Creative Direction by Junzhe Tang

Written by Ethan Richmond

Photography by Junzhe Tang and Duc Tran

Model: Joseph Plitt

(THE MAN sits in his studio apartment, smoking a cigarette. Film strips are scattered on his spare furniture.) 

(He picks up one of the strips. If he stares at it for long enough, maybe he’ll have some idea of what to do with it.) 

(He sets it back down. Staring didn’t help. The blank strips are nothing but reminders of his lack of ideas. Mementos to his creative emptiness.) 

(Without warmth, his room shifts. Expands. The walls are pulled back. Given a different color than gray. On them, family photos appear. The windows bulge, growing from little slits until they take up half the wall. It’s dark out, but the warm light of the overhead bulb could fool you into thinking it’s day. The dust that hangs in the air glows. 

(On a couch, in the center of the room, sits THE MAN’S MOTHER.) 

(On her lap, the man sees himself.) 

(He knows instinctively that it is him. Instant recognition. He wants to reach out and say something. Especially to his mother. She’s been gone for… anyway, he can’t. He doesn’t even try. He knows it won’t work.)

(THE CHILD awakes. He looks up at his mother briefly, then puts his head back down on her lap. THE MOTHER taps him gently.) 

MOTHER: You should go to your room. 

(THE CHILD murmurs something.) 


THE CHILD: Why can’t I just stay here? 

(THE MOTHER smiles.) 

(The room shifts again. Now THE MAN is somewhere else. It doesn’t look exactly like how he remembers it – some of the toys are in different places, his bedsheets are a different color. But despite the incongruities, THE MAN instantly knows where he is. His childhood bedroom.) 

(THE CHILD sits on the bed. The lights are still on. He looks ahead  and sees THE MAN.) 

THE CHILD: We haven’t met yet. 

(THE MAN startles.) 

THE MAN: What—what do you mean? 

THE CHILD: There’s Theo, Papo, and Gimbo. We play every day. But you’ve never played with us. 

(Instantly, he remembers. Theo, his stuffed teddy bear. Papo, a lanky, humanoid rabbit. Gimbo—what the hell was he supposed to be, an alien? THE MAN’s menagerie of imaginary friends. THE MAN is at a loss for words.) 

THE CHILD: You look like Daddy. 

(THE MAN doesn’t even want to think about that.) 

THE MAN: I’m… I’m neither of those things. 

THE CHILD: Then what? 

(THE MAN turns the idea of telling the truth over in his head. This is probably a dream. He couldn’t really be here. In this room.) 

THE MAN: I’m you. 

(THE CHILD doesn’t seem surprised.) 

THE MAN: A few years from now, anyway. Well… (he looks around the room) not a few years. A lot—a lot of years. 

THE CHILD: What would I know? 

THE MAN: I’m not really sure what you mean. 

THE CHILD (as if all in one breath): I read this book where a man travels from the future and tries to tell his friend stuff, and his friend made him prove it by asking him a thing about him that only he would know.
(It takes a second for THE MAN to follow his younger self’s sentence. Also, he can’t seem to remember this book. When he was younger, he thought he’d remember every book he read.) 

THE MAN: Okay. (He racks his brain.) Can I show you something? 

(THE CHILD looks skeptical for a moment, then quickly nods his head.) 

(THE MAN pulls up his left pant leg. On his ankle, two parallel scars. Once great, now faded.) 

THE MAN: I opened—we opened the back door too quickly. Wanted to play outside. It sliced open our ankle. It really hurt. Then Dad came out and… (THE MAN remembers his father ridiculing him for crying, mocking him for asking for mother, leaving him, bleeding, alone outside.) Anyway, that should have happened to you by now. 

(THE CHILD grimaces, then pulls up his pant leg. Two much longer lines. A little faded, but still very deep.) 

THE CHILD: Okay. (Suddenly, a burst of energy.) Can we play Twenty Questions? You know Twenty Questions? 

