Read All About It: Blacklight Magazine

Minority students find a voice and share their experiences through art
Blacklight minority experiences art race
Photo by: 
Steven Piper

Our "Read All About It" series will look at different student publications on campus that showcase the diversity and talent of our campus.

Name: Blacklight Magazine

Established in: 2013

Editors-in-Chief (as of the 2015-2016 school year): fourth-years Natalie Richardson and MeeSoh Bossard 

Headquarters: No particular location

Most memorable submission: Michelle Gan’s moving photo-essay, in which she explored her roots in the Philippines and in China.

How to get involved: Contribute any type of visual or written work, or apply to be part of the editorial team. Email or go to their website.

Where to find it on campus: Currently not available on campus, but they’re working on putting it in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA) and the Center for Race and Politics next year.

Blacklight is, literally, a kind of ultraviolet light. It has a purplish glow and shows us a light that our eyes normally can’t see. On a metaphorical level, however, it can be interpreted as the light that searches for things that are buried, “not because they aren’t there, but because we weren’t paying enough attention,” MeeSoh Bossard explains. Blacklight Magazine serves a similar purpose: it seeks out stories that are so ingrained in our everyday lives that we pay no heed to them, and yet these same stories are the ones that need to be told.

Blacklight Magazine started as a branch of the Organization of Black Students and, until this year, was only published online. The recent decision to publish in print was partly due to an increase in funding, but also because both editors felt that Blacklight’s physical presence on campus was crucial for increasing its visibility. In this new, tangible form, Blacklight can also reinvent itself in exciting ways—the editors added that a print version also affords them more creativity with the design and layout of the magazine.

Blacklight magazine hands roots routes where are you fromArtist: Kanisha Williams

While the magazine began as a project to highlight the work of black students, MeeSoh and Natalie Richardson are looking to expand its reach. Both editors come from mixed race backgrounds, which influences their work and their overarching goals for the magazine. Their mission is to uplift the voices of all minorities and traditionally marginalized groups not only on the UChicago campus, but also college campuses all over the country—submissions from all college students are welcome.

The editors believe that the word "Black" leads to the misconception that the magazine only publishes the work of black students. One of their many goals has been to rebuild Blacklight’s image as a platform for all marginalized students. When MeeSoh, who is part Korean, came on board, Blacklight began to receive more submissions from the Asian community—a first for the publication and a huge step toward realizing their goal.

Society tends to cleave minorities apart, and the influx of Asian narratives could be a way to ignite cross-collaborative initiatives. Natalie echoes this sentiment, saying “minorities tend to retreat into their own cultural or racial organizations, and they don’t interact with each other.” They hope that by combining different narratives into one bound text, they can spark the idea that all of our identities can exist in the same space to create something unique and beautiful.

The magazine rarely receives submissions from non-minority students, but Natalie says they usually evaluate all submissions on a case-by-case basis. She also talked about “challenging what a minority really is” by underlining that traditionally marginalized students deserved a voice. Students with mental illnesses and disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds have a place in the magazine’s pages. Blacklight has adopted a policy of inclusivity: pulling in stories from all kinds of people and placing them alongside each other to create a rich and vibrant community of storytellers.

Despite the hard work, both editors feel privileged to have access to a passionate community of writers and artists, many of whom they may never have met otherwise. These people have altered their UChicago experience for the better, even outside the sphere of Blacklight. Not only that, as MeeSoh explained, the experience has also allowed them to meet other people of color in UChicago’s predominately white student body. The most valuable aspect of their job seems to be the fact that the editors are publishing stories that minorities want to see in the worldwide narrative, stories that directly affect their lives and their perceptions of themselves. These narratives are often personal, and the editors feel privileged to look through and understand the world of the writer.     

As the magazine continues forward, it hopes to further its main goal: while it’s important to see our individual differences, it’s even more important to see the common threads that bind us together. These threads are often far more inextricable than one may think, for they make a dense web that ultimately builds our entire community.

Tagged: Blacklight magazine, race, gender, OBS, Organization of Black Students, read all about it