Fabiola Ching is the founder and editor of The Coalition Zine, a DC-based online and print zine dedicated to girls of color. Just over a year old, the Coalition Zine is already six issues in, with an incredible archive of writing and editorial imagery, portraiture, and visuals contributed entirely by women or non-binary people of color. The project shows no signs of slowing down: an offline, events component rolled out just a few weeks ago with Queers in the Park on a Saturday, a picnic/safe space/get together for queer people of color in the District (and in the District area). More on that – with accompanying photos by photographer and A Creative DC contributor Dejah Greene – below; huge thanks to Fabiola for sharing her perspective and her project!
"I started the Coalition when I was 16 and had just graduated from high school. At that time I was just feeling this rage at the fact that I didn’t have any space for myself or my work, online or offline. There were lots of zines and magazines on the rise at this time, this was when zine culture and DIY culture on the internet was really booming and young people were starting to find places for themselves and yet it seemed like every publication and zine and magazine and site had nothing for me or no space to offer me. I just never felt welcome anywhere because of how these spaces focused so much on the white upper-middle class experience. So I started a little tumblr blog where the main focus was to highlight art, businesses, films, etc that were by black women or where black women where the main focus. It really became a big deal! At that time it was called TheBlackGirlCoalition.
As time evolved, I started to think about what I could do with this space and the little following that I had garnered. I started thinking about relationships between women of colour, not just black women, and the way we communicate with each other. I really started thinking about solidarity and coalition and how these are hard concepts to come to terms with because as a black woman, everyone comes for you including women of colour that aren’t black. So I’ve always known that solidarity and coalition were tough things to talk about but imagine if there was a space dedicated to telling all our stories as marginalized people and also make it a space where we didn’t talk over each other or for each other and instead found a way to coexist. This was the reason why it changed to “The Coalition.”
Another thing that I decided to focus on was feminism and girlhood, our various girlhoods, and how class and race and socio-economic status played a part in these things and how we define feminism. After coming to terms with what I could do with the space, I just took it to the head and got a site and platform and everything and decided to just go with it. It’s amazing how many people have responded positively to this, it’s really overwhelming how we have been able to like…get to a lot of people.
Right now, The Coalition is not really about telling other people to give us space but instead taking the space that we deserve. Being an independent and DIY operation, it’s a very hard thing, especially when you don’t have resources or funding or whatever but it’s also amazing because no one dictates what you do and how you do it. I know that the lack of white faces in our masthead or the lack of white perspectives in our publications definitely turns people off but I don’t care. My main priority is taking up all the space I can possibly get and talk about things like poor queer artists of colour, female musicians who are making music in their tiny bedroom and holding down 3 jobs at the same time, trans women who are trying to make work that they are passionate about and also stay afloat, young black girls in inner cities whose girlhoods are not all glitter and pastel colours…you know, things that a lot of people don’t want to pay attention to. All of the work we do is by women or non-binary people of colour, especially the writing which is a really big part of who we are. We are from all over the world which I think is quite amazing being able to have such bonds with people who come from everywhere.
The Queers in The Park on a Saturday event [photos by Dejah Greene] was an absolute blast. What I wanted to do was just have a tiny picnic/get together with queer people of colour from the DC area and I was really nervous because I have never hosted anything like that, and meeting up with absolute strangers..it was very nerve wracking, but that only lasted till we kicked it off. Everyone in attendance was so amazing and chill. I really wanted to do this because I think talking to people who have similar experiences as you is very important and cathartic, and important in the healing process. Like a lot of us, we deal with a lot of rejection and stigmatization and we don't fit in easily. Having an event like this once in a while where we just talk and eat and lay in the sun (which is all we did) is so powerful. I didn't expect to be so affected by it and so calmed by it. In the future, we are most definitely going to have more events like these with more people, more food, more activities, etc."