In the Spotlight

The Nasiona Writing Prompts League, Season 1 Stats & Rankings

by The Nasiona Team in Writing Prompts Tournaments

The Nasiona’s Writing Prompts League is the gymnasium of the mind. Every prompt master was once a beginner. Check out our stats and rankings after 5 of our 6 season tournaments. Over 100 international competitors have participated. Nobody ever won a writing prompt tournament by resigning, so join us and submit your original work. The Nasiona’s Writing Prompts League is beautiful enough to waste your life for. […]

Current Issue: Issue 24 | Spring 2021

Issue 23 | Winter 2021

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 46 – ‘You Look Like a Terrorist’ & Other Racial Traumas, Part 2

Julián Esteban Torres López speaks with Dr. Parisa Mehran, founder of Women of Color in English Language Teaching. They discuss passport privilege and the barriers for international students. They also speak about obstacles to legal immigration, why POC international students may not finish university, share their own experiences of the impact of being called terrorists, and much more. Musical Guests: Aroe Phoenix & Mallika Vie. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 45 – Racism and Racial Trauma in English Language Teaching, Part 1

We speak with Dr. Parisa Mehran, founder of Women of Color in English Language Teaching (ELT), to explore how white supremacy is at the heart of ELT and how the industry functions as a racist propaganda machine. We discuss how native-speakerism and passport privilege can be forms of racism, and we shine a light on some of the detrimental consequences of racism in ELT, such as racial abuse and its effects on mental health. Musical guest: Stephanie Henry. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 44 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 2

Vanessa Weathers, Founder and Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, joins us to explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We discuss how marginalized folks may be better positioned for leadership roles.  We unpack questions, such as: What’s behind the claim “diversity is white genocide”? Where is power truly rooted in an organization? How can we design local politics to get the best results and to get people in the right roles? And much more. Musical guest: Samantha Pearl. […]

BIPOC Music Series

Volume 1: Petrichor

This first volume of The Nasiona’s music series encapsulates all the glorious highs and the searing lows of navigating the world as an empathetic, curious individual. The works contained in this volume — from mournful piano compositions, dazzling spoken word, spellbinding vocal layered-songs, to beautiful instrumentals — express the intricacies of being an artist of color in a too-often indifferent world; and like the scent that lingers long after the downpour, these masterpieces ask you to sit awhile, to close your eyes, to pay attention […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 43 – Design Thinking & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Part 1

Most environments are not designed to include and value everyone because they fail to center the concerns of those in the bottom rungs of our class and caste systems. I speak with Vanessa Weathers, Founder & Principal Consultant at Conscious Employee Experiences, to further explore design thinking and its relationship to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We critique the desire to build teams based on cultural fit, and we dissect the difference between managers and leaders. Musical guest: Mallika Vie. […]

BIPOC Music Series

JINNAT: “Enlight”

This series spotlights musical artists from The Nasiona’s first compilation album, Volume 1: Petrichor. Jinnat’s track “Enlight” is featured in the volume. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 42 – The Philosopher of Authenticity: Fernando González (El filósofo de la autenticidad: Fernando González)

Given the centering of Euro and Anglo authors, thinkers, artists, etc., our education systems in the US and Canada are still forms of colonial assimilation and propaganda. In the spirit of decolonizing our education, we introduce you to Fernando González, the philosopher of authenticity. To learn more about one of Colombia’s most influential and controversial writers, we speak with Gustavo A. Restrepo Villa, executive director of Corporación Otraparte, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and amplifying Fernando González’s work. […]

Disability & Mental Health Series

Episode 41 – Intersecting Oppressions of Race, Disability, and Mental Health During COVID-19

As a Black-Filipino United Statesian man with multiple sclerosis, Joe Sparkman talks about the “Scarlet Letter” of his diagnosis, the challenges he has faced getting a job, interactions he has had with doctors, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his life and mental health. This is a candid conversation about the realities and the insidious nature of intersecting systems of oppression in the United States. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 40: Mobs, Insurrections, & the Radicalized

In the US, we’ve been radicalized to assume ourselves as great, at our detriment. Our superiority complex will be our downfall if we do not course-correct immediately. A turbulent future is here and on the horizon. The intensity of that turbulence will depend on how we prepare and act today. On today’s episode, I share an editorial I wrote following the January 6th insurrection at the US Capitol, and play an audio story that takes you through the different turbulences and warnings of the 20th century. […]

