“I was tired of other people telling my stories, and I was tired of a rampant anti-immigrant rhetoric making it difficult to celebrate stories from immigrant communities,” says Kieran Yates, a journalist and the woman behind the extraordinary documentary Muslim Drag Queens. So, she decided to start British Values, a fanzine celebrating immigrant communities in the UK.
The zine’s aesthetic is one of a style mag ( Super Super played a big role) but also influenced by the internet, and was created with designer Tom Lloyd and New York designer Amad Ilyas. “We had a transatlantic Skype relationship,” says Kieran. “It was great because so much of our experience was universal even though he’s a Pakistani guy living in New York and I’m an Indian girl living in London. It was cool and he had an excellent vision and helped me learn stuff I had no idea about – like InDesign, which I hate.”
As British Values lives both online and in print, Kieran was keen that while the aesthetic borrows from style magazines like iD, it also used the busy, emoji-packed look we know from digital. “There had to be enough white space that features can breathe on the page, but some pages had to feel like the internet – inundated with Twitter comments etc. The photographs will be a mix of screenshots, photos taken on phones, and high quality beautifully shot portraits and profiles,” she says.
The first issue features insights from novelist Nikesh Shukla, Grime MC Rapid (Ruff Sqwad), DJ/producer Kindness and a range of other artists, writers and journalists. “The idea is that online is a safe space for minorities and it is where lots of solidarity amongst minority communities take place,” says Kieran. “That might be on Twitter, in the comments of a hijabi YouTuber or forums. It enables arch criticism behind the guise of anonymity so that minorities without mainstream voices can have a platform and be funny and ephemeral.
“Some of the funniest, most intelligent voices and stories have been systematically erased, and it’s time to fight that. What resulted was a real showcase of something that I can’t really see anyone else doing.”
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