Zine-making as storytelling and healing

Zine-making as storytelling and healing

One practice that we try to include in our healing justice practice is to create physical healing spaces for our staff. Our Timeout Tuesdays are reserved for internal meetings, all-staff meetings and a space for reflection. Before the pandemic, we would use one of the conference rooms to open up a healing space with poetry, art making, soothing music and engage in reflection questions.

One of the things we bring into the healing space is zine-making!

Zines have a long history in building networks, sharing knowledge, collaboration, expression and art. And for Black, Indigenous, People of Color and other historically marginalized folks, zines have been a practice of resistance as well. Zines are usually self-published or published by small presses.

For our Colleagues Operationalizing Racial Equity (CORE) team, we see zines as a way to disrupt the white supremacist culture that values only one way of being and knowing. We acknowledge that in professional settings, published white papers and academic reports are almost always prioritized over stories and lived experiences of people of color.

The same way that breathing and body work practice is one of the practices we have incorporated in our anti-racist practice to resist white supremacist culture, we hope with zine making, we can honor stories and knowledge that our staff hold. It is also another way to get out of our head, and connect with our heart!

At a recent session at the Unity Summit hosted by CHANGE Philanthropy, we introduced zines as a body, storytelling and processing tool for participants at our session to channel their reactions and feelings to activities we introduced to the group. Offering zines as a tool for deep processing helps our audience, be that staff or community at large, connect to the work through both personal reflection and then group reflection. Our session was geared around Employee Resource Groups and the zines offered a space for self-reflection where participants could channel and understand their processing thoughts and emotions before sharing out with their affinity groups and the group at large. This practice has served us as a way to create space for our audience to connect back to themselves much like our breathing and body practice does.

Some prompts for zines that we’ve used in our healing spaces:

Questions to reflect on silence (inspired by Audre Lorde “Transformation of Silence into Action”):

  • What are the words you do not have yet? (or, for what do you not have words yet?)
  • What do you need to say? (list as many as necessary)
  • What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own until you sicken and die of them still in silence?
  • Ask yourself, what is the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?

Questions to reflect on accountability (inspired by adrienne maree brown):

Think about a time when you showed up in a conflict with someone in a way you weren’t proud of…

-Write the narrative of the future you want with this person, where you’re at peace in the relationship
-Time travel to a place where this future is possible and ask yourself how you need to change to get there

Some zines for you to explore:
White People Hate Protest
Intersectionality zine
On Confronting and Resisting Anti-Blackness in Ourselves & in our Communities


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