In the midst of a violent and divided year in the United States, I was moved when I stumbled upon BUFU while walking around my neighborhood. I am committed to creating and supporting safer spaces for POC to exist within, and coming across a warehouse full of people exchanging ideas and experiences by and for people of color was reassuring. BUFU is a decentralized documentary project deconstructing the Black-Asian relationship, and an ongoing platform to foster community dialogue while building kinship & solidarity. BUFU had a month-long program this past summer in Bedstuy, which resulted in 115+ events. More recently, we spent a few hours taking some photos together. We talked for 30 minutes. I took notes. This story is meant to celebrate these incredible women and the work that they are doing. I also hope that it sparks within you questions about what you are personally committed to and what you are doing to ensure that our world continues to open itself to everyone.
Smaller: exploring the cultural relationship between Black and Asian communities.
Larger: space-making, activating, and archiving.
This project takes form as a documentary web series. It exists in our programming so you can come and have physical interactions with the conversation. It will also be an online archive where people who aren’t able to attend the public programming can plug-in and share their experiences. It is multidisciplinary as fuck. But we also created a space for this really beautiful community. Super cunty, super cute.
We started by saying yes to anything that people asked us to do, which was not the right answer because we just assumed that we would be able to have the same autonomy and that people’s politics would be the same. I think we learned a really valuable lesson in how important community accountability is, which is something we were trying to learn to build on. To be as responsive as possible to our community.
We are also trying to take a historical perspective, looking at how Black and Asian folks are entering each other’s cultures through the lens of white supremacy.
We are just trying to build on a vocabulary that we can use to talk to each other about our experiences. I think vocabulary is really interesting to bring up because so much of what generated this project is that Black and Asian communities are experiencing this oppression and these communities don’t necessarily share the same language to describe the oppression that they experience.
In talking about oppression and the things that we are trying to overcome, so often we center whiteness and focus on this “us versus them” thing. We have been checked by our community, asked to not focus on whiteness, but focus on the work that we are doing here. It’s much easier to name whiteness and privilege as the problem, but we have many issues happening between communities of color that aren’t being addressed if we are constantly focusing on “the man” as the enemy.
I think this generation is really aware of the failures of past movements. We are trying to get people to step into the conversation instead of just observing and commentating.
I think a lot of folks don’t always feel a sense of agency in a lot of political conversations and don’t necessarily see themselves in this larger political conversation. How do we wake people up to the agency they already have and to the story that they are already part of?
As BUFU continues to expand, and as we are invited to share our project in different spaces, we have to critically consider: What does it mean for us to do this work in institutional settings, even if the institutions are lit, and have great politics? We are still learning that an institution that has a great track record does not deter from the fact that we are going to have to walk into the space and advocate for ourselves.
Look 1:(from left to right) stylist’s own dress, Giovanna top (worn underneath dress), Laurence Dacade boots, We Love Color sheer socks, Tropical Rob gloves. Look 2: Cleola bra, Cleola top, Cleola skirt, Manolo Blahnik shoes, stylists own body chain. Look 3 : Cleola top, Daimorf pants, Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes.
Look 4 : Cleola top, Eric Schlosberg skirt, Laurence Dacade shoes. Look 5: stylist’s own dress, Giovanna top (worn under dress), Maryam Nassir Zadeh top (worn over dress), Daimorf pants. Look 6: Gypsy Sport top, Giovanna jeans and belt. Look 7: Phlemuns top, pants and jacket, Maryam Nassir Zadeh shoes.
Look 8: Giovanna top, skirt and shoes, Ribeyron choker. Look 9: Maryam Nassir Zadeh top, Gypsy Sport pants. Look 10: Cleola top, Eric Schlosberg skirt. Look 11: Phlemuns jumpsuit.
Look 12: Maryam Nassir Zadeh top, Gypsy Sport pants. Look 13: Cleola top, Eric Schlosberg skirt.
Donate to BUFU!
© 2017 The Editorial Magazine