Introducing a new series of interviews with the founders of ZFC and their backstories. For part 3, we interview Audder.
Jasmine Monton, known under the artist moniker Audder, was born on an autumn day in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She still visits her hometown from time to time but identifies herself as Calgarian. Other than the familiarity of her home town, when she visits she is reminded of what she loves most – the sense of community. With the houses being so close together, the community of neighbours has become very close knit over time. Audder even called the community “Canadian Philippines.” We spoke briefly on the importance of community, and where it feels like it is lacking in Calgary. While we both agreed that we were glad to have a little community of our own, we admitted to often feeling distant to others and wished that it were more common to visit your neighbours as if they were family.
Our conversation about community led us to speaking on the protests of the past couple weeks, and the necessity of them. Audder speaks confidently when she said that the protests have been revealing the ugly truth of Canadian and American history, and how they are simply a method of self-defence for Indigenous and Black communities. These communities have continuously been mistreated, and Audder says “The world is on fire for them. They are hurting. Finally, what Black people are going through every day is being exposed.” Along with feeling the power of seeing everyone come together, she has appreciated the organizers taking the time to speak up and inspire the crowds, something that the media hasn’t been very effective at capturing. She hopes that individuals who are not attending the protests are taking the time to educate themselves on the truth, and not choosing to simply rely on the media or taking a neutral stance. Audder takes a moment to remind me that although there is a lot going on at once, she is grateful for the progressive change that seems to be occurring so far.
“Pay attention, now is the best time to learn and to not brush off what BLM stands for. I feel thankful that there are so many voices highlighting what the best role for us as allies looks like.”
As a non-Black POC, Audder wishes for less color blindness within society. For her, being a POC is something she is prideful of and is never ashamed of. She loves when she can share the customs that she appreciates in her culture, instead of being approached with stereotypes that too many individuals seem to trust. “Black women have taught me to celebrate my culture proudly. In part because of the BLM movement, but mostly because they have always been celebrating their own culture. Black people are proud to speak on the specifics of where they are from, and what culture they celebrate, and I’m glad their voices are being amplified right now.”
Through working with youth over the past couple years, Audder has seen firsthand how they deal with racism at their age. The younger generation seems to understand what racism looks like, but they struggle with what actions to take when they see it. She’s worked with youth who stand up for a peer when they hear a racial slur, but the racially charged conversation turns into a fight at times. She is proud of kids for speaking up when they see injustice, and she challenges us to teach children how to take action when they see racism; it is not enough to only know what shape it takes.
Not knowing what to do when faced with racism is not exclusive to youth. Audder found herself in situations where Black peers faced racist micro-aggressions on several occasions. She has found herself a witness to racial slurs being used, like a non-black person saying the N word, and in situations where individuals were asking to touch a Black person’s hair. She found herself freezing under these circumstances, a reaction most of us can relate to. If non-black allies interject, we can hopefully create an opportunity for our Black friends to take the platform and say when they are uncomfortable, or to do whatever they see fit. Saying something along the lines of “ I realize this probably isn’t your intention, but put yourself in a Black person’s shoes, these questions/this word you are using, may cause discomfort.” She implores that the more comfortable we get with showing up for our Black friends, and the more we speak on injustice, the better we will become as allies. “Pay attention, now is the best time to learn and to not brush off what BLM stands for. I feel thankful that there are so many voices highlighting what the best role for us as allies looks like.”
Audder shares with me the time she attended an event put on by Action Dignity, a non-profit organization working to enhance the voices of ethno-cultural communities in Calgary. The organization put on a youth-led play about micro-aggressions, and followed by a multi-cultural festival. She explains that they had a drum circle that incorporated everyone’s traditional dances, and loved how even though everyone had different dances, everything flowed together very well with the music. This reminded her of two things, to never drown out our differences, but instead to celebrate them. Participating in the event made her feel represented in her own differences, and brought us to the conversation on the importance of creating art with her fellow BIPOC. It’s important for her to create more representation for BIPOC through making art, and the more art they make the better the representation will be. She describes how some Filipino media has become westernized in order to become more popular, and wishes she could see Filipinos becoming popular on the foundation of embracing their culture without any western influences. She hopes for a future where BIPOC can fully be themselves through their art.
Jasmine Monton is currently running a summer book club with youth, with a special focus on anti-racism. We are asking readers to email us any educational resources they have to recommend, whether it be a film, a poem or a book.
About the author : Mariebelle Sawma is an up and coming Lebanese Canadian writer, currently writing for TEDxYYC and holds a poetry publication with the Femme Handbook, Volume 2. She has lived in Calgary, Alberta for most of her life and is currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in English at Mount Royal University. Mariebelle enjoys reading a good book at a cozy coffee shop – a trip never complete without daydreaming about the eradication of systemic racism.
Photos by Esther Cho