Tagged: women of color

Schoolin’ Life: Mildred Louis

In today’s Schoolin’ Life column, we catch up with illustrator and sequential artist Mildred Louis.

Mildred Louis

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I was fully expecting to have my whole game together! I think growing up there was this idea that once you’re 20, you’re an official adult, and being an adult meant that everything was going to fall into place. Definitely didn’t work out that way though, hahaha.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I think I had a lot of skewed expectations of myself growing up. It took a whole lot of effort and work to rework how I saw myself and to detach the weird expectations I had being a WoC growing up in this society.

What was your first job like?

I worked at a bakery in a slightly well off part of the city. It was okay. In terms of first jobs, it was about as predictable as you can get. Getting by on tips with below minimum wage pay, a lot of intense people who want their coffee a very specific way and/or their cakes made immediately even though they put in the order last minute. It was… a learning experience for sure, hahaha.

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment was at college and I didn’t even have a door for my bedroom! It was a complete stereotypical experience with three other roommates in a two-bedroom (and one office) apartment. We eventually became one of the party apartments on campus which was pretty cool and made for a lot of entertaining memories.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I feel like the answer to this question is kind of complicated. I did in some ways but not like as if there were any major moments that suddenly happened to trigger these changes. It was more like a number of things happening, me learning from them and subsequently growing and changing from them.

In what ways did your friendships change?

Being at the end of my 20s,my friendships have changed a lot. I used to be friends with a lot of people who just kind of fed off of my insecurities. I spent a lot of time trying to feel accepted by people that I ended up letting myself become attached to, people who, at the end of the day, really weren’t that good for me. On a brighter note, I have some of the absolute best friendships I could have ever imagined now in my life, so that was a major plus side!

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I learned to definitely not settle, hahahah! I thought I had incredibly high expectations for a very long time and dated some people who weren’t quite up to par. When you’re in college, there’s a lot of expectation and pressure to date and hook up with people, so you end up rolling into whatever to keep up with people around you.

How did your relationships with your family change?

We talk a whole lot more now than we used to. I think now that everyone’s grown up and doing their own thing, it’s easier for us to connect since we have a greater sense of independence.

How do you feel society viewed you?

In a lot of ways I felt invisible. It always seemed like there were a lot of attempts at erasing myself or my identities because I wasn’t packaged in the way that society was saying I should.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I’ve become significantly more secure in myself! I feel less like I need to go looking for someone to help fill a hole in me or to help reinforce how I feel.

How did you change intellectually?

I became a lot more aware of the things going on around me and even more aware of just how much I do not know.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

It became more secure and defined. I feel more like I’m me instead of being someone that I think a lot of people around me thought I was or expected me to be.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

It’s become in a lot of ways more cynical but also weirdly stubbornly optimistic. Being so connected into the internet means that it’s hard to not be aware of the things going on not just in your own country but internationally as well. It’s hard not to feel like things are getting worse and worse because of it, but I think in a lot of ways, it’s caused me to feel very steadfast in holding on to hope that things can get better.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Hahaha… I’ve had a lot of those but I’m not sure if I’m over them enough to share!

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

I don’t know if I had one singular experience was the biggest disappointment. But I think overall, they just taught me how to avoid being in those situations again

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I didn’t discover her until my slightly mid 20s but ever since then and to this day, it’s probably Janelle Monae. I just really admire how true to herself and her vision she is, as well as how incredibly aware of what kind of impact she can have on her surroundings she is. It’s something that I really hope to embody as I develop my career further.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

I think there’s been a lot of moments that have happened. It’s like the world is finally at this point where we can’t actively sit and deny a lot of the travesties that are happening. The internet has made it hard to ignore and there’s active dialogue happening to hopefully try and change the current state of things.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently? You know, I was a person full of so much regret for so much of my life but I’ve finally gotten to this point where I’ve accepted the things that have happened and, in some really weird way, am grateful that I went through them. I don’t know how things could have been any different but I do know that what I went through got me to where I am today.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Oh boy… I feel like there are a lot of things that have defined the last decade. I mean, the decade has had events spanning from the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement to the Curiosity landing. This decade has been full of incredibly impactful events that I’m not sure you could boil it down to one single story.

Schoolin’ Life: Beldan Sezen

For today’s Schoolin’ Life, we get to know videographer and graphic novelist Beldan Sezen.

