What the Emerald Means To Me: Illumination

by Jasmine J. Mahmoud

(In support of the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary fundraiser we asked community members to share about what the Emerald means to them.)

What the Emerald means to me: illumination. Earlier this year, I grew mesmerized by a series of digital illustrations in the South Seattle Emerald. Bright yellows, greens, pinks, blues, and purples illuminated portraits of Chief Seattle Club’s Colleen Echohawk, writer Ijeoma Oluo, community educator and politician Kirsten Harris-Talley, chef Kristi Brown, organizer and activist Nikkita Oliver, and judge Raquel-Montoya Lewis. Part of Larissa McCartney’s “Rad Pacific Northwest Women and Femmes” series, these illustrations filled me with joy as I thought about the work and impact of these dynamic women and femmes, and the care, artistry, and imagination of McCartney’s representations. 

What the Emerald means to me: telling our stories. This publication pulses with necessary reporting of our communities, which are often so misrepresented in other press sources. Last summer, the Emerald’s coverage of protests in Seattle was bar none; as I constantly read coverage, I engaged with voices from those on the front lines as well as sharp reporting about ongoing police abuse. I felt relief and gratitude at the ways in which the protesters — and their causes of racial justice — were framed with humanity and care.

What the Emerald means to me: centering the vital pulse of arts. It is where I viewed Susan Fried’s amazing photo essays about our region including one about the artists of the Black Lives Matter mural and Franklin High School’s Art of Resistance & Resilience Club. It is where I first read Vivian Hua’s interview with painter barry johnson. It is where I continually read amazing reviews of BIPOC art by writers including Beverly Arons, Chamidae Ford, and Rayna Mathis, that do the necessary work of archiving exhibitions and artworks in our region. It is where I get lost in Brett Hamil’s “Sunday Comix.” 

What the Emerald means to me: nurturing writers. This publication has deeply nurtured me as a writer who centers BIPOC artists including Monyee Chau, Aramis Hamer, Elisheba Johnson, Hanako O’Leary, Shin Yu Pai, Tariqa Waters, Matika Wilbur, among others. I deeply love reading writers in the Emerald including Maggie Mertens, Lola Peters, and Jasmine M. Pulido.

What the Emerald means to me: Marcus Harrison Green. This brilliant, kind, visionary Black founder of the South Seattle Emerald has brought us all together to read, write, narrate, listen, and imagine. I am thankful for his leadership and journalism. 

Illuminating, narrative, vital, nurturing, resonant, imaginative, lively, grounding, and of community — this is what the South Seattle Emerald means to me. 

Jasmine Jamillah Mahmoud is an arts writer, curator, and assistant professor in Performing Arts & Arts Leadership at Seattle University. She lives on the border of Westwood, South Delridge, and White Center in (south) West Seattle.

Featured illustration by Jiéyì 杰意 Ludden.

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