POCollective hosts ‘Creepin it Real’ at Witch Mountain as part of reboot efforts
The POCollective is a group of people of color, most of which identify are queer or trans, dedicated to organizing and cultivating POC centered spaces for creativity, education, healing and support in Richmond. Beginning last year founder, Zaira Qureshi, created the group after noticing a void in Richmond’s art scene.
“I wanted to create an art show with two of my friends who were white, and I remember feeling like I wasn’t involved in the curation of the show,” Qureshi said. “After that experience I got the idea of doing POC-centered events. I envisioned a collective of people of color who throw our own shows and made spaces for ourselves because our representation in creative fields are minimal.”
From there, POCollective took off, organizing art shows and performance, creating zines, hosting potlucks and other POC centered event throughout the city.
“I was a student within VCUarts and it was a very white-dominated, heteronormative, and cis-gendered environment and experience,” said Qureshi. “I felt like creating a space that more queer/trans people of color would be into would be beneficial to us as a community and to the larger art scene. I knew that I wasn’t the only one experiencing isolation within my creative journey as a queer person of color.”
Qureshi solely planned and organized the events, but as the group began to expand and the semester’s workload increased, she decided to step away from the group as an organizer.
Now the group is reuniting with more people of various identities and skillsets to help grow POCollective to have a larger, more stable presence in Richmond.
Creepin It Real is POCollective’s reintroduction to Richmond as a multifaceted, leaderless organization determined to become a space for safe and creative freedom for people of color.
This is declared as a safe space centering queer and Black individuals, though it is open to the public.
“We are trying to create a space that is centered on POC specifically that are POC only spaces. But also trying to center queer people, femmes, Black folks, and indigenous folks and darker skinned people, people who are usually pushed out of spaces,” said Ishan Bose, POCollective organizer and VCU student. “In society and systemically these are people who are usually invisibilized and their voices are not heard, so making a space for them where their voices are heard and they are appreciated is really important and crucial. We are trying to make this a community and to support each other.”
POCollective’s existence and now rebirth comes during a time where the use of trigger warnings and the existence of safe spaces have been a part of a larger national dialogue. Last month an Ohio University’s College Republican group made headlines with their statement, ‘Trigger Warning: There are no safe spaces in real life! You can’t wall off the 1st Amendment.’
In August, John Ellison, dean of students at the University of Chicago released a letter to the new freshman class saying that the university does not believe in safe spaces or trigger warnings.
“All rhetoric that safe spaces aren’t necessary or trigger warnings not being necessary is being spewed because POC are demanding accountability from white folks and white folks are recognizing that through this declaration of safe spaces that they aren’t able to as freely be racist, sexist, homophobic etc.” said Ayanna Ogaldez, VCU student and organizer of POCollective. Ogaldez said ignoring trigger warnings invalidates trauma that is already often buried when it comes to people of color.
“As we are all engaging in these cycles of learning and unlearning, we must start that educating process,” she said. “And put into action these new ways of interacting with one another that are more compassionate.”
Check out ‘Creepin it Real’ this Friday October 21st. $7 Entry fee. Doors open at Witch Mountain from 9PM to 12AM.
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