April 16, 2019

POSTED BY

Daniel Hu

CATEGORY

Interview the Gram – @afropuffchronicles

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My good friend Tyler Newman is the founder and creator of Afro Puff Chronicles, a website dedicated to promoting the stories of women and girls of color. Tyler’s always been an inspiration in my life, and her amazing work is making real impact in the community. I wanted to learn …

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My good friend Tyler Newman is the founder and creator of Afro Puff Chronicles, a website dedicated to promoting the stories of women and girls of color. Tyler’s always been an inspiration in my life, and her amazing work is making real impact in the community. I wanted to learn more about Afro Puff Chronicles for this week’s Interview the Gram. You can visit APC’s Instagram here.

Alfalfa Studio: Why do you do what you do?

Tyler Newman: Well, first off, I’m a girl of color living in a world where the stories of girls like me aren’t “mainstream”. Growing up I often had those experiences of “Oh, it feels like I’m the only one that’s going through this.” I didn’t have a lot of women of color in the media to look up to, and many times I resorted to looking at aspects of my identity through a white lens. I spend most of my time in predominantly white spaces, which can be challenging when you’re one of the few black faces in a room. Because of these reasons I longed to be a part of a community in which I could finally be my whole self without holding back. I longed to be in a place where people could relate to me in my entirety, not in select aspects of me. So I founded Afro Puff Chronicles because I knew if I felt this way, there were other young girls out there that felt this way too. My idea was that if I could help only a few people from the creation of this platform, it’d be worth it for it’d be proof that I didn’t become a victim of my environment but instead created an environment of my own in which not only myself but girls from all over the world could thrive. What keeps me going now is getting feedback about how the both afropuffchronicles.com and its Instagram @afropuffchronicles have expanded people’s world views, made them more accepting and loving, taught them something new, helped them through a hard time, or even changed their lives. I love the people that this platform attracts and I want to get to know and serve everyone that joins the APC family.

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“I am troubled by what some people assume about me when they look at my covered head. I know that many outsiders stare at me but don’t imagine me in my bedroom, behind a closed door and dancing to 90s throwbacks or binge-watching Netflix and crying when a character dies. Or ringing our nice white neighbors’ doorbell to hand them a dish of the food my father cooks or a Christmas gift for their two little boys. Neighborliness is a basic teaching of Islam. What people miss when they see me kneeling down to pray, is the Quran memorized in my head, the lessons of peace preached into my ears. The prayer traced onto my hands as they come together and lift up at times good and bad. When people stare at me, they fail to truly see who I really am. So I made it my responsibility to correct their misinterpretations. To tell them my story, to voice my hardships, and to shed light on my religion. Because just like them, I am just trying to achieve my goals, be there for other’s, and attempt to bring light into a world filled with darkness.” ? Read the rest of Siddrah’s story on afropuffchronicles.com!

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AS: Being able to be your whole self must be freeing, but what challenges have come with it in our modern society and online?

TN: I believe that that you will always face opposition from people who either don’t agree with or understand your beliefs, however, after coming this far in my journey to become comfortable and whole, I won’t let anyone’s negativity take that aspect away from me. In terms of online reception, I believe all the feedback received about APC has been extremely positive because it’s a platform that’s needed and it’s filling that need in communities around the world.

AS: Can you give an example of a time that stood out to you when you saw people responding to your platform?

TN: Sure! Here’s a screenshot of an adorable DM that I got from one of the APC family members! 🙂

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I love getting messages like this; it is already such a pleasure to run APC and meet such amazing people through the platform, but by hearing from young women such as Jessica, it makes everything so much more intimate and meaningful.

AS: It makes me wonder, what would you tell your younger self, at around 8 years old? 12?

TN: I would tell myself to cherish every second of youth and not take my imagination for granted because I believe it’s harder to maintain child-like creativity when you’re older, and I often yearn to go back to a time when I thought everything was possible, before society told children that reality had limits. My goal as a creative is to keep my inner child alive.

AS: How do you think APC has helped you grow as a person?

TN: For years I was very frustrated with my situation at my school. Not being able to make the deeper connections that I wanted to make with the girls at my school due to cultural gaps was a constant source of dissatisfaction in my life. However by seeing how far APC has come and the multitudes of lives it’s touched, I have come to understand that my difference was my destiny. I was not made to be like everyone else at my school, I wasn’t made to fit in and that’s okay, because my not fitting in, the very thing that I believed was my worst flaw, turned out to be my biggest strength.

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My name is Jessica Valadez Fraire and I am a queer indigenous creative who seeks to find “meaning in the ordinary”. I do not see an accurate portrayal of brown and black people in mainstream media. As an indigenous woman, I seek to create media that captures the complex identities of other marginalized people. Photography has been that medium for me. When I take photos of fellow brown and black individuals, specifically youth, I am rewriting the narrative set out for us. I want to show vulnerability and strength and happiness in our communities. It’s time to write out own stories. ?? ???????????? ???????????? For more of Jessica’s photography, check out her Instagram @_jessicavf_ and her piece on afropuffchronicles.com!

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AS: Where do you see APC headed in the future?

TN: In the future, I see APC holding irl events so that members can meet each other face to face, and share their stories/“chronicles”. I believe that these in person meetings will add another dimension to APC, for girls will be able to connect and stay in communication with each other in a way that’s different from just messaging online. They’ll have the chance to build deeper connections and have more in depth discussions, which is the whole purpose of APC!

Thank you Tyler for sharing your thoughts! Make sure to check out Afro Puff Chronicle’s Instagram page and website!!

All images © Tyler Newman @afropuffchronicles via Instagram.