Volume III

In my life, the real holy trinity is garlic, peppers, and onion. 

Sofrito. 

I’ve learned that it is this way for many lost generation Venezuelans. Maybe, more than the quiet melancholia of Simon Diaz or finding yourself of Bolivar Ave in Paris, sofrito is the one thing that unites us. 

If you’re Venezuelan your hair smells of sofrito and your house and pillow smell of sofrito and you don’t even know it. I recently moved into an apartment building and when my friends came to visit me for the first time, they told me that they just followed the familiar smell of my personal holy trinity down the hallway and found their way to me and my black beans and rice.

I have the sort of parents who hold food in the same reverence that others might hold religious idols. For this alone, I know that I am priveledged beyond measure. 

We weren’t rich. My parents were undocumented immigrants for 15 years and with this came the struggles that so many families, undocumented or not, know well. My dad worked three jobs as a janitor, dish washer, and mechanic. My mom stayed at home with us to teach us, guide us, and decide what was best for our family. 

For my parents, meals were sacred. Food was something to prioritize. It wasn’t something to scrimp on because that would cost too much. They would cut corners on toys or clothes or needless technology but absolutely never on food and absolutely never on books.

My parents understood that food is the foundation for a healthy body, something necessary for those who don’t have health insurance.  My brother was soccer player. As an undocumented immigrant, he was selected to represent the United States in a match against Germany. He couldn’t leave the country to do so. My sister, born in the States, became a professional ballet dancer. An injury for them, beyond the spiritual pain of the possible end of a personal dream, would have been enough to bankrupt our immigrant family and put us in serious trouble. Our medicine, for body and soul, came in the form of olive oil, eggs, beans, vegetables, and sofrito.

What follows this short introduction is a dance with the most intimate of our relationships: our relationship with food. This volumes’s writers take us through memory, political strife and hard times. They take us through streets that we may never go to save for in our minds eye. We journey through many countries and many trips to the past and into the melancholic future. This collection is medicine. It is eye candy. It will make you hungry. It will make you hungry for change. It is introspective and damning. It looks for solutions to problems that few have had the heart to try. I applaud the contributors for opening their hearts and inviting us into their minds. 

Dear Reader, it was a pleasure to collect these experiences for these pages. As always, I wish you health and happiness.

Michelle Assaad, Editor in Chief

Volume II

On the Subject of Race

When it came time to planning the second volume of Black Feather Magazine, it became very clear to me that the planned volume, A Portrait of People, had to be put aside. The beauty of Black Feather is that it is fluid and is able to respond to real life events in real time. A Portrait of People will have its moment. But this is not it. This moment belongs to serious discussions about race and race relations. It belongs to understanding the perspective and existence of others. Black Feather Magazine was created to have these discussions and provide a space for diverse voices and experiences to take the stage

Oyinkansola Wumkes is the guest editor of this volume. A more brilliant and talent being, impossible. She has curated a collection of global voices and experiences to talk about a range of topics that are timely and important. It was my absolute honor to work side by side with her and the contributors on this volume.

Michelle Assaad

Editor in Chief

Volume I

Black Feather Magazine has been 13 years in the making. Imagined as an artist’s paradise, these pages serve as a space where ideas, stories, and images can find a home and can fuel further art. This magazine is, above all, an ode to the silent artist. It is an ode to the people who can fill empty spaces with stories and find inspiration in the most unassuming, or challenging, of circumstances.  

This issue of Black Feather Magazine is an ode to empty spaces and challenges. The past few months have created emptiness out of spaces that have usually been bursting with life. I’ve walked past empty restaurants where I can almost hear the lingering chatter that used to live there. I’ve skated through streets where I once sat in traffic. Everything has shifted and a lot of people are just now getting to know themselves. This emptiness has forced this upon us. I wanted to explore this. I asked some of my friends and family if they would like to contribute to this opening issue of Black Feather Magazine. I was surprised at the number of enthusiastic replies. I was even more surprised at the unveiled stories, thoughts, and experiences that they wrote about. I was surprised that many contributors didn’t know how heavy the burden of isolation and quarantine was until they wrote about it. 

And so, dear Reader, I invite you to download the magazine below and read these stories and really feel these images. I invite you to get to know yourself through the lives of others and the emptiness that has suddenly come to define our lives. I welcome you to the world of Black Feather Magazine and would like to remind you that “even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise.”