Celebrating Diverse Voices on the Printed Page
At the launch party for VISIBILITY Magazine’s third issue, students surrounded a table where the magazines were stacked high and then sat—or leaned—quietly absorbing the publication’s nuanced poetry, essays, photos, and art.
The gathering was a celebration of the talent of writers and artists committed to uplifting diverse and marginalized voices. It took place in Parrish on Friday at a mid-day party that was paired with a Day of Silence Rally, which spread awareness about the effects of the bullying and harassment faced by LGBTQ students. The two groups felt their missions aligned with a similar message of inclusivity and mutual support.
“This has been a particularly exciting and a different experience compared to previous issues, starting with just the sheer number of submissions we received,” says VISIBILITY editor in chief Jasmine Rashid '18. “It’s been a deeply reflective process.”
A peace and conflict studies special major from Oyster Bay, N.Y., Rashid started the e-zine and magazine three years ago hoping to build a creative platform for underrepresented communities across campus. “Creating and running VISIBILITY has been synonymous with carving out a space for collective creativity,” she says.
Available for free online, VISIBILITY is supported through the Swarthmore Intercultural Center (IC) and the President’s Office’s Andrew Mellon grant, which also contributed to printing 415 free copies.
“What’s most important to me is that I think the content of this issue is really reflective of the moment, which is what we aim to curate—especially in terms of centering the voices, creations, and experiences of people whose identities are traditionally marginalized in media,” says Rashid. This year, she was able to hire a talented team of seven students to work on staff. “It made the job easier than when it was just me and a couple of friends working on VISIBILITY late nights in the IC. Also, this issue had a lot more financial support, which made a huge difference,” she says.
Working with VISIBILITY was important to Shreya Chattopadhyay ’20 because of its emphasis on collaboration. As the magazine’s outreach strategist, the Honors philosophy and political science major from Newbury Park, Calif., worked to host events with different groups and organizations.
“The magazine itself lifted up the art of many, many students,” says Chattopadhyay. “It was amazing to create a collective work that also prioritized individual voices and life experiences, especially those of students from marginalized communities.”
Participating in the magazine has given Celine Anderson ’19, an Honors sociology & anthropology major from Roanoke, Va., a chance to think about the meaning of cultural expression on campus. It’s a way to connect with other students who are using creativity to explore similar questions, says Anderson.
“The first two projects I did with VISIBILITY were collaborative, involving interviewing womxn of color about beauty, as well as a project involving body paint, photography and dance, with two of my closest friends,” she says. “It is a means of communicating with the wider campus, but also a means of communicating within the intercultural community.”
Humbled by the experience of running the magazine, Rashid says highlights during her tenure have included meeting peers who became friends through the experience of co-creating. “I learned a lot about publishing in general,” she says. “To see people supporting in whatever capacity they can, submitting pieces to the publication, coming out to our community events, and just generally showing interest in the project feels really good and makes the many of hours of work worth it.”
Art and mathematics major James Garcia ’19, who hails from Elizabeth, N.J., worked as the magazine’s graphic designer. “It really just felt like my method of helping my friends Samira and Jasmine create their vision for the new issue,” says Garcia. “Working with the team for getting the Andrew Mellon Grant, meeting to organize events and panels, and of course spending hours going through submissions and going through layout patterns was just as, if not more rewarding. The entire experience of working with this team is what certainly was the most rewarding. The graphic designing was what I knew I could do going into it, but the time it took to work and be with the team seemed like my more important role.”
At Friday’s launch, Rashid’s editorial team surprised her with a cake and flowers. “I had to try really hard not to get emotional,” she says, adding that she was leaving the magazine in good hands. “I couldn’t be happier and I can’t wait to see the direction that VISIBILITY goes in the future.”