Reflecting on the past year of Hello Barkada started with an unforced error: I reviewed what I wrote about Hello Barkada's first anniversary. Unsurprisingly, the toxic internal dialogue switched on.
"Does it even matter?"
"You could have done much more."
I realize that's not me. It's the voice of critics I've long left behind but whose words still cling. Demons, some call them.
I have to let them go.
As I do, I picture myself in a lush field, the knee-high grasses swaying in a gentle breeze. I walk towards an old tree in the distance that offers shade from a sun shining through puffed, meandering white clouds. Once under the leaves and boughs, I sit cross-legged, close my eyes, draw in a deep breath, and exhale—to center, to ground, to sense.
Over the past year, I've acquired enough nonprofit clients and contributed enough times to Popverse to bring in a steady annual income, a portion of which supports Hello Barkada's mission. To avoid burn out, I recalibrated what and how much Hello Barkada produced between September 2022 and the end of August 2023. In practice, this meant:
Tabling at my first zine fest, which I'm glad was San Diego Zine Fest 2022 and outdoors. It was a success, raising enough to donate to the Malki Museum and to save for our 2023 commissioning budget.
Hosting a second season of Allowed that featured Karen Alleluia, MariNaomi, Jamila Rowser, Kiara Valdez, Amanda Meadows and Rina Ayuyang.
Organizing panels to present at WonderCon 2023 in addition to Virtuous Con: Black History Month 2023 and San Diego Comic-Con 2023. Many thanks to Bianca Xunise, FeliceY, Raeghan Buchanan, Sandra Equihua, Elizabeth Ito, John Jennings, Lea Anderson, Malissa White, Reyna Cervantes, Viktor Kerney, Pearl Low, Christina Moreland, Natasha Kline, Jamila Rowser, Nidhi Chanani, Victoria Ying, Kiara Valdez, Marco Finnegan, and Amanda Meadows for participating in our panels!
Maintaining Funding Fridays, our curated list of art grants and fellowships that's published monthly.
Launching Book Recommendations in 10 Words, an annual listicle series that's updated throughout the year with a variety of recently released and backlist titles.
Resetting timelines for commissioning Hello Barkada Comics and guest writers to a calendar year rather than "before next September" to give myself grace to hit my targets. Thank you to FeliceY, Julie Fiveash, Jonita Davis, and Jade Boldenow for their contributions in Year Two!
Being okay with presenting and sharing more on social media than on HelloBarkada.org as I think through a more sustainable strategy for writing long-form articles, reviews, interviews and profiles for HelloBarkada.org in addition to Popverse.
At the end of 2022, Laneha House honored me with a Kinnard Award for Community Inclusion. When I consider this recognition alongside Hello Barkada's growing community of returning and new collaborators, the followers we've kept and gained, comments from people who've attended or tuned into our programming, and the kind words from artists, writers, and fellow program coordinators, I'm convinced that Hello Barkada is on course.
Hello Barkada is regarded as another community of care that expands the positive impact of past and existing like-minded organizations. That's very reassuring, particularly when it's evident that artists and storytellers who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, and intersectional continue to experience aggression on many levels and sides. Book bans are on the rise. O'Shae Sibley was killed for vogueing at a gas station. Masking mandates and courtesy have largely lapsed. High-level DEI directors at media companies who were hired in the wake of the BLM marches and corporate platitudes of 2020 have either understandably resigned or were unceremoniously dismissed. Social media platforms are updating Terms & Conditions to lay claim on art shared on it and to claim the right to use it to teach AI. AMPTP is AMPTPing.
What brings hope is that each incident has been met with collective actions of resistance. There are sustained organized efforts to track, challenge, and undermine book bans. New Yorkers gathered for a public ball to remember Sibley and to reaffirm their pride and right to thrive. A few indie conventions and zine fests are requiring those in attendance to mask out of care for the community and to make the event equitably accessible. Consumers are recognizing and calling out performative acts of corporate allyship, as well as raising alarms to change how and what you post on social media to protect ideas and art. Workers in more segments of the arts are unionizing and voting to authorize strikes. WGA writers and SAG-AFTRA actors are striking for deals that are fair for the largest percentage of their membership.
Every act of joyful resistance counts and reaffirms why Hello Barkada exists. This is an organization and platform that strives to be as bell hooks wrote, "a site of creativity and power, that inclusive space, where we recover ourselves, where we move in solidarity to erase the category colonized/colonizer. Marginality as site of resistance."
I look forward to seeing what Year Three brings, collectively.