THE MAN: Sure. (He looks around.) Can I sit down? 

THE CHILD: Yeah. Just sit on the bed. But take off your shoes. 

(THE MAN complies.) 

THE CHILD: What am I when I grow up? Am I an astronaut? Am I a firefighter? Am I a police officer? 

THE MAN: You’re a photographer. (He pulls out a film reel from his breast pocket.) And a writer. So, really—you’re all of them. 

THE CHILD: Is Craig still my best friend? 

(THE MAN resists the urge to ask who Craig is. He stands there for a moment, trying to seem like he knows, but is just trying to think of the perfect phrasing. He reaches into every corner of his brain, trying to summon Craig. Finally, he manages to scrape out a foggy recollection. Walking home from school together. Sleepovers on Sunday. Play fighting. Different middle schools. A promise they’d stay in touch. A few Facebook messages a couple years back. Nothing else.) 

THE MAN: You make a lot of friends. A lot of different people, wherever you go. But you’ll always know Craig. 

THE CHILD: Do I still see Theo? And Papo? And Gimbo? Mrs. Wormwood says that they’re gonna go away when I get older. I know they’re not going to. I know she’s wrong. She’s wrong, right? 

THE MAN: Yeah. Of course you do. Especially Theo. He sticks around. Always been more reliable than the other two. 

(THE CHILD mouths out the word “reliable.”) 

THE MAN: It’s—it’s when you can count on somebody. You know they’re going to show up. Because they’re reliable. 

(THE CHILD nods. He was always eager to learn new things. THE MAN remembers his phases of learning, about dinosaurs, sharks, space – rushing home and telling his mother all the knowledge he’d gained, tripping over his own words.) 

THE CHILD: Does Mrs. Wormwood get nicer? 

(This answer comes with no hesitation.) 

THE MAN: I’m sorry, but if anything, she gets worse. How many times has she put you in time out? 

THE CHILD: Five. No, four. 

THE MAN: I think she put everyone there at least nine times. So get ready for five more. Reasons were all bullsh – it’s never for a real reason. She’s just one of those teachers. 

THE CHILD: Am I gonna have more of those teachers? 

THE MAN: Yeah. There’s a lot of jerks out there. But you get some good ones too. (Mrs. Wormwood, that was third grade. Yeah, third grade. Fourth grade, that was a good year. Schuman. THE MAN remembered loving Schuman.) Next year, that’s gonna be fun. High school, you get a lot of good teachers too. 

THE MAN: What else? Any other questions? 

THE CHILD: Does Daddy start coming here more? Does he get more reliable? 

(THE MAN wishes THE CHILD would ask about teachers again. He knew how to answer that. How does he answer this? That day in the car. Mom driving. Dad gone, as per usual. The truck hit the front seat from the side. Not the backseat. It didn’t touch the backseat. Dad making him move away—he didn’t want to leave the house. He was in third grade. So two years from now. Two more years of Mom. Two more years before living with Dad.) 

THE MAN: Yes. You see a lot more of him. 

(THE CHILD pauses. He thinks hard about his next question.) 

(After further consideration, he asks.) 

THE CHILD: Do I do something great?

(THE MAN thinks back to his apartment. Scattered film negatives. A few published photos here and there. Not much to show for his work. For his passion, that Dad berated him for following. That he blew so much money to major in—it would take years to pay all those loans off. No one else in the apartment. No time for a social life. Gotta focus on getting out there, getting exposure. That’s all that matters.) 

THE MAN: We’re going to do great things. 

(Instantly, the dimensions of the room shift again. THE MAN returns to his empty studio apartment.) 

(He picks up a film reel, not wanting to process what just happened.) 

(He knows what his next project is.)




