Racism: it’s personal.

by Jinki Cambronero

Designers Speak (Up)’s Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa poster call created a democratic space for profound expression. One hundred and nineteen posters were compelled into existence, to speak up on societal issues from personal perspectives. It fostered a community, and gave us 119 opportunities for understanding each other’s experience and how it might intersect with our own.

When Catherine Griffiths approached me to undertake an Instagram takeover for Designers Speak (Up),  my response was to initiate the “To Be Continued” (TBC) project. TBC would create content by amplifying the Present Tense voices. It would honour their fervent expressions by tuning in and turning them up.

Seven brave individuals answered the call for participation and agreed to be interviewed on camera. Each spoke openly on the subject matter of their poster, and more generally on community and creativity. Themes emerged on unconscious bias, motherhood, and overwhelmingly on racism. The footage captured was greater than expected and would be released in instalments.

With the Black Lives Matter movement putting New Zealand’s own issues with racism into focus, it was timely to reconnect to TBC. Over 10 days in June, another instalment of TBC was released via social media. We heard from designers Aakifa Chida, Afifa Chida, Kalee Jackson and Sita Narsai, who spoke on the encounters with racism that motivated their posters. Racism is pervasive, but each experience is unique to a person. A reality demonstrated by the Chida sisters’ distinct responses to the Christchurch mosque shootings.

Racism is pervasive, but each experience is unique to a person.

The interviewees often emphasised the fact we are all people, we are all human. All spoke with grace and kindness, and saw ways forward. All shared perspectives that have the power to shift mindsets.

As individuals our frame of reference is limited. In diverse societies countless realities exist. The chasm between the two can be precarious for people who are marginalised and misunderstood. Listening to each other’s stories can help transcend the harmful stereotypes we have inherited. It can reconnect us as humans and move us closer to truths.

Listening to each other’s stories can help transcend the harmful stereotypes we have inherited. It can reconnect us as humans and move us closer to truths.

Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa created a space for sharing perspectives and being heard. It is crucial we keep talking and listening, to better understand each other, the issues in our society and the parts we play within them.

Designers Speak (Up) started critical conversations. Let’s keep them going.

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— thank you to Kingsize Studios for their support for personal projects via the Kingsize Club / JC

Jinki Cambronero / photographer, designer, art director / @jinkic
[see also, Jinki’s posters for Present Tense here and here]

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