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Race to the finish

Updated on: 04 October,2020 07:48 AM IST  |  Mumbai
P Vatsalya |

Overlooked/Underheard is a virtual zine that compels you to think about race and related concerns in its first volume

Race to the finish

Garvi Dhar's collage is "a commentary on the oppressors' construction of 'the native type' as a way to justify their identity as the coloniser"

I can't breathe," George Floyd can be heard repeating to a white police officer. Something about the nature of the African American's death in June, forced the world to sit up and take notice. "I wanted to mobilise people in my own circle and offer solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement. We went about doing this by documenting and examining racial injustice in our own context, whether casteism or Islamophobia," says Shruti Nivas, designer and the editor of a recently-launched zine, Overlooked/Underheard.

Determined to speak out, Nivas reached out to her friends. Word of mouth resulted in the formation of a WhatsApp group of designers, illustrators and poets. A deadline of three weeks was set, as they pored over the question of race. The zine's first volume has thought-provoking images (illustrations and a collage) and words (poetry and prose) by Soumya Basnet, Shivani Gupta, Garvi Dhar, Abhijit Kacchap, Sangamalika Rajakumar, Abu Shaikh, Shruti Nivas, Manavi Datta and Anupama Rao.

Shruti Nivas, Garvi Dhar and Shivani Gupta
Shruti Nivas, Garvi Dhar and Shivani Gupta

Dhar "explores the relation between black history and brown history" through her collage, drawing on intergenerational wisdom and strength, while problematising white people's construction of native people as savage and uncultured. Gupta highlights "the tendency of oppressors to ask questions out of obligation, but not have the capacity to really listen to the answers because it reveals an ugly truth about themselves."

We liked that the zine is easy on the eyes despite the serious theme, and recommend it to those who don't want to be overwhelmed with information, and yet want to meaningfully engage with the discussion around race.

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