So this got me thinking to the Ghadar Party, now 100 years since the inception in 1913. Back then, the movement started as a weekly radical newsletter of de-colonizing the subcontinent, not as a party. Their radical movement blossomed out of a ZINE. Rooted in the Bay Area, that zine was so radical that their delivery method wasn't just paper, it was audio - Ghadar activists would memorize the words of the zine, memorize the addresses of where it was to be delivered, and deliver that way, all to avoid being caught and persecuted.
And that got me thinking to the 1970s newsletter The Bridges out UC Berkeley, formed by Indian Students, both full of news and poetry. And that got me thinking of the Black Panther Party and the beautiful artwork that Emory Douglas did on the covers of each of those zines. (This is a collection of some of his art.) And then I thought of the Punjabi poetry carved into the walls of Angel Island between 1910-1940 when the island served as the West Coast's version of Ellis Island (more here).
And then rewind hundreds of years -- I thought the Quran? Well shit. That was a radical zine too. So radical it had to be memorized and passed down from person to person. So radical it was poetic, literally. The Quran was the first radical Muslim zine.
And then fast forward to blogs, and of course, our Totally Radical Muslims zines. We are not just creating words for ourselves - we are building on a legacy of radical zine culture of people of color seeded in California. Sure they called it newsletters or papers, but blogs and zines are simply the modern day version of that. I felt a rush of feeling empowered last night - particularly because I had printed up the 1st draft of the Zine last night to edit, and as the Gidra activists spoke, I had our zine draft sitting on the table in front of me - 1969 or 2013, words are power. A quote that the Gidra folks used back then, one of the founders who passed away at age of 36, his driving quote to make the zine happen is "Power to the Imagination."
check out more from Taz on her blog