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From zines to online community: Masala Militia’s one-year anniversary

May 23rd, 2014     by Nish Israni     Comments

Illustration: Erin McPhee

Masala Militia is a year-old Toronto-based, feminist-oriented online magazine, zine, and movement focusing on a variety of topics affecting self-identified brown girls and women of the brown diaspora.

Started by Raisa Bhuyian after getting fed up with the lack of representation of brown girls and women in local Toronto media, arts and online spaces, Masala Militiais an intentional space for anyone of “brown,”Southa Asian affiliated (West Indian, Afro-Caribbean, Indo-East-African/Kenyan/Tanzanian, Malaysian, Singaporean & Indo-Caribbean inclusive) or interested in South Asian/Desi/brown girl-related issues.

At the moment, Masala Militia is rooted in Facebook as a closed group so that anyone can see the group and who’s in it, but only members can see posts. The group is self-moderated and admins can’t keep up with the abundance of posts so it encourages members to be responsible in creating a safe space and to check themselves. Masala Militia is always looking for new admins in order to help monitor the space for potentially oppressive/discriminatory language/posts. That being said, anyone can ask to join as long as they respect the space for who it is meant for.

The group is a prelude to an online-magazine which was the original goal for this movement. Masala Militia believes that there is no essential “brown-ness”/”South-Asian-ness” or that there is any one identifier of South-Asian-ness/”brown-ness” and hopes to celebrate and be in tensions with the rich, intricate, complex, challenging, beautiful, wonderful histories that come with our identities. From film reviews, fashion, essays, opinion pieces, comics, drawings, features, reports, fashion, lifestyle, career, love and horoscopes, Masala Militia seeks to provide a fun, informative and thought-provoking online forum for self-identified brown girls and women of the diaspora, so we can create our own media and be our own role models. While we are situated in Toronto, Canada, Masala Militia is open to anyone located anywhere.

As one of the co-conspirators for this project, it makes me proud to say that Masala Militia has created two compilation zines featuring work from its members and folks who are interested in representing brown girls/women in media and we hope to make more! The first zine focused on identity and the second zine on brown women in academia. Masala Militia is hosting a one year anniversary zine launch and fundraiser on May 25 from 1-4 pm at O’Grady’s on 518 Church Street in Toronto. Come support us, there will be snacks and zines for sale and live performances! For more event info please click here.

Zine cover by: Gurpreet S. Ghag

Tags: activist report, arts, event listings, race and racism

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