Tag Archives: Zines

Getting Real About Decolonizing Travel Culture

Hey denizens of everywhere,

I wrote an essay on decolonizing travel culture as the introduction to Muchacha Fanzine’s Decolonize Travel issue and just published it on Medium. Give it a read, print it out and fold it into your passport books, critique and analyze it, share or shade it, or comment below. A slice:

How we move through the world, whether it’s how we or our ancestors came to be where we are now; a trip to the bodega as a visibly trans woman of color at night, or to countries we have no connections to but are guests in, varies phenomenally from person to person, but those journeys are all informed in some way by capitalist imperialist cishetpatriarchal white supremacy.

In “getting real” about this topic, I wanted to reiterate some points that I see getting lost in posts and such about “decolonizing travel” that are necessary to the discourse. I don’t want this to be some sort of trend or shorthand for “diversity.” Central to this is…

If communities don’t have sovereignty or the self-determination to shape how they want their cultures to be consumed or communicated, their economies to be governed and their environments to be treated, then tourism and travel culture are only a continuation of imperialist practices.

Read the essay in full here.

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Stay True to Your Roots #Dispatch: Miyuki Baker

 

I’VE BEEN CHATTING with travel writers, activists and personalities of color about their experiences navigating the media industry and the globe with an intersectional lens, while exploring themes like power, privilege, place, and identity, themes that are rarely touched on in the mainstream travel space. Read previous #Dispatches here.

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Miyuki is a resident of the place where circles overlap. As a queer, multi-racial/lingual female mixed-media artist, she is happiest when working with people who embrace intersectionality and creativity. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 2012, she received the Watson Fellowship to travel the world in search of queer artists and activists and made 8 zines highlighting what she learned under her publishing house Queer Scribe Productions.  She is a freelance artist, journalist, barber, translator, seamstress, lecturer and performer. Contact her at heymiyuki at gmail dot com.

Bani Amor: Tell us about yourself. How would you describe what you do?

Miyuki Baker: I’m a queer woman of color artist, activist and explorer.  I make things and tell stories in the hopes that they will shed light on our shared humanity.

BA: How does place influence/factor into your work?

MB: Since I’ve been on the road since May 2012, I’d say place influences my work quite a bit. I feel like the work of documenting and chronicling what I see and experience in new places is heavily affected by the fact that I’m parachuting in and then leaving a couple of months later. It forces me to make intense connections quickly and try to minimize the feeling of dislocation for myself.  It makes me think about the outsider/insider perspective a lot and to be sensitive to/respectful of the local politics of the place I’m in.

BA: Tell us about Queer Scribe Productions and the International Art/Activism Zine Project.

MB: In May 2012, I started a 14 month trip around the world to make zines about queer art and activism. I ended up going to 15 countries and making zines about 8 of them which you can see in full color at queerscribe.com I was particularly interested in finding how the local culture, politics, history, geography etc. affected the media used by artists and activists in queer communities. For example, the opening of a queer film festival in Bangalore, India has encouraged many more locals to try their hands at film making.

I also performed in most of the countries I visited as a way to give back to communities, but most of the time I was trying to meet as many different kinds of queer artists and activists, attending events, lectures and festivals.

BA: Did you encounter any challenging conditions while traveling with your project?

MB: Initially it was that I had my camera, laptop and cell phone stolen within the first couple of months of my trip. I’d say I got over each episode pretty quickly but there were moments where I wanted to put more into the zines but couldn’t because I didn’t have a personal computer. I made all of the zines on borrowed computers or in internet cafes. Ultimately, it was because I didn’t have an electronic barrier that I was able to jump into more social situations so it was a blessing in disguise.

Other than that, my first couple of weeks in Buenos Aires were rough because despite how overt gay culture is there, it felt extremely commercial and not at all what I was expecting. It took me a lot longer there than anywhere else to find any radical queer activists who welcomed me.

BA: What did you learn about international queer communities, if anything?

