• society of gen z

Interview with Sarina Patel, Creator of Novel Minority

1. What inspired you to create Novel Minority? I’ve been a competitive writer for many years, and it’s not always presented itself as a healthy environment for creative expression. BIPOC are often pressured to create palatable versions of very real trauma for white validation & judgment, just so they can win awards and receive money/opportunities. But I find joy in both competition and creation, so I knew I needed to create a community that addresses the problem of creative exploitation with joy, compassion, and humor...while also providing healthy & liberating opportunities for BIPOC teens to compete free of the white gaze (because we’re run exclusively by BIPOC).

2. What do you hope to accomplish with Novel Minority? We have big dreams for Novel Minority, and though we can’t disclose them at this time, rest assured: we’re so excited for you to see them soon! Though we want to tackle many equity and solidarity-based problems within the publication industry (resources, competition, etc), Novel Minority is charged by an environment of radical creative joy. We choose not to hate the competitions that cultivate this environment. We choose to love our fellow BIPOC teen creatives & addressing the needs of our community, and that love is what fuels Novel Minority to soar as we do. Currently, everything Novel Minority produces – every event, every infographic – is free and volunteer-organized. We have resolved to care about and fiercely protect other BIPOC artists...because who else will? I think that’s the wonderful part about defining ourselves as a community instead of, say, a corporation. So ultimately, we hope to increase compassion within our community.

3. Do you think BIPOC communities are often underrepresented? Why or why not? Underrepresented, underestimated, underpaid, and undervalued. Young BIPOC creatives? Even more. Being young means, in many cases, being taught to settle for less. Less representation, less experience, less financial compensation, less value because we’re young & supposed to wait our turn. Less teen writing inclusivity: we are led to believe that there’s only so many of us, and only so many opportunities. But opportunities are not scarce -- there’s more than enough opportunity for everyone to succeed, in fact. And where there isn’t enough opportunity – we will meet the needs of our community.

4. How do you hope to empower minority communities? Our work is both extrinsic and intrinsic. Beyond our competitions, we discuss the realities of getting published with adult authors (our #WriterOfTheWeek interviews). We invite teen creatives onto our platform to discuss their struggles with creating in a pandemic and give us a day in their lives (our #WhatsInMyJournal takeovers). We highlight world issues at the intersection of politics & writing (our current events infographics); if you’re BIPOC, your writing is inherently political because your identity is politicized. Therefore, you should be prepared to care about these issues, if you’re not already living them. But connecting BIPOC teen creatives to the outside world is just the physical work: you have to connect them to friends who can support them (through our open mics) and connect them to their own confidence (by hyping teen writers up via social media and honestly discussing creative growth).

5. What is an extremely important issue that you have addressed, and why do you think that one is the most significant? Our infographic released around Decision Day: “PWIS: The BIPOC Experience”. Many BIPOC teens outside of the writing community reached out to us & expressed how deeply they resonated with that post. It’s always astounding when something we’ve created makes it outside of the writing community bubble – it validates the creative direction we’re heading in & the experiences we’ve had as BIPOC teens. We want to push that bubble until it pops!

6. What is your favorite project that Novel Minority has conducted in the past? The Novel Mics – our free open mic events for BIPOC teens to speak their truths and share their stories, hosted on the last Saturday of each month & open to performers across all disciplines of art. We don’t just want to connect teen writers to professionals – we want them to form their own creative network, and that starts by making friends & sharing their work at events like these. They’re not just fun for the performers, either— our team always has so much fun facilitating these open mics, and we love to see new writers open up & make friends. We hope we’re making the creative community a bit more colorful, a bit more connected, and a bit more comfortable – one mic at a time.

Novel Minority is an online creative community by & for BIPOC teens. By teaching BIPOC teens to tell their stories without relying on competitive validation & providing them with free opportunities to do so, we are effectively organizing our fiction into your reality. Through monthly community outreach programs centered on education, mentorship, & storytelling (interviews, takeovers, infographics, open mics), we are building a community of confident & creative BIPOC teens that can tackle issues at the intersection of politics & writing. Say hello on all socials @novelminority

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