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We are a creative lab and cultural hub for today's radical femme revolution.
 

Mala Forever Magazine
”Radical Seeds” | Issue No. 2
Feb. 2019

 
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Table of Contents

  1. Road to Redemption by Sadé C. Joseph

  2. Malcolm X and Greene by Sana Azim

  3. Ode to Octavia Butler by Mahelet Gezachew

  4. About a Flower by Nichoel Young

  5. Untitled by Orlando Ramos

 

Editor’s Note

Welcome to #RadicalSeeds, a collection of short films, photography and writing by emerging Black creators.

The artists differ greatly in their subject matter and visual style, but each work invites us to observe the beauty of resistance and Black life through a unique lens. Together they form a powerful collection that examines the past, present, and future of afro-surrealism, revolution, and creative expression.

The Road to Redemption

By Sadé Clacken Joseph

California Institution for Women | Corona, CA, 2017  The time spent at the women’s facilities is always the most emotional. Most of these queens are serving decades for crimes they did not commit. A majority were caught holding for or protecting their partners. Too many are victims of sexual and physical abuse, neglect and were never told they were worth being loved. Will never see their children or grandchildren outside of prison. Have been discarded and written off by their families. Too many aren’t able to have the luxury of access to tampons and feminine hygiene products. The intense love most of these women have for each other is infectious. For most they are all each other has. “I am not free until my girls are free” said one woman set to be paroled in the upcoming months.

California Institution for Women | Corona, CA, 2017

The time spent at the women’s facilities is always the most emotional. Most of these queens are serving decades for crimes they did not commit. A majority were caught holding for or protecting their partners. Too many are victims of sexual and physical abuse, neglect and were never told they were worth being loved. Will never see their children or grandchildren outside of prison. Have been discarded and written off by their families. Too many aren’t able to have the luxury of access to tampons and feminine hygiene products. The intense love most of these women have for each other is infectious. For most they are all each other has. “I am not free until my girls are free” said one woman set to be paroled in the upcoming months.

First Day Free After 30 Years of Incarceration | South Central, 2017

First Day Free After 30 Years of Incarceration | South Central, 2017

Since March 2017 I have visited nearly a dozen California State Prisons, Juvenile Detention Centers and halfway homes as apart of Commonʼs Prison Tour to help end mass incarceration. Each incarcerated man, woman, teenager and non- binary person I have met during these visits have impacted my life in some way.

I did not embark on the Prison Tour with the intent to take portraits. I was there to document Common, his performances and interactions with those who he was given permission to speak with. At first, I was nervous my camera would make those incarcerated feel shy or offended. I wanted to be respectful, sensitive and aware of my place as an outsider. To my surprise most men, as I was not often given access to womenʼs cell blocks, lit up when they saw my camera. They would bang on their cell windows or call out through metal bars for me take photos. They were proud to showcase their masculinity and tiny cell they called home. I quickly realized, many had never had their picture taken, let alone attended a concert and how much our presence meant.

Susan Burton | Folsom Prison, 2018  Susan spent 15 years in prison, after losing her child, being a victim of abuse and falling into drug addiction. She is now the founder of a New Way of Life which operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children.

Susan Burton | Folsom Prison, 2018

Susan spent 15 years in prison, after losing her child, being a victim of abuse and falling into drug addiction. She is now the founder of a New Way of Life which operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children.

When my subjects pose, their faces — most of them black and brown — do not wear their years of incarceration; instead they wear hope. Even those who have been imprisoned for decades, given life sentences with no chance of parole, brimmed with positivity and confidence. I honestly do not know how these men, women and children have been able to find the road to redemption and the strength to continue. The individuals in these photographs are genuinely some of the most loving, self-aware and kind human beings. They have become remarkable leaders, fathers and mothers to all around them during their time served. Their energy radiated onto me and inspired me, when I had come thinking I would be inspiring them. This series celebrates their lives because, although the system tries to say otherwise, they matter.

Folsom Prison, 2017

Folsom Prison, 2017

Jesse | Ironwood, 2017

Jesse | Ironwood, 2017

Ironwood, 2017

Ironwood, 2017

Calipatria, 2017

Calipatria, 2017

Calipatria, 2017

Calipatria, 2017

Lancaster State Prison, 2017

Lancaster State Prison, 2017

Folsom Prison, 2017

Folsom Prison, 2017

MALCOLM X AND GREENE

BY SANA AZIM

 

I moved to Bed-Stuy when I was 8 years old. It was like a village - a vibrant community made up of neighbors who cared for each other. Back then there were no white people there. There was also no decent food, hospital, or public school. I’m 19 years old now and I still live in Bed-Stuy. Over the years I have watched my community change drastically as the influx of white middle class inhabitants moved into the neighborhood.