Written and directed by Zaryah Qareeb

Photographed by Emma Cahill

Styled by Angel Woodard

Makeup by Akunna Chiedu

Models: Kay Aluvanse, Melody Smith, Angel Woodard, and Daphne Bryant


Afrofuturism: An art movement that combines science-fiction, history, and fantasy to explore the Black experience and aims to connect those from the Black diaspora. While there exist various interpretations, its essence revolves around the ideas of Reclaiming, Liberating, and Revising the past.

Although the phrase may not be widely recognized, its impact resonates across the digital realm—especially as the younger generation becomes chronically online, wielding the globe at their fingertips. This digital shift has profound implications for the future of Black children. Culture has transitioned into the digital age, and kids are building their own reality. Through the phenomena of TikTok dances, imaginative avatars like IMVU, and the emergence of Aaliyahcore, today’s youth are not only reinventing themselves but also contributing to the richness of Black culture on the internet.

Afrofuturism emerged as a term to define contemporary trends that blended Black literature and 1980s technoculture. Over time, it evolved into a lens for envisioning a more empowering future for the Black community through the mediums of music, art, and speculative fiction—a concept that has been present since the creation of science fiction in the 19th century. However, Afrofuturism rose to prominence in the 1960s, largely attributed to the influence of the avant-garde jazz artist Sun Ra.

From the writings of Octavia Butler and iconic cinema like The Wiz and Black Panther, to music artists like Janelle Monae, Afrofuturism has always lingered in the background of our childhoods. The objective of Afrofuturism is to portray a future where Black individuals harness technology to become leaders of their own worlds, a narrative that’s absent in mainstream science fiction. However, thanks to the internet, this movement is able to continue with Generation Z. 

The concept of Futurism has traditionally symbolized fresh opportunities, yet as a Black individual, I couldn’t help but question where I stood in this evolving landscape. After all, machines are an extension of their creators. The world quickly learned how technology would be used to further the oppression of marginalized voices. We grew up witnessing digital blackface, videos of police brutality, and influencers releasing apology videos for using slurs. Exposed to the reality of the world, we grew up navigating a whole new plane that previous generations couldn’t prepare us for. 

So, like most children, we sought an escape from reality by finding tiny spaces and corners of the internet where we could simply be young and free. Through playing virtual games, creating micro-trends, and building Soundcloud playlists, we used technology to create our own representation, which, in my opinion, is the core of Futurism. Although we weren’t consciously pursuing Afrofuturism, its influence was unmistakable. We still delivered its objective, allowing Black children to see themselves in the new future. 


In a world overshadowed by pessimism, our dreams endure. Despite the challenges, we persist in cultivating our aspirations, channeling our hopes, passions, and creativity into an uncertain future. As we continue to craft alternative visions of tomorrow, the Black youth are now seizing control of the internet, a once intimidating and foreign concept, and leveraging it as a platform to authentically express their true selves. From a long line of dreamers, the youth continue to carry this torch. 

Girl Experimental

Written by Kimstelle Merisma

Photography by Khatima Bulmer

Models: Mithsuca Berry and Bev J

When I was younger, I was a DIY baby through and through. Any free moment and access to the internet I had was spent looking up how I could craft things with my hands: doll outfits out of my old clothes, jewelry organizers out of plastic containers and duct tape, miniature furniture for my Littlest Pet Shops out of empty tissue boxes, makeup out of crayons—you name it. I made virtually anything that the internet promised I could with things I had at home. YouTubers like MyFroggyStuff and LaurDIY convinced me that whatever I wanted—and with whatever I had— I could make it myself. And boy, did I believe them. Very quickly, though, I realized that my love for art didn’t end with the crafts I could make. The resourcefulness I had for art projects started to bleed into all of my other interests. I became enthralled with the idea of being an artist of  many capacities— a visual artist, a writer, a singer, a musician, a performer and more. I wanted to be good with words as much as I wanted to be good with a paintbrush. I wanted to succeed as a singer as much as I wanted to succeed as an actor. I wanted to be everything. I wanted to experiment. I was desperate to do everything I had even a remote interest in, and I would be lying if I said some, if not all, of these things weren’t still true of me today. 









