Nana Adae-Amoakoh and Ella, two influential forces, have manifested Black Fly –a space where POC can freely express their concerns related to sexual health. It’s about having those serious conversations, but also about supporting sexual exploration. Black Fly encourages artists to bless the world with their creativity, which becomes a vehicle that propels conversations forward.
Nana Adae-Amoakoh and Ella Frost have dedicated their free time to promoting and sustaining sexual health for POC. The conversation is huge –one that’s long overdue and has the power to change how the world perceives black and brown bodies.
Often overly sexualized, objectified, and commodified –black and brown bodies have existed under sexual troupes or motifs, often constrained or exaggerated. Under colonizing regimes, POC have been silenced. But no more. Now is the time for voices to soar and both Adae-Amoakoh and Frost are facilitating flight via Black Fly. The focus is on community as wealth. It’s also about connecting stories from around the globe; talking candidly about sexual health bolsters confidence, informs identities, and educates. Black Fly is on a mission that will take POC’s sexual education and identity to the moon and back several times over.
What inspired you to start Black Fly and what was the process like?
Nana: Both Ella and I were fed up with the lack of decolonized information on sexual health and well-being that considered the multiplicity of POC narratives and how our identity intersections shape how we are impacted in this area. In our first conversation, we literally couldn’t stop speaking about our respective sexual health and the issues we and others we knew have dealt with. Three hours later, we were convinced that if our friends and we were feeling and experiencing these things, then there must also be people we don’t know sharing our concerns.
When we did the call-out, we simply stated the vision for Black Fly and encouraged people to submit whatever this compelled them to produce. It was really amazing when the submissions started coming through; people expressing themselves in a variety of ways, through a range of perspectives, from across three continents. The process of putting them all together, choosing the order, working with the artists to edit, learning Adobe InDesign, happened alongside us holding down full-time jobs and meant we were often working through the night. But it was a different kind of tiredness. We are so invested and committed to this project, that working from this place of love fueled us to get it to what it is and continues to motivate us today.
Is the focus on sexual health an attempt to re-educate and build a community that transcends institutions, institutions that have often left POC on the margins?
Ella: I don’t think we are in a position to re-educate people, nor would we want to. People of colour know their experiences better than us and know themselves, it is whiteness that seeks to undermine that knowledge and cast doubt. It’s more about having a platform to show these voices within the particular context of sexual health, to know that white supremacy is working on all these different levels, to pay attention to it, recognize it and uphold the voices who are affected by it.
Do you feel like the zine itself or the application process is a ritual?
Nana: When I think of a ritual I think of a spiritual ceremony or repeating an act with the intention of producing and causing a particular outcome. Because of my own experiences, there were submissions that upon reading for the first time made me very emotional. And we have so many inboxes from people who having read the zine, talk about how beautiful it is and how it has helped them manage feelings of isolation because they read or saw something in it that resonated with them. For Ella and I, we definitely recognized a cathartic aspect to producing the zine in ourselves but also for the contributors. I definitely think there is a ritualistic aspect to tapping into our pain in a way which is fruitful.
Black Fly is more than a zine; clearly, it’s a movement, a global one at that –can you talk more about that, please?
Ella: It really has the potential to be, it’s all about tying black and brown people’s experiences together, mapping them out across space and time while also acknowledging colourism and privileges that exist within these histories. It is no simple task! What could be a goal is to set up Black Fly in multiple continents and eventually knit all the communities together in some way, that would truly be a global movement and something we are working on.
If you could summarize Black Fly in a few words or one sentence, what would you say?
Ella: Black and brown sexual health, affirmation, and growth.
Nana: A healing and supportive resource.
Self-love is an act of protest against society for POC. Could you talk more about that and how non-POC can assist in the process, if at all?
Nana: Knowing that someone is going through the same thing as you or has had a similar experience and can therefore relate to your own trauma is truly transformative. There’s something so powerful in saying “I have been through the same” to other people in our community, in speaking out about our experiences and feeling safe to do so. Self-love has to include owning our narratives and learning to accept ourselves with everything that society tells us makes us unloveable. Shame thrives when we keep things in the dark. Giving light to these experiences simply by sharing is a huge act of self-love.
As for non-POC folk, I personally, am over centering them or even having to explain how they can be allies. White supremacy works to make us believe that white people have to be included in our community work when they actually do not. All I ask is when in spaces where POC are talking about themselves, that they listen and go back to their worlds and actively work to dismantle the systems that give them endless privileges. Google is their friend if they want a clearer understanding of what this looks like..
Zines and websites are ways to archive the past. Can you address this within the afro-futuristic movement?
Ella: I am recently delving into Afro-futurism and I’m reading Dark Matter a collection of short stories right now, I love it but don’t quite feel educated enough to comfortably place Black Fly in it. The very fact that Afro-futurism is explicitly about race is refreshing after reading a lot of white cis male sf that can imagine impossible things but rarely delve into racism. I think Black Fly is very much archiving the present and maybe we can push it, using Afro-futurism, to start imagining the future of black and brown sexuality and identity.
Where do you see Black Fly going within the next decade?
Ella: I want Black Fly to keep getting into the hands of the people who need it. We also want to keep pushing conversations in real life in the form of dialogues, workshops and panels perhaps, creating a zine for younger generations so they can also be affirmed in their experience, especially if they are in a system which is not made for their needs. I also want to work on some merchandise because it would be so cute to have some Black Fly tees on all the people in our community AND STICKERS!
Nana: Snap. All of the above.
To submit to Black Zine see the following:
We want your submissions in any form you desire.
- ANONYMITY is vital.
If u don’t want ur name included then it won’t be.
- POC only. All genders welcome.
WORDS BY: Jacklyn Janeksela