MB: I’d hope that I learned something about international queer communities after 14 months of focusing on it 😉 It’s almost too daunting to say anything in such a small space but I’ll say that I learned the importance of both staying true to your roots (or revitalizing your roots/indigenous traditions) and also adapting. Things are always in flux but I found the sticky tentacles of colonization contaminating most places. In those situations you just have to find a happy medium! And many vibrant queer communities around the world were doing just that 🙂

 India Zine
BA: Why did you choose zines to be the medium for your project? How would it have been different otherwise?

MB: I specifically chose zines for their DIY and low-budget nature (except the time when I printed in color–eek!). I wanted a medium that wouldn’t be pretentious and could be easily/cheaply distributed.  I found that performing was great on site, but to share different stories, I can’t imagine using anything other than zines.

BAWhich QTPOC* artists/writers/projects inspire your work? What would you like to see more of?

Aami Atmaja, Tania de Rozario, Louise Chen, Elisha Lim, Aryakrishnan Ramakrishnan…
I’d like to see more collaborations!

BA: Anything you’d like to add before we wrap up?

Subscribe to my illustrated blog at heymiyuki.wordpress.com where I draw and write about travel, art and food every week 🙂

Also, I’m raising funds to become a yoga teacher. Visit my campaign at igg.me/at/miyukiyoga to see my amazingly edited (just kidding, I did it on iMovie) film and support me in exchange for zines, custom portraits, prints and more!

Germany The Queer Edition
* QTPOC – Queer and/or Trans People of Color

Help Me Get to VONA!

hey folks,

so today is the first day of my Indiegogo campaign, which I’m launching to help me get to VONA this June!

Click Here to Donate!!! 

About Me

I’m a queer, disabled, mestiza travel writer, photographer and editor from Brooklyn by way of Ecuador who has been transient for about 11 years. I fund my adventures by crafting non-commercial indie travel media at the crux of race, place and adventure, but for the past 3 years, all my cash saved from dead-end jobs has gone to paying for my extensive medical care.

About VONA

VONA/Voices is the nation’s only multi-genre workshop for writers of color, and I’m lucky to have been accepted to join in this June! I come from a single-parent, working-class, immigrant household in New York, and opportunities like this are rare, Even if I had finished high school and gone to college, I still wouldn’t have gotten a writing coach of color who focuses on travel! Spaces like these are really important for people like me in this white, straight, male-dominated industry.

The Gist

Since 2011, I’ve been struggling with chronic pain in the right side of my body, emanating from tears in my shoulder. Without access to health insurance in the States, I’ve been traveling back and forth to Ecuador (where my family is from) for treatment, and underwent surgery last Fall. Though it was unsuccessful, I still owe over $1,000 for it, and continue to pay out of pocket for medical expenses. Since the pain has expanded toward my right hand, writing for more than 30 minutes a day (as well as basic functions) has become impossible, meaning I can’t work for a living. I’m stuck in a situation where I can’t pay for my healthcare and can’t get better without it. Lame!

But I’m not asking for help with my medical costs. A flight from Ecuador to California runs about $700 (with luck) and though the fine folks at VONA have fronted half of my tuition in financial aid, I still owe them $300. I’m asking for at least $900 to help with these costs – but anything at all would be mad mad mad appreciated!

In exchange, I’m offering my zines, photos and writing services as perks!

The Deal

Guess what: being super critical of the tourism industry and writing weird travelogue-type creative non-fiction does not have me rolling in dough. I’m ultra-niche – queer, mestiza, broke, disabled, female; I travel the world alone and give no fucks. I’m pretty shameless about the way I live my life, but recognize when it’s time to ask for some help!

What’s important to remember is that voices like mine are squelched every single day, that there aren’t many folks doing what I’m doing. Things can and should be different. This is where you come in!

Other Ways You Can Help

Let’s be real – I’ve seen a lot of campaigns like this that I couldn’t afford to support due to lack of funds, but there are other ways you can help. Share, like and comment on Facebook, follow me on Twitter and Tumblr, purchase a zine on Etsy, follow, like, comment and reblog my stuff on WordPress, or shoot me an e-mail at heyitsbani at gmail dot com. Shout out and connect!

Click Here to Donate!!!