Now my block is 25 percent white. We have two organic delis on each corner, an organic supermarket, coffee shops, and yoga studios. We also have more police presence, fewer black owned businesses, rent raises, and eviction. People who are from here can’t even afford to live here anymore. I have watched my neighborhood change, I’ve seen people who have lived in the same house for fifty years become homeless, I’ve seen family businesses torn down and overpriced coffee shops put in their place.

Gentrification is a blatant form of systematic racism. While some may think new coffee shops and organic delis are ‘fixing our hoods’, the effect that the incoming white middle class population has on the native black and brown lives inhabiting these vibrant communities is destructive. These shifts in my environment are what inspired me to create Malcolm X and Greene. Through the lens of a young documentarian living in Bed-Stuy, Malcolm X and Greene is a story of a gentrified Brooklyn, and an ode to a vibrant and rapidly disappearing community.


 

Ode to Octavia Butler

By Mahelet Gezachew

 

Often times we neglect powerful Black women who cultivate the next generation of writers, thinkers, and creators. This is a reminder that it is important to explore Black experiences in genres and spaces that are typically seen as white.

In other words, listen, feel, and learn Science Fiction from the greatest writer herself –– Octavia E. Butler.

 

About a Flower

By Nichoel Young

A mini-doc about a fresh new Black Muslim photographer named Tahirah Ali.

 

Initially, this was intended to explore the pain we endure, how our upbringing can propel us into something beautiful - in this case, into finding one’s calling as a photographer. As I filmed her, I saw how much light came into Tahirah’s eyes as she spoke about her passions in life, and I then hoped that all the Tahirahs - young Black Muslim girls - in the world could feel confident and strong enough to pursue their passions unapologetically and without fear. That they too can hold their religion tightly, yet not be “traditional”. I want to create stories that spark something in a younger generation like my favorite films did for me.

 

Untitled

By Orlando Ramos

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I ground myself with photography. What began as a hobby - taking family pictures on disposable cameras - eventually deepened into my craft. I only recently began to value myself as a photographer and my work has enabled me to step into a deeper purpose of being a visual storyteller.

As a person of color, shooting with models of color is intentional for me for many reasons. I feel like the working relationships I build with the people who sit for me are impactful for both of us, and we are able to move from a relaxed place of mutual understanding, comfort, and honesty which benefits the outcome of the shoot and allows for us to continue to build together artistically. Every collaboration is a different adventure.

I pursue every shoot without selfish expectations and am intentional and open about how I choose to present each subject. I like to work in environments that help express unique personality traits of my subjects - pinpointing each models individuality through portraiture. As I build a relationship with the subject, the quality of every shoot improves greatly - giving me the opportunity to grow creatively. For my subjects, my hope is that what comes from our collaboration authentically reflects who they are.

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Thank you for watchinG!

 

We’re building an audience-supported model through Patreon, which will allow us to keep our production equitable and our content accessible in the long term. With your support, we can continue creating films and content that reflect our diverse and underserved community, while creating real economic opportunities for marginalized artists.

CREDITS

We want to acknowledge the immense amount of work, time, energy, resources, and love that went into the production of Radical Seeds. We want to thank Sana Azim, Mahalet Gezachew, Sade C. Joseph, Orlando Ramos and Nichoel Young, who contributed their powerful work, and everyone who supported the production of this collection in order to make it possible.

 
 

Malcolm X and Greene

Featuring: Sana Azim, Omolara Dawodu, Sascha Straker

Writer and Director: Sana Azim
Executive Producers: Jessie Levandov and Nina Reyes Rosenberg
Special Thank You: Umay Mohamed

Road to redemption

Photography and Writing by: Sade C. Joseph

untitled

Photographer: Orlando Ramos

Ode to Octavia Butler

Featuring: Deja Fields, Alaysia Pearce, Tenbit Daniel, Victoria Wright

Writer and Directo: Mahalet Gezachew
Executive Producers: Nina Reyes Rosenberg and Jessie Levandov
Set Design: Sabrina Melles

About a flower

Director, Camera and Editor: Nichoel Young
Featuring Tahirah Ali

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