other is a new publication created with the purpose of giving people of colour (POC) a space to express themselves in any way they see fit. In a roundtable discussion in Purdy Crawford, Marissa Cruz, a third-year fine arts student, pitched the idea as a reaction to the lack of representation of POC voices within the Sackville community. The publication exists as an online space that enables POC to share their uninhibited perspectives.
POC have historically and contemporarily not been able to do so through the written word, art and almost all modes of expression due to respectability politics. Respectability politics refers to the public and self-policing of people of colour in their expressions of their lived experiences. The policing pushes POC to appeal to and become part of the mainstream rather than challenge the mainstream for a failure to accept difference.
Cruz remembers being a bit nervous about this idea at first. Her apprehension was largely fueled by the idea that people would believe that her efforts were racist and there would be comments about “reverse racism.” However, she was greeted with many positive responses, one being from Kavana Wa Kilele. Wa Kilele immediately supported the idea of creating the publication and started taking the steps to make other a reality. “This is something we need at Mt. A,” said Wa Kilele. “There are very few POC.… We wanted to give a place for people to speak without being drowned out.”
As for managing the page, Cruz wants “to have as many people on board who are POC.” Wa Kilele and Cruz now work collaboratively as co-editors and welcome any other POC at Mt. A and in Sackville to get involved. Chao Yi Liang, a third-year philosophy student is the newest member to join the other editorial team. Liang explained he has experienced an internal dilemma of being misunderstood in regards to his first language within socialization. “Those who might understand me, do not understand my first language; and those who speak the same language may not understand me,” said Liang. “Maybe conversations are just going on somewhere I do not notice. I want to figure it out, and see what I can do.”
Cruz and Wa Kilele plan on securing a website domain name, printing a small run of copies and potentially paying contributors. They will not to be applying for funding through the University for their publication. In their perspective, they don’t want the school to tokenize their contributors for the goal of looking more diverse and culturally sensitive. Instead, Cruz and Wa Kilele have been fundraising independently. “We don’t want older, cisgender, white men to look at this project that is not for them and be the deciding voice as to whether this publication is necessary [in the world] or not,” said Cruz. “It feels wrong to look for help from an institution that is also one of the inspirations to start the project because of its oppressive nature.”
other is not just solely for POC here at Mt. A and in Sackville. “We want it to be as far-reaching as possible,” said Wa Kilele. POC can submit through any medium of expression they wish, including music, videos, poetry, paintings, anecdotes or essays. Furthermore, Cruz and Wa Kilele encourage individuals to write in their own languages. They understand and value the importance of sharing and keeping the integrity of one’s own culture.
Wa Kilele and Cruz both also acknowledge that this world is not a utopia. “Both Kavana and I, as an example, have faced and will continue to endure different forms of racism based on our backgrounds.” said Cruz. “Thinking about the complexities of colourism, class, sexuality, disability… race will never be a singular identity because it is connected to other parts of an individual.”
Cruz and Wa Kilele thought that the name other was fitting because of the nature of today’s world. “We are alienated. We are pushed aside, emotionally, physically, spiritually … pushed to the side,” said Wa Kilele. The name other therefore recognizes the “others” and purposefully gives them a platform to voice their opinions. POC are pushed aside daily by a society that is still rooted in white supremacy and that continues to see them as something outside the status quo. Tenea Welsh, also a student at Mt. A, believes that other will break down barriers of the unknown between POC and white people. It will give white people a place to learn, listen and understand POC, and not necessarily reply. Most importantly, it will give POC a place to express themselves and a platform that broadcasts their words, which are too often silenced.
For more information or to submit to the journal, go to otherpublication.weebly.com. The editors will also be holding events in Sackville, so be sure to like the Facebook page, “other: writings and art from people of colour” to stay up to date.