Fast forward to today, I’ve come to the realization that the attitudes I had towards art– the hunger, the resourcefulness, the desire to be multi-talented— are all things that have shaped me and continue to shape me today. This desire to experiment with all of my interests and dive into multiple avenues of expression is something that has not left me, not for a second. And I can’t help but think about how these qualities not only influenced my approach to artistry but also informed my queerness. The word that comes to mind is metamorphosis. Among all the ideas and random shit I was making in my room, I was also making me. Beneath the tattered pieces of fabric and pages ripped out of my notebook, I was discovering who I was and what I liked, as well as what I was and who I liked. While I was on the floor of my childhood bedroom and accidentally gluing my fingers together with hot glue and getting glitter under my fingernails, I was becoming. 

I had the honor of meeting and interviewing two queer Haitian artists I admire: costume designer and fashion artist Beverly Joseph and visual artist and storyteller Mithsuca Berry. I got to ask them about their experimental childhoods and how they’ve informed both of  their identities and artistries today. They had beautiful, insightful things to say about their childhood obsessions, their Haitian upbringings and their queer discoveries.  


Beverly was born and raised in Haiti and lived there until they moved to New York City at the age of nine. Two words Beverly uses to describe themself are versatile and adaptable. While talking about their favorite pastimes in childhood, they recalled not having access to a wide range of toys but making do with what they had. (A common thread for Haitian kids, huh?) She spoke about how, like me, she had a lot of fixations in her youth and experimented with several hobbies such as writing, reading, illustrating, coloring with their mom’s lipsticks and eventually finding a love for fashion. Along with these various hobbies, something else that drove Beverly’s upbringing was her curiosity. They recalled how, in their youth, they were often told that they were too rebellious in the way they asked questions and spoke out against people’s expectations of them. These expectations, especially for a young Haitian girl, included academic success, staying in line with gender norms, and making their family proud. Beverly felt there was a limited space where they could just be, with all of their true colors, ideas, and curiosity. “It is important to find a way to turn inward and find the space for yourself,” Beverly shared. With all of these themes of creativity, defiance, and inquisitiveness within her childhood, I asked Beverly how she finds these pieces translating into her adulthood now. She explained that she no longer second guesses her judgment and sense: “I don’t have that fear that it’s not going to work. It might not happen exactly as I envisioned it but it’s going to work. I have this inherent childhood innocence that says there is no such thing as ‘things don’t work.’” It put a smile on my face to hear that Beverly’s resilient spirit and confidence has only emboldened since childhood. 


Mithsuca’s two words to describe themself were transformative—like a chameleon, they emphasized—and spiritual. They immediately expanded on what they meant by spiritual: “[a] desire to know more and question what I’ve been taught; thinking about what the meaning of existence is and developing that has made me spiritual.” Like Beverly, Mithsuca was also called rebellious and overly curious as a kid. They described how they often questioned why people did or believed certain things and the response, specifically from older people in their life, was to reprimand that curiosity. We discussed how our elders, in all of their scolding of our questions, most likely had the same ones but chose to stay silent about their own confusion and instead, reprehend ours. I loved getting to hear about Mithsuca’s attitude towards being open to new ideas and ways of thinking: “Like, shake something up a little bit!” They also mentioned that, as a kid, because they spent so much time in their room, they had a lot of time to be alone and to create things. “The socio-economic status of my family […] ultimately resulted in me spending a lot of time making things and having the space to just be a kid but in a very isolated sense. I was able to protect a lot of my creativity and innocence throughout that experience because I always had these bubbles where I could talk to myself and, and just make things,” they shared. I was surprised to see this theme of being in our rooms and creating ourselves in our rooms repeatedly come up for Beverly, Mithsuca and myself. While thinking about how elements of their childhood have carried into their adulthood, Mithsuca reflected on their place in the world and how they’ve constantly had to think about how they can change the old-fashioned practices: “If all of these places are being modeled after systems that are really old and are really exclusive, inherently everything that I have to do is like an experiment for myself. How do I freak it? How do I make an opportunity that may not exist right now? Like within my reach, out of thin air.” Both Mithsuca and Beverly’s determination to challenge outdated norms and create unique opportunities for themselves to be their truest selves is a testament to the resourcefulness, adaptability and perseverance that is embedded in the three of us and Haitian kids everywhere. 