Beldan

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

Okay, I’m a graphic novelist and I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I’m into comics, graphic novel, sequential art, cartoons, name it whatever you want, I dig it. I freelance as a videographer, image manipulator and care taker, all jobs which have given me enough space to start my graphic novelist career. My days (and nights) are often spent in the studio.

 

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade? 

I don’t think I had expectations.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

Which society?

What was your first job like?

I started working as lab assistant when I was sixteen. At nineteen, I decided to go back to school so I could apply for a university program. In my twenties, I was studying and had, in addition to a study grant, various side jobs to support me.

What was your first apartment like?

I had a tiny room under a roof in an apartment shared with three other students. It fit a bed, a desk, a closet and bookshelf and had one small roof window. The kitchen was so disgusting that I lived off instant Chinese noodle soups and pizza for quite a while. No, I didn’t feel the urge to clean the kitchen since the other two housemates were fine with it and the third never really showed her face. I was happy and proud to call the room my own.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I came out in my twenties and I moved to a city in another country. I’d say that’s big.

In what ways did your friendships change?

They changed from superficial drinking buddies to more honest and sincere friendships where I could be more like myself. I made some lasting friendships in my twenties.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

Languages. And, in the first part of my twenties, through my male relationships, that I really should be with women.

How did your relationships with your family change?

I became more independent and less involved in family matters and expectations.

How do you feel society viewed you?

Oh I dunno, pick a label…

How did you change emotionally and intellectually?

Emotionally and intellectually, my eyes opened to a much bigger worldview and I’m very happy about that. Since then, I no longer feel the need emotionally to belong to a nation or let myself squeeze into an ethnic concept.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I had my coming out in my twenties, as a lesbian and as a woman of color.

Being aware and more importantly admitting to my sexual and cultural identity did change how I take space in general and in my daily life. I went from being defined to defining myself. I was engaging in a life of my own instead of submitting to one dictated by the terms of the societies I live in.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

It broadened. Luckily!

What was the most embarrassing moment?

Asking a police officer in Manhattan where I could find a cab to go to my hostel because I had that cliché in my mind that it wasn’t safe in NYC. He laughed at me, pointing out that it was just a block away and that I could easily walk! Yeah, I felt embarrassed.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

I think being part of an activist women and lesbian scene did shape me tremendously. It gave me acknowledgment and strength. I saw everyday role models who didn’t look and act in a passive, submissive way but did what they wanted. I hardly ever question myself in regards of gender roles, if I can do things or not. I just start doing and see how far I can get.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you? 

Yes, the rise of Neo-fascism in Germany in the early nineties. It narrowed my perspective and shook my confidence. After a year or three of actively working to fight fascism (in the streets, and in theoretical discussions etc.), I couldn’t see anything else and felt there was nothing else for me to do but fight. It was a very narrow minded and claustrophobic, slightly paranoid feeling which was harmful to my well-being.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Uh-oh, Frank Sinatra lurking around the corner…Regrets: I had a few but then again to few to mention… I had some periods where I was lethargic. It feels like I wasted my (precious) time which I’d rather not have done. Then again, it goes as it goes.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

Too many, so I made a book out of all the stories. The final product, Snapshots of a Girl, will be published this fall by Canada-based Arsenal Pulp Press.

Schoolin’ Life: Alice Meichi Li

For today’s installment of Schoolin’ Life, we check in with illustrator and cartoonist Alice Meichi Li.

20141130_093640

I’m an illustrator who works in both the comic and pop-art gallery world. My art has been in Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Archie Comics, MOCA NY, MoCCA, and various galleries around the country. I’m also a huge geek who grew up on comics and cartoons, finding escapism in them while growing up in one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit. As a queer woman of color, I’m passionate about social justice and have spoken on various panels about women in comics or people of color in comics. You can find me on FacebookTwitter, or Tumblr.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade? In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I told myself that if I hadn’t hit X, Y, and Z goals by the time I was 30, then I should just give up and do something else. But now that I’m 30, I’ve realized I hit so many other goals along the way that I hadn’t even realized were there, that inform and support my overall goals. In many ways, that decade delineation was completely arbitrary and likely spurred on by ageist attitudes in society — which is something that women are far more affected by than men. I know I’d been told on multiple occasions, mostly by men, that my things that denote my value to others (my youth, my appearance, my talent, etc) would magically vanish when I was no longer in my 20s. Thank goodness that I’m far too stubborn to fall for that.