Creative Nonfiction

Episode 39 – Kwatsáan: Ancestral Land, Myths, & Reparations

Deborah Taffa, a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma Indian) Nation, shares two personal essays. In Act 1, she tells the story of a Native woman who leaves her ancestral land and lands in Missouri, where a disappearing lake and the confusion of a binational marriage force her to examine the relationship between motherhood and community. In Act 2, she speaks of a daughter’s familial connections to the land. As she leaves her mother’s hospital bed, Taffa reflects on healing and prayer, her tribal myths, and the injustice of tourism in her homeland. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 38 – In Between: Races, Languages, & Religions

“When you’re mixed-race, someone’s always telling you who you’re not.” That’s the first line from Tamara Jong’s personal essay, “In Between,” which succinctly captures the essence of what it means to be mixed-race. Tamara Jong is a Canada-born mixed-race writer and cartoonist of Chinese and European ancestry. In November of 2019, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with Tamara about her experience of being in between races, languages, and religions, and her journey to find a footing, identity, and community.  […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episodio 37: Serenidad y Paciencia

Nelson Torres comparte varias historias personales sobre sus experiencias cercanas a la muerte y como esas experiencias lo transformó y le dieron forma a su vida: un caso de identidad equivocada que casi hace que lo asesine la policía, un suspenso literal en el precipicio de una montaña mientras estaba atrapado dentro de un carro, un vuelo surrealista sobre el Triángulo de las Bermudas, y esa vez que se perdió en el Caribe después de apostarle a su hermano un equipo de sonido que podía nadar de una isla a la otra. […]

Columns

The Right Wing May Have Lit the Fire, but the Left Wing May Dig the Grave

In the US, we’ve been radicalized to assume ourselves as great, at the detriment of ourselves, our country, and the world. Our collective arrogance, self-absorption, and superiority complex will be our downfall if we do not course-correct immediately. A turbulent future is here and on the horizon. The intensity of that turbulence will depend on how we prepare and act today.  […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 36: The Sisterhood of Teatro Luna, Part 1

Teatro Luna is an ensemble of Latina/x femmes and Women of Color creating empowering theatre, media, and training for social impact. On the 18th of June, 2020, Julián Esteban Torres López spoke with three of these radical culture makers and got a glimpse into Teatro Luna’s history, evolution, values, and sisterhood: Christina Igaraividez, Alexandra Meda, and Liza Ann Acosta. Here’s the conversation. […]

Womanhood & Trauma Series

Paul Klee, "Adam and Little Eve," watercolor and transferred printing ink on paper mounted on cardboard, 1921, The Berggruen Klee Collection, 1987, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Creative Nonfiction

Berry Patch

We eleven-year-old girls sat through the film in the cafeteria and watched a movie about pads and how you could menstruate at night lying down. We all worried about the blood that might go straight […]

William Michael Harnett, "The Artist's Letter Rack," oil on canvas, 1879, Morris K. Jesup Fund, 1966, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Columns

Embracing the Subjective

As memoir writers, we must enter the dark waters of memory where facts are few and remembered events are often unstable. But the subjective experience offers its own reality and can reveal the truths that […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Francisco Gonzalez photograph on Unsplash.
Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

Softball

Robin Gow reflects on his relationship with his father when they used to play softball together. He recalls the only time he saw his father cry was watching Field of Dreams and explores how the themes of that movie apply to both of their lives. […]

Being LGBTQIAA+ Series

When Jesus Meant More Than Me

A story of a young dyke in the early 1970s, in Tampa, FL, whose mother’s religious beliefs have led to her being disowned. Making a life and new family for herself, the protagonist desperately tries to live with the monumental loss and the events endured over her sexuality. Her efforts to find peace are overshadowed with her own debilitating issues with alcoholism, drugs and mental health. Issues, resulting from a childhood lost to her mother’s madness and religiosity. The story focuses on a particular night at the local gay bar when said mother arrives unannounced and demands an audience with her child, in a last-ditch effort to save her soul. A furious, yet heartbreaking. exchange, grown from all that’s been done, occurs in the bar’s parking lot. […]

Diaspora & Immigration Series

Being Latina/o/x Series

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 15: Memoir as a Political Act