Both artists spoke about their queer and Haitian identities as inextricable, highlighting that their experiences in the world are shaped by both identities simultaneously. Beverly and Mithsuca shared the parts of Haitian culture that continue to influence their lives, inspire their artistry and shape their existences. Beverly spoke specifically about how developing their relationship with Haitian culture and traditions such as Carnival made them develop a deeper connection to fashion. They shared, “I restructured my relationship with Carnival and the voice it gave women to participate in that; how the culture of Haitian fashion came about and how it came about as a destruction of colonial structure.” They acknowledged that embedded within Haitian culture is a long history of anti-colonialism, rebellion and radical expression that they, naturally, feel those same things within themself. Beverly also spoke to how being Haitian in America is inherently a queer experience. Though a lot of their identity is formed by their experience in the United States, nothing can take away the parts of their heritage that are embedded in who they are. They shared a poetic sentiment about their Haitian-American identity: “Brooklyn, New York, USA, hood adjacent— all of that is where I am and I color it in with who I am.“ Mithsuca, similarly, finds an intrinsic quality of Haitian people to be their scrappiness and craftyness. We had an insightful conversation about how for most of Haiti’s history, spanning from the Revolution to the 2010 earthquake to the recent assassination of Haiti’s president, Haitian people have had to constantly recover drastically and start from scratch. “I’ve always seen Haitians as very crafty people, you know, stretching things whether that be money, clothes or something,” they expressed. In sharing their deep connections to their Haitian identities and the intricate interplay of queerness, resilience, and rebellion, Beverly and Mithsuca illuminated the richness and complexity of their cultural heritage and how it has always showed up in their existences.

Through my interviews with Beverly and Mithsuca, I was able to put my own Haitian upbringing and queer experience against the backdrops of theirs and I realized that there are some Haitian experiences that are truly universal. Both of these multi-talented artists provided beautiful anecdotes and insights about intricate intersections of their identities and the way creativity, resistance and resilience have followed them from childhood to now, bleeding into their artistry, queerness, and cultural identity. The existence of these queer Haitian individuals, including myself, and all of our unwavering desires to be our truest selves is the essence of Haitians. It took me far too long—twenty-one years, to be exact—to embrace the ways in which my Haitian-American identity and my queerness have always existed in tandem. This discovery was largely made possible by the conversations I had with these two individuals so Beverly and Mithsuca, thank you.

Child’s Eyes

Written and Creative Direction by Sage Greenwood

Photography by Lilli Drescher

Models Nicole Guth, Ruby McLean, and Sage Greenwood

Not-So-Girl Barbie

Mother put down the plastic box, 

said “Sweetie, it looks just like you.”

The little girl gave a bright pink Barbie smile;

she loves playing with dolls so, so much! She paints faces 

in pretty colors and when she rips heads off

she does it gently because she loves it so, so much!


When mother falls asleep,

the little girl has the perfect plan.

She fills the bathtub with bubbles,

drops the doll right in,

presses it down to the porcelain.


Layer the Body/Carve Out the Self

From the hallway, dim light leaks 

onto blue cheeks, pink throat,  

red cut across the face; smile 

of a paint-person made of acrylic, still wet. 


Handprints on the wall, mirror, sink; 

a nightlight, layered to useless 


I reach— 

the paint-person reaches for the door handle— 

Not me. It’s not me. 


The paint-person blocks out the light.