young, colored & angry! sets out to flip that phrase on its head

Its title may be tongue-in-cheek but its purpose is serious: a new magazine gives young people of color a platform to un-brand themselves and share their art.

by Courtney Iseman
28 May 2015, 1:55pm

​Photography Nicole Disser

The title Young, Colored & Angry! might lead you to believe you're about to read a collection of radical rants, but that assumption is exactly why Ashley Raimi Syed and Elliott Brown, Jr. started the magazine. Syed and Brown aren't radicals, but they have things to say and they don't want to be branded with that term.

Brown and Syed came together while studying at NYU. Brown is a black, queer man entering his senior year at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in the fall, and Syed is an American-raised woman with parents from Iran and Pakistan, who just graduated with a BFA in Film and Television. Syed had the idea for the magazine based on her experiences in her classes.

"As I am usually the only Middle Eastern woman in [my] art classes, I often sense that my peers feel uncomfortable offering critique on the content of my work," she says. "The lack of diversity that spawns these dilemmas isn't fair because my white classmates are able to gain critical insight on their projects and grow, whereas I only get vague comments about the visual aesthetics of my work. In those moments when I openly expressed my frustration, I could feel myself being written off as 'young, colored and angry.' I thought, why not create a space where other young People of Color who share my frustration can unite and create a safe and respectful place for us to grow."

Syed and Brown initially intended the magazine to be a print publication featuring the work of fellow NYU students, but the more they began meeting with peers, the more word spread. Soon, they were flooded with responses from artists and writers from Chicago, Los Angeles, Ghana, London and Palestine.

"Globally, people began to identify the space that this magazine created as a necessity," Brown explains. "Which isn't to say that there aren't existing platforms that share our mission ( and to name a few), but it is to say that there aren't enough. We wanted to create a magazine that encouraged artistic and academic responses to systemic inequality and racialized existence, as these voices too often go unnurtured."

Young, Colored & Angry! launched on April 25, and Syed and Brown held an art show at Holyrad Studio in Bushwick to complement the debut. For the magazine, they feature thought-provoking works from self-identified people of color that offer different perspectives from different races and experiences. In the first issue, you'll find pieces like Rules to Live By, Ryan Moody's list of behavioral do's and don't's a young black woman is "supposed" to abide by in society, and Hari Ziyad's When Surviving an Oppressive System Makes You a Part of It. Going forward, Syed and Brown are considering curating works into themed issues and more art shows. They'd like to start offering different translations of the magazine, and are taking time to carefully plan its mission so that it will remain a welcoming space for all people of color to express themselves and learn from each other.

"We [want] to emphasize the various points of divergence where each perspective maintains its distinctions," Brown says. "It is important that we acknowledge and celebrate our differences just as fervently as we do our similarities. This magazine is about self-representation and communicating an individual, nuanced experience on one's own terms."


Text Courtney Iseman
Photography Nicole Disser

elliott brown jr
ashley raimi syed
young colored and angry