[Above artwork by Tsuruko Yamakazi]
Angola 3 News: How did POOR Magazine get started?
Tiny: POOR Magazine is a poor people led/indigenous people led grassroots, nonprofit, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, education and art to youth, adults and elders locally and globally
POOR the magazine was launched in las calles, welfare offices, Social Security lobbies and shelters in 1996 by an Indigenous Raza mother and daughter team who barely survived homelessness, extreme poverty, disability, criminalization and racism and survived on underground economic strategies. We began with community journalism workshops focused on telling our own stories, reclaiming our own scholarship and redefining in and of itself what media even is and who controls it.
We practice eldership, ancestor worship and interdependence as a resistance to the destruction of capitalism, imperialism, colonization and white supremacy.
POOR Magazine defines indigenismo within an urban indigenous context of shared identities and shared struggles. We are landless African, Taino/Boricua, Mexicano/Mexica/Raza, Iroquois, Pomo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Celtic, Hawaiian, Samoan, Jewish, Arabic, South Asian, Oaxacan, Guatemalan, Salvadoran and many more, We are Elders, Youth, Children, Mamaz, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Families and Individuals brought together through the shared struggle of poverty, survival and “thrival.”
To this end, POOR Magazine has implemented the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples as a revolutionary resistance document. This is one of the ways we practice redefining the capitalist systems of oppression, philanthropy, the prison industrial complex, the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC), and systems of controlled and stolen resources, land and information.
In 1999, while my Mama and I were still “in the life” and while I personally was being told by my welfare worker that I needed to realize what a waste of taxpayers’ resources I was, taught myself how to write an RFP for a welfare to work grant to teach poor mamas like me and my Mama how to be journalists, writers and media producers.
I successfully mastered the linguistic domination skills necessary to reclaim those stolen government resources and give them back to the people. With them we were able to start our indigenous news-making circle (which up-ends the hierarchy of both independent and corporate media), our KPFA radio show, our online news service and our media training classrooms.
In 2002, we lost all of the government dollars when they saw that we were teaching people how to write about the very systems that were oppressing all of us (i.e. the welfare to work locus of control).
This almost killed us - but we are not sorry that we reclaimed those funds. It would be elitist and illogical. But that government-sponsored inquisition still almost killed us. And when the government dollars left, so did all of the philanthro-pimped private donations.
This tragedy led us to not only fight harder, but to build a curriculum around the myths of philanthropy, and launch The Race, Poverty, & Media Justice Institute, as well as a completely new concept we call Revolutionary Giving.
The whole great interview is here.