How can memoir be a political act? When living under oppressive systems, the simple act of standing up and sharing personal stories that go against the mainstream is a political act. Mireya S. Vela and Julián Esteban Torres López meditate on this issue. Vela speaks from the perspective of an author, while Torres López forwards his experience as a publisher. They both explore inequities and injustice and use memoir to challenge, expose, and defiantly try to break down systems of oppression. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Episode 18: Parenting a Mixed-Race Child

In addition to being multiracial, many mixed-race Americans are also multicultural. Naomi Raquel Enright is one such person, and she writes about her own experience with race and racism in her book, Strength of Soul. Interwoven with her own story of being born to a Jewish American father and an Ecuadorian mother in La Paz, Bolivia, Naomi also proposes her own strategies for how to fight racism and introduces readers to what it is that exacerbates systemic racism in the US. […]

Being Latina/o/x Series

Snapshot: A Hyphenated Coexistence

My grandmother from Peru remarried at 81 to Don from Dayton, Ohio. She didn’t speak English and Don doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to find their own language. Together, they created a unique American love story, far from the life she left behind in Lima. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Paul Klee, "Baum und Architektur—Rhythmen (Tree and Architecture—Rhythms)," oil on paper, 1920, Gift of Benjamin and Lillian Hertzberg, National Gallery of Art.
Being Mixed-Race Series

Jujubes Represent Sugar

Jae Langton is just like the rest of his family, especially in his love of musicals. The biggest difference is that Jae is South Korean, while everyone else is white. Jae’s parents, Shelley and David, […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

What Does It Mean to Be Mixed-Race in the US?: New Book, ‘Mixed,’ by Nicole Zelniker

The definition of families is widening, whether it’s because of mixed-race relationships, interracial adoption, or numerous other factors. Today, it is important to hear from a growing population about race, their shifting identities, and what family means to them. At the heart of the issue are the mixed-race families. Many mixed-race children have had difficulties fitting in, whether with one race or the other. In mixed-race relationships, one partner may face racism, while the other may not, or else they will experience racism in different ways. Children who have been adopted into families that identify as a race that is not theirs often find that they struggle to fit in with their families as well as with people who identify as their own race. Not only are these families navigating US American culture at large, but they also must navigate their own family structures and what it means to be mixed. […]

Sakai Hōitsu, "Blossoming Cherry Trees," pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold leaf on paper; ca. 1805. Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Gift of the Mary Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Being Mixed-Race Series

“I Guess I’m More Japanese Than You”

Nicole Zelniker’s book, Mixed, is a work of journalism about mixed-race families and their shifting identities. In this chapter from the book, Zelniker interviews Lynda Gomi, who is white, and Kazu Gomi, who is Japanese. They have lived in both the US and Japan and both believe that their cultures are a much bigger difference between them than the color of their skin. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Columns

Apart, but Together for Change

We are standing on a fault line. We’re at what can become a historic crossroad and turning point, or simply a return to the status quo … a status quo that will only continue to degrade our planet and the vast majority of its inhabitants. Our soil is ready for a new harvest. Our seeds need to be watered. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Black Books Matter

As we find ways to impact diversity and equity in publishing and writing and disrupt its “old boy” culture, one critical thing we can all do is buy and read books written by Black and other people of color. This list provides a starting point. It’s for readers searching for themselves on the page and ones who never encountered or meaningfully engaged with someone who doesn’t look like them or share their ethnic/cultural norms and values. These tomes, written by women of color, are ones that you need to read like yesterday. These books and the women who wrote them dare to push for space and give voice to the lives of Black and brown women on the page. Buy one today. […]

Deconstructing Dominant Cultures Series

Episode 28: Interrogating the Publishing Industry’s White Gaze

Lisa D. Gray, founder of Our Voices Our Stories SF, joins Julián Esteban Torres López to interrogate the white gaze of the publishing industry. They challenge its myths about Black and brown communities; call out its performative allyship; expose its diversity, equity, and inclusion problem; and hold it accountable. They also center, elevate, and amplify Black and other People of Color writers, especially women. […]

Inside Look Series

Inside Look Series

Episode 1: IM John Donaldson’s Chess World

Do the stereotypes about chess and chess players have any validity at all? Through the eyes of John Donaldson (International Master and chess writer, journalist, coach, and historian) we get a behind-the-scenes look at the most popular game of all time to see if chess really does transcend language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background. We also get some interesting anecdotes about Bobby Fischer from his biographer, as well as try to answer the following questions: Is chess a sport, art, or a science? What is the role of computers in the game? How much do privilege and belief play into improvement? How has who plays chess today changed over the decades? […]

