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CREATING IN A DYSTOPIA.

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2020 has been a rough one. It's not difficult to plummet into a numb headspace after being holed up for months on end. The oddities and tragedies the year has presented us have hit us all in uniquely intricate ways, and I'd be lying if I said I dodged the bullet of it being a detriment to my own mental health. In every other context of my life, adversity drives me to create-- but this abyss of darkness was... different.

I saw innocent lives being taken. That wasn't new, but it hit me with ten times the ferocity it did in the past. As a BIPOC, I've never had the luxury of avoiding politics, but this time around I became incapable of separating my empathy from my own mental state. I became... sensitive. Hypersensitive. Spending time on anything other than fighting the good fight became attached to feelings of guilt. So I stopped creating for a while.

My heart was broken and bleeding every single day. During protests, my screams turned into sobs. I hit an emotional low I'd forgotten I could reach. No matter how loud I chanted, no matter how often I marched, no matter how hard I fought, no matter how angry I felt-- it felt like I was letting out a blood-curdling scream into a tiny, dark, empty, sound-proof room. 

I needed to seek therapy. But I could not talk. My heart would shoot up to my throat every time I tried. I tried the conventional self-care mechanisms suggested by most layers of the internet. I lifted weights until I tasted blood. I transitioned to a strict raw+vegan diet. I wrote into the early mornings. I read, and read, and read. I was around loved ones, but I was absent. Nothing worked. I could not pull myself out. 

I was lost.

On the night of my most dire relapse, I picked up my camera. I needed to feel. I needed to feel something other than agony.

***

The place creating has in my life changed in 2020. While I worried it was a distraction from issues I saw as more important to the collective human race, I realized that its absence from my life placed me further into the state of devastation the year had catapulted me into. In 2020, creating transitioned from being my passion, to becoming my entire identity. I realized I'd lost myself without it. I realized that my mind and heart began to float rogue against the laws of gravity in its absence. In 2020, creating became a necessary means to equipping myself with the care my heart needed to continue doing what I needed to do in my eternal fight for justice. 

The fight isn't over, and neither is my undying devotion to the realm of creation. I'm sorry I left you for a moment, my darling. My lapse in judgement has only made me more deeply, deeply tethered to you. 

For educational resources and details on organizations that fight for Black lives, click below.

© HINNA RAJA 2020

Here's what I've been up to ever since.

I built my studio.

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I began documenting the state of my mental health into a multi-part series called "BLUE."

I began designing garments.

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...and documenting it.

I worked on my professional weaknesses, and finally understood the complexities of lighting.

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I began actively writing down the areas I could not lose focus.

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To be honest, I began documenting everything. To have the good times to hold onto during the bad.

And with every breath, with every stitch, with every shot, I became a stronger version of myself more critically equipped with the mental wellbeing to continue twice as hard in my pursuits towards justice.

 

This is not a happy ending. "And they all lived happily ever after" will not come until this nation operates under a true democracy, and recognizes every single constituent as an equal body. The fight continues without end until Black and Brown Blood stops hitting the ground.

For materials on how to do your part in our united efforts in parallel with the platforms of the BLM movement, please consult the below resources.

RESOURCES FOR EDUCATION

 

WHAT TO READ

 

Articles:

  • “The Death of George Floyd, In Context,” by Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker

  • “Of Course There Are Protests. The State Is Failing Black People,” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor for the New York Times

  • “This Is How Loved Ones Want Us To Remember George Floyd,” by Alisha Ebrahimji for CNN .

  • The New York Times Magazine’s award-winning The 1619 Project is as important as ever. Take some time to read (or re-read) the entire thing, particularly this essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones

  • “You shouldn’t need a Harvard degree to survive birdwatching while black,” by Samuel Getachew, a 17-year-old and the 2019 Oakland youth poet laureate, for the Washington Post

  • “It’s exhausting. How many hashtags will it take for all of America to see Black people as more than their skin color?” by Rita Omokha for Elle

  • “The Case for Reparations,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic

  • “How to Make This Moment the Turning Point for Real Change,” by Barack Obama in Medium

  • “Black Male Writers For Our Time,” by Ayana Mathis in New York Times, T

 

Books:

 

WHAT TO WATCH

  • The Hate U Give , a film based on the YA novel offering an intimate portrait of race in America

  • Just Mercy , a film based on civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s work on death row in Alabama

  • The 1965 debate between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley

  • An hour on the history of Confederate statues in Nat Geo’s America Inside Out

  • Becoming , a Netflix documentary following Michelle Obama on her book tour

  • Let It Fall , a documentary looking at racial tensions in Los Angeles and the 1992 riots over LAPD officers’ brutal assault on Rodney King

  • When They See Us , a Netflix miniseries from Ava DuVernay about the Central Park Five

  • 13th , a Netflix documentary exposing racial inequality within the criminal justice system

  • I Am Not Your Negro , a documentary envisioning the book James Baldwin was never able to finish

  • Selma , a film that chronicles the marches of the Civil Rights Movement

 

WHAT TO FOLLOW

 

WHAT TO LISTEN TO

  • Next Question’s podcast episode with Jamie Foxx, Michael B. Jordan, and Bryan Stevenson about Just Mercy

  • Still Processing , a New York Times culture podcast with Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morrison

  • Seeing White , a Scene on the Radio podcast

  • Code Switch , an NPR podcast tackling race from all angles

  • Jemele Hill is Unbothered , a podcast with award-winning journalist Jemele Hill

  • Hear To Slay , “the black feminist podcast of your dreams,” with Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom

 

RESOURCES FOR KIDS AND TEENS

 

Watch

 

Read

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely    

ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN THE MOVEMENT

 

The organizations listed below are taking immediate action to support the movement across the country, as well as working to improve the livelihood of Black people via continued financial support, protesting, and policy intervention.

  1. The Black Lives Matter Movement

    1. The BLM movement, founded in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the killing of Trayvon Martin, is a multi-national organization that combats white supremacy through demonstrations, petitions, and online organizing. You can donate here , or donate to the original chapter in Los Angeles through their GoFundMe page here.

  2. Reclaim the Block

    1. Started in 2018, Reclaim the Block organizes the Minneapolis community and council members to move funds from the hands of the police to other areas covered by the city's budget. "We organize around policies that strengthen community-led safety initiatives and reduce reliance on police departments," the organization says in its mission statement. You can donate here to help those on the field protesting.

  3. Black Visions Collective

    1. The 2017-founded Black Visions Collective focuses mainly on expanding Black influence in the Twin Cities metro area and Minnesota, they are also heavily involved in delivering Black Lives Matter protest's mobilization and action plans. You can keep up with them on Instagram , where the group is currently promoting a petition to defund the Minneapolis Police , or donate to the collective in general through this page shared on its website.

  4. Campaign Zero

    1. Funds donated to Campaign Zero support the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide. Support the cause financially here

  5. BEAM

    1. BEAM is an organization working to "remove the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing," according to its mission statement. Support programs that address mental health and healing in Black communities with a one-time donation here , or a monthly contribution here .

  6. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF)

    1. The LDF has fought racial injustice through litigation, advocacy, and public education for over 75 years. Support the organization's continued battle to improve our judicial system here .

  7. The National Association of Black Journalists

    1. Help support Black journalists and media professions by donating to America’s largest group for journalists of color. The organization promotes media diversity and supports workers who have been laid off or struggle to find employment.

Funds to help the victims

During demonstrations and marches, protestors have been chanting "Say his/her name," followed by the names of victims, to highlight our nation's failure to acknowledge, value, and prioritize Black lives. Meanwhile, family and friends of these victims struggle with devastating losses and attempt to honor the victims in ways that America has failed to.

You can donate to these loved ones and support them in their investigations through the GoFundMe pages listed on the official Black Lives Matter donation page, which include the George Floyd Memorial Fund and the Ahmaud Arbery Fund , as well as funds for Regis Korchinski , whose death in Toronto is currently under Special Investigative Unit investigation for police brutality, and Jamee Johnson , who was killed after being pulled over for a seat belt violation.

Local Black businesses and community organizations

Along with the important national causes, you can also support local Black-owned businesses and community organizations. Here's where you can shop and donate in several major cities:

 

BLACK LIVES MATTER

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ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS

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Forever yours,