects and notions, and the experience of independence from home all for the first time, I was mostly focused on making sure she was comfortable, involved in decision-making processes and having fun!
The first full workshop we attended on Friday was Zine-making Across the Diaspora led by Daniela Capistrano (POC Zine Project), Adela C. Licona (author of Zines in Third Spaces: Radical Cooperation and Borderlands Rhetoric) and a few awesome folks from MOONROOT. We reviewed the historical root of zines and the use of zines in “third spaces”, which was an unfamiliar term for me, but now Adela’s book is officially on my to-read list. I appreciated that the presenters of this workshop really hammered home the fact that a focus on POC zines is not an intervention in white zine culture, but that it’s inherently a part of our historical culture (Ida B. Wells’ zines on lynching, Fire! during the Harlem Renaissance, etc.). It reminded me of the reasons why our own zine project is so important to me. I see our On Struggling zines as a material mode of self-preservation, dismantling isolation, and writing ourselves back into history. Anyway, at the end of the workshop we had the opportunity to create our own mini-zines with the suggested topic of something we’re currently thinking really hard about. I made mine about my dietary restrictions and my sister made hers about costume designing. Also met Joyce Hatton, aka airhornoftruthandlove, a fellow POC zinester that I follow on tumblr who recently mailed me her kickass zines! Fun!
We made it for the tail end of the Looking-Fly-at-My-Size Fashion Re-Design workshop and kind of learned to alter a t-shirt to fit your specific body type. Then we headed over to the middle of TAPS Open Studio where I taught my sister how to block print and we ended up making a cute print to commemorate our Detroit trip.
The second full workshop we went to was on Saturday and it was Blogging from Prison led by some folks from Between the Bars and a Marie Mason supporter. My sis wasn’t too interested in this one but I really wanted to go as I am trying to figure out ways to ascend the standard letter-writing practice (because let’s seriously be real about how a lot of people will not write a letter to someone they don’t know in prison). I came away with some concrete information on how to use various forms of media (audio, visual, blog text) to assist prisoners in making their creative processes more public, while also discussing the fine line between supporting and exploiting. We have a lot of inevitable power in how we represent people in prison (with the way we curate and create their persona through media/mediums) and it’s important to constantly be aware of this dynamic and consistently make sure people understand exactly how they’re being represented in blogs, photos, etc.
My partner and I thought the Gentrification: First Come the Artists workshop was going to be hella interesting and explorative of the concrete ways in which artists aide in gentrifying neighborhoods and how they/we can learn to combat it/be accountable. However, I ended up just being really confused by the abundance of presenters rapidly going through their presentations due to time-constraints in addition to really conflicting messages that were being given (one person from the Bay Area said her organizational members were seen as “perceived gentrifiers by the community” umm.. cause you probably actually were..). However, I will give props to a woman (forgot her name) from Deep Dive Detroit and DeAnna Cummings from Juxtaposition Arts based in Minneapolis for throwin’ down some real talk before I left.
On the last day my sister and I attended the Queer & Trans POC Tumblr Meetup led by Cortez aka glitterlion, during lunch. It looked like it could’ve been a solid group of people but AMC messed up the time on the schedules and we started late, then got moved to another room and ended up losing a good handful of people. Nonetheless, I got to chill in a room with some dope queer POC tumblr folks and it served as a comfortable space to rant and rave about the conference. We met Ayana and Raquel of Queer & Brown in Steeltown and got a beautiful screen print made by them. Can’t wait to check out their podcasts! After that I got to rush over to the Hip Hop, Healing and #idlenomore workshop led by Quese IMC and got my mind pretty much blown by his captivating talk on the beliefs of indigenous people and how important it is to connect with native communities near us. Definitely a great way to end the conference.
I feel as though my focus on making sure my sister was having a really good experience dominated my ability to network more closely with other POC/zine artists and my attendance at more workshops. However, I believe that it was a totally appropriate sacrifice because our youth are hella important, especially my middle-of-nowhere-Indiana little sister who desperately needs spaces like the AMC. I met a handful of dope & creative POC folks and got to see what the AMC was all about and can safely say that I’m pretty into it! Also props to having a Relaxation Room which allowed my sister and I to deal with her stomach pains, my back pains/fatigue, and storing our lunches! Perhaps Brown & Proud Press will do a workshop next year… !
The mini-zine I made at the “Zine-making Across the Diaspora” workshop.
The state of Detroit on someone’s table in the exhibition hall.
Raquel from Queer & Brown writing out our group agreements during the Queer & Trans POC Tumblr Meetup caucus. “have fun/feel shitty if you want”
Quese IMC holdin’ it down during the Hip Hop, Healing & #idlenomore workshop.
Top: a justseeds poster, Middle: my sister block print (we laughed hysterically when we noticed the accidental backwards 3), Bottom: Queer & Brown’s beautiful screen print that we purchased.