Photograph by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash.
Inside Look Series

Literary Agents Answer Your Burning Questions, Part 1

You’ve spent months, maybe years, working tirelessly to tell your story and you’ve done it. You’ve written a book. What follows may be even harder: getting it published. It’s the word on every writer’s mind, and it can be scary, especially if you’re choosing to go the traditional route. In this three-part series, we hope to answer some of your burning questions, like What makes a literary agent tick? How do I craft a query letter? What are the best ways to utilize social media? To answer these questions, we went straight to source: literary agents. This article will give you a glimpse into the inner workings of the publishing world as experienced by literary agents. […]

BIPOC Music Series

Podcast

Inside Look Series

Episode 1: IM John Donaldson’s Chess World

Do the stereotypes about chess and chess players have any validity at all? Through the eyes of John Donaldson (International Master and chess writer, journalist, coach, and historian) we get a behind-the-scenes look at the most popular game of all time to see if chess really does transcend language, age, race, religion, politics, gender, and socioeconomic background. We also get some interesting anecdotes about Bobby Fischer from his biographer, as well as try to answer the following questions: Is chess a sport, art, or a science? What is the role of computers in the game? How much do privilege and belief play into improvement? How has who plays chess today changed over the decades? […]

Ep. 2: Mireya S. Vela's Vestiges of Courage
Interviews

Episode 2: Mireya S. Vela’s Vestiges of Courage

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? Mireya S. Vela is that woman. In this long-form interview, we discuss her art, creative nonfiction, social justice, motherhood, womanhood, being marginalized in the United States, and her new book, Vestiges of Courage: Collected Essays, which we, The Nasiona, are happy to be publishing in April of 2019.Vestiges of Courage is a collection of personal essays that explores inequities and injustice. Raised between two cultures and two languages, Vela discusses how the systems in her family and in society worked to create an abusive environment that felt crushing, confusing, and hopeless. She delineates her experience of living through sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. This book is much more than a collection of experiences, though. Ms. Vela wants to know how and why abuse thrived in her family. She digs deep to understand why these things happened and how she survived. […]

Being Mixed-Race Series

Episode 3: Mixed-Race Families

Journalist Nicole Zelniker, author of Mixed, takes us on personal journeys to help us glimpse into overlooked worlds so we can more fully grasp what it means to be mixed. Zelniker spoke to dozens of mixed-race families and individuals, as well as experts in the field, about their own experiences, with the hope to fill a gap in the very important conversation about race in the US today. […]

Nasiona Books

  • Mixed, by Nicole Zelniker

    Mixed, by Nicole Zelniker

    The definition of families is widening, whether it’s because of mixed-race relationships, interracial adoption, or numerous other factors. Today, it is important to hear from a growing population about race, their shifting identities, and what family means to them. At the heart of the issue are the mixed-race families. Many mixed-race children have had difficulties fitting in, whether with one race or the other. In mixed-race relationships, one partner may face racism, while the other may not, or else they will experience racism in different ways. Children who have been adopted into families that identify as a race that is not theirs often find that they struggle to fit in with their families as well as with people who identify as their own race. Not only are these families navigating US American culture at large, but they also must navigate their own family structures and what it means to be mixed. [...]
  • PLACES & NAMES: Poems, by Carl Boon

    PLACES & NAMES: Poems, by Carl Boon

    The poems in Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy that is greater than either fact or imagination. It is this sense of intimacy that brings the poems to life. We encounter real places sometimes—places we see on maps and highway signs—but also places that exist only in the imagination. We encounter names that are both recognizable and almost—or barely—remembered at all: Robert E. Lee next to one of a thousand men named Jackson who went to fight in Vietnam; Jorge Luis Borges next to an unknown boy from Clarita, Oklahoma, who himself would become a poet someday; a man who wishes he were Rocky Marciano hammering the heavy bag in Northeast Ohio, hungry for more than beans or soup. And suddenly it becomes clear how intimately connected in this collection these places and names are as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh; and a strange, sleepy place called Pomegranate Town where someone’s infant dozes in the back of a car on a seaside highway. The people who inhabit these places seem, in a sense, to become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition. [...]
  • HUSBAND FATHER FAILURE: Poems, by KG Newman

