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Best Compilation Zine

Blacknesses Between Us

Bishara Elmi (ed.) (Toronto, ON)

As with any new project, there were definitely some learning experiences and growing pains along the way with this whole Zine Awards process. We will for sure edit and expand the categories of entry for next year, but this year the judges decided they couldn’t wait to carve out a new category for the Best Compilation Zine. With so many zines by multiple authors across categories, many publications qualified for this new category as well — but this one stood out above all.

A zine bringing together the writing and art of black youth in the Greater Toronto Area, Blacknesses Between Us represents exactly the kind of transformative, collaborative project that is possible through the zine artform.

“This zine project came about because a friend and I, every time we got together, we comforted each other about the microaggressions and daily anti-blackness in our lives,” says editor Bishara Elmi a multidisciplinary artist, writer, educator, and public speaker currently residing in Toronto by way of Mogadishu. “She mentioned, let’s do a zine on this at some point and I said I would rather have a zine for Black love, and we were both excited at the possibilities. From the beginning, we wanted to create a healing space and an affirming space outside of the white lens and also the colonial gaze.”

Adding to the surprise element of this winner of a new category, another zine awards finalist, Ameerah Cragg (Sidai 000), submitted Blacknesses Between Us as a surprise to her friend, Bishara. Which seems fitting to the unique path of this zine.

Elmi works individually and within collectives centering BIPOC youth, women and femmes voices and stories and has created many spaces for these types of storytelling and skill sharing to take place. Her approach to zines is similar to so many others of the finalists — make what you want to see in the world!

“I don’t mean to sound like Shia Lebouf; however, zine culture can use all the zines that keep it in existence. Think no one wants to see zines of just cats in clothing? Think again! There is such a huge need for that type of pure wholesomeness!” she urges any prospective zine creator. “You probably have great ideas that should be actualized, especially if it’s cats in clothing zines! Yeah, I’m trying to get more cats in clothing zines out there… sue me.”

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