What was your first job like?

My first freelance job was a private commission of a woman imagined as a “goddess of dreams.” It made it into two different illustration contests, but I couldn’t publicize upon my client’s request. I then took my first day-job out of college because freelancing wasn’t earning enough income for me to live in NYC and look financially-stable enough on paper for the U.S. government to approve bringing my fiancé over to the States from England. I worked at Forbidden Planet, pretty much the coolest comic book store in NYC, doing everything that wasn’t straight-up retail (web design, graphic design, social media, finances, HR, admin, shipping/fulfillment).

What was your first apartment like?

My first apartment was this tiny 8’x10′ room in an all-women’s Salvation Army building called the Parkside Evangeline. (It has now been turned into a luxury condo, like so many buildings in NYC.) It was so small that if I set up my painting table to work, I would have to climb over it to get out. Other than the size factor, it was almost exactly like Peggy Carter’s building in Marvel’s Agent Carter, complete with the strict Christian no-men rules. But I loved it because I was floormates with Tintin Pantoja, who was one of my best friends in comics at the time, and taught me so much about the industry. She was an inspiration to be around.

Did you experience any big life changes?

My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly when I was 22, and then I got married about 2 months after that. It wasn’t planned that way. My dad was only diagnosed with stomach cancer after he collapsed 3 weeks before he died. And I legally had to get married within 90 days of my now-husband entering America on a fiancé visa. Everything was out of my hands, and I never felt so helpless in my life. And everything after that was all a blurry tailspin out of the original 5-year plan I had for myself, with me desperately clutching onto any form of security I could.

In what ways did your friendships change?

I took a much more pragmatic approach with friendships. It became less navel-gazey, less prone to over-analyzation, less judgmental, and more about acceptance and supportiveness.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

My early 20s saw the ending of my relationship with my then-girlfriend and the overlap/beginning of my relationship with my now-husband. I think that the previous relationship taught me how to prioritize what I really wanted in a partner by hitting me over the head with unresolved issues that I absolutely never wanted to deal with in a relationship again. And for that, I’m grateful. Even though my husband was living an ocean away, was uneducated, and we were both unemployed at the time and both from poor families… I chose him instead because he had qualities she lacked that were very important to me.

How do you feel you changed emotionally? 

I lost faith in invisible things. I became much more skeptical and less trusting, constantly double-checking everything I was presented with. I came to terms with the fact that death was permanent. The real weight of its permanence never affected me so much before, and began to accept that I may never stop grieving. And if I never stopped grieving, then perhaps happiness would be forever elusive — and I’m at peace with that. It’s ironic that I’m so much less optimistic/idealistic when I was an actual goth.

How did you change intellectually?

I became far more vocal about the injustices I saw in the world, and that I personally experienced. As a teenager, I would passive-aggressively speak in vague terms about the racism and sexism I saw/experienced in my social circles because I wasn’t yet equipped with the right tools and logic to address it in open discourse. My 20s was a long exercise in appropriately identifying these issues and addressing them. I have a lot to learn still, but I’m increasingly excited that more and more people in my generation are interested in shaping the world for the better.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

When I was a teenager, I was internet-popular (as much as one could be before social media) under a fandom-based pseudonym. A lot about how people perceived me was influenced by the character whose name I used rather than who I really was. When I turned 20, I revealed my legal birth name to my network and vowed to make a name for myself based on my true self. Throughout my 20s, there was definitely a theme of getting in touch with Reality and becoming less of a daydreamer/escapist as I was throughout my teens. I was operating under my Real name, pursuing Real goals, and had Reality kicking me in the ass with my dad’s death.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I’ve actually gotten more liberal/progressive — says the girl who once tore up an anti-gay propaganda pamphlet when she was 16 in high school Theology class. There are more resources and more communities out there that support the causes that I’ve always been invested in, and I’m just so fortunate to be able to constantly challenge myself and my perceptions of the world. If I ever stopped learning, trying to become a better person, and do better in terms of my relationship with society… then that’s the day that I no longer deserve to be here.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

If it wasn’t clear before — my dad’s death. After that, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get as much out of this life as I possibly could. None of my spiritual beliefs up to that point prepared me for or relieved me from it. I used to spend so much time over-analyzing everything, finding meaning in everything, but now I focus on getting shit done and moving onto the next task. Life is just too short to spend too much time working towards the imaginary and the undefined.

