A year in review

It’s hard to say, really, if a year has been worse than others. Objectively, 2016 was terrible, but it’s less clear with 2017. On the one hand we all got better acquainted with 45’s Twitter fingers, but on the other we saw people take a stand all around the world against hatred and oppression. U.S. states that were red have gone blue, citizens have a language for protest, and when women came out in numbers to name their abusers they were believed. We’re in the middle of a great moral reckoning that’s shaking the grounds of major industries and even our government. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t all bad.

That’s not to say that 2018 will not have to answer for the sins of 2017 (slavery in Libya, ripping healthcare from the mouths of babes, wanton anti-immigration violence, a deadlier mass shootings, and on and on), but that there is some hope among the rubble that is this year.

And here at Kajal we’ve been able to turn this year’s traumas into poetry (and essays, and articles). Consider us the new punk rockers. Here are some of our biggest hits of 2017:

Master of What?

Coming out swinging, Nadya made it clear in her essay “Why Don’t Brown Women Deserve Love Onscreen?” that the recent crop of diaspora movies and tv shows had a long way to go before they could be considered progressive for South Asian representation. You guys really loved this piece. Like, a lot.

Rhapsody in Blue

As part of our Sexual Azaadi series, featuring custom art by Opashona Ghosh, Nisha goes into what exactly it is to grapple with your lovability in her piece “On Sexuality and Being a Lonely Brown Girl.” The writing and visuals of the whole series honor each other; there’s not a sex series on the internet quite like this.

Well, What Do the Stars Have to Say About It?

This year, we started our horoscope series written by our in-house star-gazer Jasleena. Ayqa Khan made illustrations for each sign, celebrating all that is mundane and hairy. We also periodically featured gifs of Bollywood glamazons as well as emerging and established South Asian artists.

Repackaged Racism

They may be casting a mostly brown  production of Disney’s classic animated film Aladdin but they’re still reusing tired stereotypes about South Asian and SWANA people. So, kinda progress? I guess? Fatima lays it all out in her piece “New Aladdin, Same Racism.”

And the Brown Folks Danced

This year we had to say goodbye to Basement Bhangra, a fixture in New York’s music and nightlife scene for two decades. And it went out with a bang.

Today, in Sri Lanka

We may be witnessing major progress happening in the space of LGBTQ rights around the world, but that doesn’t mean all change is uniform. In Sri Lanka, many queer and trans people are still on the receiving end of systemic violence and oppression. Tara spoke with LGBTQ activist Rosanna Flamer-Caldera about the work that needs to be done in Sri Lanka.

There Are More Stories

We remember Partition as a bloody migration across the Punjab, into Pakistan and India from either side. We don’t often think about the way the violence rippled out to other parts of the Subcontinent. Nooreen explores her own family history in Hyderabad in 1948, the year after the one we remember.

Trauma to Tea

In another essay about Partition 70 years on, Nadya looks closely at the twin horrors of Partition and Charlottesville. Rarely do we interrogate trauma and learn from it. With the example of how Partition has been dealt with in the years since it occurred, we should be more willing to look closely at our history and unpack it.


As the Weinstein allegations snowballed into a global movement wherein people of all genders made public the harassment and sexual abuse they’ve experienced, Tara Kenny looks at her own experiences with workplace sexual harassment.

Challenging History

Nooreen spoke with MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Sunil Amrith about his work documenting global migration patterns from the Indian Subcontinent. They discussed the next moves he has planned to share his work, the effect of climate change on migration, and more.

It has been a wonderful year with excellent stories. Here’s to 2018, when we do it all again!