    HUSBAND FATHER FAILURE: Poems, by KG Newman

    In Husband Father Failure, KG Newman explores love as metered sacrifice. In the tinted mirror of self-reflection, marriage and commitment are gauged on leverage and endurance while fatherhood — and a morphing understanding of it — is an equalizer, the bond that humbles and keeps him hanging on. From the kitchen to the front yard, from the mountainside to worn sandlots across suburbia — from a gift of life to a plea of guilt — Newman reminds the reader of the fragility of emotion, the irreversible risk of love, and of the perils and rewards of investing in the modern American family. [...]
  • Vestiges of Courage: Collected Essays, by Mireya S. Vela

    Vestiges of Courage: Collected Essays, by Mireya S. Vela

    Vestiges of Courage is a collection of personal essays that explores inequities and injustice. Raised between two cultures and two languages, Mireya S. Vela discusses how the systems in her family and in society worked to create an abusive environment that felt crushing, confusing, and hopeless. In her book, Ms. Vela delineates her experience of living through sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. This book is much more than a collection of experiences, though. Ms. Vela wants to know how and why abuse thrived in her family. She digs deep to understand why these things happened and how she survived. [...]
  • Eat The Eight: Preventing Food Allergy with Food and the Imperfect Art of Medicine, by Ron Sunog, MD

    Eat The Eight: Preventing Food Allergy with Food and the Imperfect Art of Medicine, by Ron Sunog, MD

    In 2015, after a landmark medical study proved that the early inclusion of peanut in the diet of infants prevents peanut allergy, Ron Sunog, MD, set out to develop a great first peanut food for infants. When most physicians and parents did not embrace this important new information, Dr. Sunog was determined to understand why. Eat The Eight examines how difficult it is to acquire and understand good medical evidence, the complex web of reason and emotion through which people filter medical information, and the imperative to thoughtfully temper the science of medicine with the art of medicine. Parents will learn how a healthful diet can be key to reducing their infant’s risk of developing food allergy. [...]
  • Reporting on Colombia: Essays on Colombia’s History, Culture, Peoples, and Armed Conflict, by Julián Esteban Torres López

    Reporting on Colombia: Essays on Colombia’s History, Culture, Peoples, and Armed Conflict, by Julián Esteban Torres López

    Prolonged war has drained Colombia of its most essential natural and human resources and has created an aggressive and vengeful environment of resentment and resistance. Though the second oldest democracy in the hemisphere, an effective modern nation-state has never existed. Its 200+ years of so-called democracy have been a farce given Colombia’s feudalist innards and fascist corporatism exoskeleton. Further, the continuing armed conflict is exacerbated by the country’s historical lack of hegemony, institutionalized and systemic violence, corruption, socio-political exclusion, lack of social mobility opportunities, and foreign intervention. We must curb the traditional might-makes-right conflict resolution method and the state must gain true legitimacy if Colombians are ever to manifest their potential. Julián Esteban Torres López machetes through the tall weeds of Colombia’s power vacuum and fragmented sovereignty, peels the layers of the country’s flirtation with modernity and class consciousness, dissects the insecurity of Colombia’s security policies, and looks to understand who and what stand in the way of Colombia becoming the El Dorado it could become. [...]
  • Marx's Humanism and Its Limits: Why Marx Believed We Should Achieve Socialism and Communism Nonviolently, by Julián Esteban Torres López

    Marx's Humanism and Its Limits: Why Marx Believed We Should Achieve Socialism and Communism Nonviolently, by Julián Esteban Torres López

    In this long-form essay, Julián Esteban Torres López dissects Karl Marx’s writings to make explicit a Marxian Humanitarian Theory. Torres López surveys and analyzes Marx’s work on violence, revolution, and the treatment of human life, and concludes that not only did Marx see the possibility that socialism and communism could be achieved by peaceful means, but that it should be done so. Torres López challenges the mainstream notion that Marxism has always been a war-machine that leads to tyrannical, authoritarian, and anti-democratic regimes. Instead, Torres López argues that actualizing human potential, while still treating the individual as an end, was the goal Marx endorsed. As Marx got older, he became more moderate in his justifications of violence, and he more intensely adopted the view that humans deserve to be afforded dignity and treated as ends. However, though Marx hoped the road to socialism and communism would not be stained with blood, in most places in the world, he believed, violence used as self-defense would be the lever of revolutions. Nevertheless, though the end may justify force under specific circumstances, much hinges on the uncertainty of the realization of those very ends. [...]