In terms of a “historical moment”, the Great Recession in 2009 definitely hit me and my peers hard. Suddenly, our financial futures weren’t guaranteed anymore and the stereotype of the Boomerang-Generation Millennial was born. This amplified the sudden clutching-to-security state I found myself in, and I started to get serious about my professional hustle and building a future for myself.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

I have many regrets, but it’s useless to dwell on them. See why above.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

When I got married, I put away the silver-and-amethyst jewelry I’d been wearing since I was a teenager and wore the gold-and-jade jewelry that my mother gave me for my wedding instead. I used to be really into New Age-y concepts like gem-work, and I felt that this symbolized me putting away my younger pursuits into spirituality and the ethereal and focusing more on tangible success. The kind of person I am now, I’d be hesitant to say that the jewelry I wear affects me in any significant way… but maybe it was more effective than I thought, eh?

 

Dame of the Day: Olufunmilayo Olopade

Olufunmilayo Olopade

Today’s Dame of the Day is Olufunmilayo Olopade (1959-). After earning her medical degree in Nigeria, Olopade’s research explored the prevalence BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic markers in breast cancer tumors of African women. By targeting these genetic differences, Olopade’s patients responded better to treatments. In 2005, Olopade won a MacArthur Fellowship.

Dame of the Day: Suad Amiry

Suad Amiry

Today’s Dame of the Day is Suad Amiry (1951-). Amiry’s parents left Palestine when she was a child and raised her in Amman, Jordan. Later, Amiry studied architecture in Beiruit, Edinburgh, and at the Univerisity of Michigan before embarking on a trip to Ramallah. On this trip, she met her husband and decided to stay. Today, Amiry balances her writing career with her responsibilities as founder of the Riwaq Centre for Architectural Conservation and her commitments to various peace initiatives for Palestinian and Israeli women.

Dame of the Day: Savina Cuéllar

Savina Cuéllar

Today’s Dame of the Day is Savina Cuéllar (1963-). Cuéllar serves as governor of Bolivia’s Chuquisaca department. As a woman of Quechua ancestry, she represents the interests of her ethnic group and her constituents. Most recently, she butted heads with President Evo Morales over whether Sucre (the country’s current constitutional capital located in her district) or La Paz (Bolivia’s more affluent and most populous city) should be the nation’s capital.

Dame of the Day: Maya Lin

Maya Lin

Today’s Dame of the Day is Maya Lin (October 5, 1959-). As a student of art and architecture, Lin became one of the youngest people to earn a Doctorate in Fine Arts from Yale University. At age 21, she beat out 1,441 proposals and won the opportunity to design the Vietnam War Memorial. In 2009, President Obama presented Lin with the National Medal of Arts in honor of her exemplary work.

Dame of the Day: Yasmeen Lari

Yasmeen Lari

Today’s Dame of the Day is Yasmeen Lari (1941-). After exposure to architecture piqued her interest in the field. Lari spent two years learning to draw before applying and gaining acceptance to Oxford’s School of Architecture. When she graduated at age 23, she became Pakistan’s first woman architect. Lari returned to Pakistan and opened her own firm with her husband. In addition to large corporate projects, Lari also offers solutions for historical building preservation and low income housing improvements.

Dame of the Day: Shigeyuki Kihara

Shigeyuki Kihara

Today’s Dame of the Day is Shigeyuki Kihara (1975-). Born and raised in Samoa, Kihara immigrated to New Zealand when she was sixteen. Kihara is best known for her photographic collections of self-portraits portraying both male and female subjects. Her artwork reflects her identification as fa’afafine, the third gender of Samoa. She is the first New Zealander to ever display artwork at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Dame of the Day: Iqbal Mahmoud Al Assad

Iqbal

Today’s Dame of the Day is Iqbal Mahmoud Al Assad (February 2, 1993-). After graduating high school at age 12, she garnered Lebanese minister of education’s attention who helped her secure a scholarship at Weil Cornell Medical College in Qatar. The 20 year-old Palestinian dreams of one day opening a pediatric clinic for other displaced Palestinian people, but due to her refugee status, she cannot practice medicine in Lebanon. Currently she is completing a three year residency at the Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.