Area of Study
Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
My research is rooted in the archival analysis of primary alternative print mediums produced by womxn of color collectives. Through the exploration of numerous databases and archives, I analyzed and explored the different ways in which the written word was, and continues to be, utilized by womxn of color as a site for activism. Focusing on the work of five different womxn of color collectives spanning from 1970-2018, I evaluated works by the collectives Asian Lesbians of the East Coast (ALOEC), Las Buenas Amigas (LBA), The Groit Press (African Ancestral Lesbians), the book #NotYourPrincess Voices of Native American Women and select works published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. I sought out womxn of color collectives that produced written word in differing forms as a branch of their activism, or written works that were formed by collective womxn of color voices. Although only focusing on a few collectives and works that encompass the style, purpose and prose of alternative press texts, I was inspired and informed by numerous works of many powerful womxn of color collectives, authors, poets, artists and visionaries. One of the goals of this project was to uncover written word by voices less heard of, that brings light to marginalized experiences of womxn of color. I focused on understanding the different forms of written word as they relate to collective social change by historically contextualizing the different works and discovering the ways in which different womxn of color groups used similar techniques to transmit stories throughout time. Through this, I began to see the ways in which the purpose, ideologies, and efforts to reach target audiences converged and diverged throughout time. Through the power of written word, readers and future authors are encouraged to challenge ideas of the dominant society and simultaneously engage in the many community networks of powerful womxn of color: coalescing into the future of revolutionary writers and thinkers.
Written word in various forms possesses the power to incite change among different marginalized communities. The works I focused on not only inspire and validate the narratives of many oppressed peoples, but also emphasize the multitude of identities that live beneath the encompassing umbrella of womxn of color. For example, many works I read by queer womxn of color described the uniquely intense forces of marginalization experienced beneath multiple forms of oppression. From the lack of representation in media, books, magazines, to the regularity of misconstrued, essentialized, romanticized or exoticized perceptions of womxn of color, there are few to no outlets that highlight the incredibly rich histories of so many individuals and their communities. Third-party mediums, alternative presses, and other print subcultures offer a way to transcend the confines of patriarchal, euro-centric, and academic lenses. By analyzing the different ways in which different types of alternative print were utilized from 1970-2018, we can see how creative and unique voices were lifted-up through new spaces completely open to all forms of expression and testimony. Following the civil rights era, the emergence of womxn of color collectives and their prolific written works took form in each time period differently. From alternative newspapers, zines, manifestos, and books, similar tactics and values persisted. These ideals typically aligned with the alternative presses from earlier time periods which valued personal stories, collaborative womxn of color voices and questioning the status quo.
The culmination of my research project takes form in the creation my own zine, informed by the many works I evaluated by different womxn of color. Seeking to understand and recreate the stylistic similarities and differences in the works I read over the summer, I tried to climb inside the minds of revolutionary womxn of color writers as we know them to be. The zine I created represents narrative examples of my findings, comparison among different communities, and strings that connect different womxn of color communities. My own original illustrations are inspired by the hand-drawn style and unique imagery present in the newsletters of various womxn of color collectives. I would also like to acknowledge the limitations of my project. Not every marginalized voice falling under the large term “womxn of color" is present in this attempt to draw attention to the rich stories often omitted from history. Womxn of color includes a huge diversity of identities, cultures, experiences and intricacies that exist within and without the usage of written word as a form of recorded history. I hope my zine carves out a purposeful space showing the ways in which so many unique voices intersect and stem from each other across time.
Yee, Lenora, "Womxn of Color in Print Subculture: 1970-2018" (2019). Summer Research. 357.
University of Puget Sound
African American Studies Commons, Asian American Studies Commons, Chicana/o Studies Commons, Ethnic Studies Commons, Fiction Commons, Illustration Commons, Indigenous Studies Commons, Latina/o Studies Commons, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Commons, Nonfiction Commons, Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Poetry Commons, Women's Studies Commons