We caught up with English student Sawdah Bhaimiya to talk about the new publication Diaspora Speaks which aims to showcase the journeys, opinions and experiences of students of colour.
Tell us about Diaspora Speaks. How did the idea come about and who are the key team?
The main purpose of Diaspora Speaks Magazine is to highlight the journeys, opinions and experiences of students of colour. The idea started forming in my head around November last year, and at the time I was very involved with student media as I was working with Cub Magazine, The Print News, Quest Radio, as well as QMTV. I started to become more aware of the lack of diversity in journalism as a whole and I wanted to fill that gap by creating something that ethnic minority students at the university could get involved with whether they have experience with writing or not. As 69% of Queen Mary students are BAME it seemed right to create a platform where they can be heard.
I voiced my opinions to a fellow CUB writer, Sara Omar who loved the idea from the start. We watched it grow from an idea to a real outlet and we’re excited to see how far it will go in the next year. The team is currently just Sara and myself, but we are looking to expand and we have open applications to become a part of our 2020/2021 team.
What or who are your inspirations for working in journalism and starting the publication?
My inspirations for working in journalism are probably Stacey Dooley, Iman Amrani, Liv Little and Anila Dhami. I think real journalism is about being open-minded, exploring different perspectives, and telling the stories that matter. I’ve always been quite an inquisitive and curious person and I enjoy telling stories so I found myself gravitating towards journalism because I feel as if I can have a real impact with it.
Furthermore, a publication that I really admire is gal-dem as they carved a space for ethnic minority women and non-binary people of colour, and really established themselves as serious contenders in a journalistic landscape that can often be hostile to POC.
Diaspora Speaks Magazine is modelled after gal-dem, and we really do hope that ethnic minority students get to tell the stories that matter to them.
How can students get involved with the magazine? What kind of submissions are you looking for?
We have currently opened applications to become a part of our regular team for 2020/2021. The link to the application is https://diasporaspeaksqmul.typeform.com/to/YQQkDL.
We are looking for regular writers, artists, photographers, section editors, graphic designers, and a treasurer. Submissions can include articles, interviews, poetry, artwork, photography, etc. We have various different sections that can be found on our social media and we will be opening submissions soon so to keep updated follow our social media:
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/diasporaspeaks/
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/diaspora_speaks
- Facebook: http://facebook.com/diasporaspeaks
Are there any areas you’ve studied on the English course that have influenced your work on Diaspora Speaks?
I studied Postcolonial and Global Literature as a module this year and it has really enlightened me to the extent of the discrimination faced by POC. I was very unaware of the impact of colonialism before I studied it in English this year, but I am now aware that even though colonialism has ended, its impact is still felt today.
I understand and support the efforts of students and teachers who are working towards decolonising the curriculum, the university and more. Diaspora Speaks Magazine I hope will play a part in that effort.