Super Mega Ultra

Hey people! I’ve got so much to share. First off, I landed back in the motherland (Ecuador) last Tuesday night after 7 tough months of Polar Vortex Lyfe in NYC, and couldn’t be happier to be back. After some much needed beach time and catching up with the fam, I’ll be renting a room in Quito for 2 months – so hit me up if you’ve got any leads.

Secondliest, I’m happy to announce that the fine folks at VONA/Voices have accepted me into their program in Berkeley this June! VONA is the nation’s only multi-genre workshop for writers of color and this is the first year they’ve got a travel writing track going on (with Faith Adiele) so I was quick to apply. Other writers I’m mad about – like Staceyann Chin, Patricia Smith and Junot Diaz – will be there too. So I’m stoked.

My person on the back of a truck, circa 2012
My person on the back of a truck, circa 2012

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for a while, then you know that I’m almost always broke. For about 3 years now, I’ve been struggling with a chronic pain condition in my shoulder, and I’m here in Ecuador to make use of the healthcare – which still costs quite a bit – and for which I’ll be paying out of pocket. I had surgery last fall (which I’m still paying for) but unfortuntaely, it wasn’t successful, and the pain has extended to my right hand, making regular writing (and therefore making money through work) pretty impossible. But I’m trying to stay positive.

The Fine Folks at VONA were able to grant me some financial aid (THANKS!) but I’m still struggling to pay the remainder of tuition and buy a plane ticket out there. I’ll be starting an Indiegogo campaign in one week to raise the funds to get me there, and any help would be super mega ultra appreciated!

I’ll be launching the campaign in conjunction with an interview series where I discuss race, place, media, belonging, community, diaspora, exile and adventure with other travel writers and bloggers of color and poc thinking about these things, right here on the wonderful platform that is this website. So if you want in, please get in touch. Muy exciting!

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“The Struggle”, from Philly’s Magic Gardens

In other news, the second issue of my travel zine Everywhere All The Time is out and available for order on my Etsy shop Boom For Real Press, so pick ’em up! If you ordered the first issue, waited a long time to receive it and I promised you the second issue free, hit me up! I’m also up for trades (anything related to travel, disability, qpoc lyfe, or latinx shit is cool!)

Finally, you should check out The Body of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a profile I recently wrote for Nowhere Magazine’s blog about how place permeated the artist’s work.

And that’s all for now. Stay tuned with all the goings on going on on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter @bani_amor. Say that 5 times fast.

Everywhere All The Time #2 Now Available on Etsy!

Everywhere All The Time #2: Bright Sunny Days, Dark Sacred Nights is the second issue of my travel media zine featuring stories from a year spent traveling and living in Ecuador. From hiking in the northern highlands to a shack on the Pacific coast, the zine spans terrain, time and mood through text and black and white photos. The writing is influenced by my identities – queer, mestiza, POC, feminist, writer, weirdo – and is cut by quotes from Junot Díaz, Gloria Anzaldúa and James Baldwin. 36 pages, typewritten/handwritten and some computer writing, black and white with color cover. Order here!

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Year of the Bum II

here’s the second part of my top 20 photos of 2013 thing. if you’re new here, all of them were taken in ecuador where i lived from august 2012-september 2013. these are my favorites because they’re attached to good memories and saturated in natural, heavy hues. they don’t represent a balanced look at my year,  the majority of which was spent in front of a laptop surrounded by a million people in a grungy apartment. since i was undocumented most of my time there (working on getting my papers through my mom’s citizenship) i couldn’t leave the country. staying put was tough for me – a year may not seem like a lot to most folks – but ecuador is an awesome country to be stuck in. though i was hungry and had zero cents most of the time, i eventually started getting published, got my papers and had mad adventures. so fuck yeah.

Bright Sunny Days, Dark Sacred Nights

had to post this again ’cause of some technical shit. nevermind! this is what i meant by “cutting up celestial maps” last week, some scans of the forthcoming issue of everywhere all the time (EAT?) now i just have to print all the text out on vellum in a way that makes sense. in other news, i got a day job and can now take care of my financial bizness/work on my writing without worrying about the bills. let me know what you think of the layout, or any other advice you zine sages might have.