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Q&A with the Creators of COLOR

Fresh off making a splash with their inaugural Black History Month issue, the LOHS students behind the monthly zine COLOR are back, this time shining the spotlight on women of color and their stories. Respond to Racism caught up with LOHS seniors Juliana Sahni, Phyllis Chen, and Kamala GhaneaBassiri to discuss their Women's History Month issue, the response so far, why zines are such a powerful medium, and more! (Author's note: Responses are on behalf of all three editors unless otherwise indicated)

What is the theme of the upcoming issue? Why did you choose it?

This upcoming issue is focused on Women’s History Month. We covered women in pop culture, the wage gap, and also wrote pieces for our moms. Kamala also has a piece celebrating Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, which takes place in March.

Have you seen any difference in the discussion around racism in school or in your community since? Do you feel like outside attention has made your peers have to pay more attention to the concerns of students of color and take them more seriously?

We think that this work has opened the eyes of our peers and other adults to a world that was unknown to them before, one that includes rather than excludes people of color and marginalized people. We have not, however, noticed a drastic difference in the discussion or racism in the community, but so far we’ve only seen positive responses to the zine, which shows that people are listening to and understanding the voices shared in the zine.

Have you received any negative feedback? From other students? From adults?

None yet!

What are your backgrounds in writing? Is there anything particularly special to you three about the medium of a zine?

Juliana: I have always enjoyed writing, and I have taken Honors and AP English classes all through high school. I am also an Editor-in-Chief for the literary magazine Reflections. I love the medium of a zine because it provides a lot of room for creativity and expression. It makes both reading and creating it more fun because it is not strictly academic.

Phyllis: I’ve been writing all throughout my life. This year, I’m a copy editor for the school yearbook and I take an AP English class. I think a zine offers more freedom and flexibility than other mediums and also offers a more professional format compared to something like a long Twitter thread or just a stack of essays stapled together. We get to explore our creativity in ways we’re not able to in school.

Kamala: I have taken all of Honors and AP English classes available to me at my school. I write for my high school’s newspaper, Lake Views, and am the Editor-in-Chief for my school’s literary arts magazine, Reflections, where I contribute my own work and showcase some of the most creative voices at LOHS. I also write for the COLOR Zine, which has proven to be my favorite medium to work with because of the freedom it allows. One of the motivating factors that caused me to want to pitch the zine to my friends, was the fact that my voice wasn’t heard in Newspaper when I was suggesting we should cover Black History Month. Instead, we chose to cover President’s Day and not once mentioned anything related to Black History Month in our February issue. I was angry and wanted to channel all of this frustration into something creative and hopefully eye opening for my community. The zine allows me to do that.

Do you see this zine carrying on after you graduate?

We hope so! We’re hoping to hand it down to some passionate underclassmen. Kamala is also planning to continue this work in college.

Have people from other schools or districts reached out to you about how to do similar projects where they’re at? If so, how does that make you feel?

Juliana: One woman I know who is a teacher in another district said that she shared the zine with the teachers in her department, and that was really exciting. I hope that our work can inspire students and teachers in other schools and reach larger audiences.

Down the road, do you see the potential for projects like this to create connections between youth of color throughout the state?

We think there is certainly potential to do so! The students who wrote for our “Beyond the Bubble” section currently attend other schools in the state, so I think we are already making small connections, and hopefully they will continue to grow. One thing that we didn’t anticipate was that a lot of people of color and marginalized people have so much pent up anger and frustration given that their voices are too often overlooked, so I think that having this outlet for people to be able to finally speak their minds is really beneficial for creating connections.

#lakeoswego #lakeoswegohighschool #racism #COLOR #zine #womenshistorymonth #blackhistorymonth

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