Communication freshman Asha Yearwood publishes magazine supporting racial justice

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Courtesy of Asha Yearwood

The cover of From the Homies with Love, a literary magazine published by Asha Yearwood. The School of Communication freshman has been working on this project since last summer.

Alexa Crowder, Reporter

Last summer, Communication freshman Asha Yearwood’s Instagram direct messages were flooded with drawings, photographs, creative writing and Notes app poetry. She has since used that content in “From the Homies with Love,” an interactive literary magazine supporting multiple racial justice organizations.

Yearwood was inspired to start the project during protests in response to George Floyd’s death. In the following months, she worked with The Garage at Northwestern to edit and publish the final 100-page magazine, complete with QR codes linking to additional content.

“This issue of racial injustice and inequality is bigger than just me,” Yearwood said. “I was thinking about ways to use creative energy to enact positive change in a way that felt really authentic to me.”

For Yearwood, that positive change meant compiling her community’s art into a larger work that not only encourages readers to think more about racial justice, but also provides financial support to community organizers. Each copy of the magazine costs $25.

The profits from the sale of “From the Homies with Love” will be split between the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Transgender Law Center and the Okra Project. She made sure to look for groups that specifically support the Black transgender community, who she said are often overlooked by racial justice organizations.

“My friends and I did a whole bunch of research on organizations we felt help the betterment of all Black people,” Yearwood said.

Once she collected all the content, Yearwood organized “From the Homies With Love” into a magazine format. She worked to compile the magazine throughout Fall Quarter, often staying awake until 5 a.m. to rearrange page spreads. After struggling to learn Adobe InDesign, she opted to complete the bulk of the work with Blurb, a photo book editing service.

Once the magazine was finished, Yearwood hit a wall. Looking for ways to raise enough funds to publish, she applied to The Garage’s new Activate program, an eight-week experience for Black undergraduates with an entrepreneurial project idea. Through the program, she received a $1000 grant, one-on-one mentorship and a cohort for weekly check-ins.

Founding Executive Director of The Garage Melissa Kaufman, said Activate was founded in response to the underrepresentation of Black people in entrepreneurship, both at Northwestern and in the larger industry.

“We wanted to help not only increase the number of Black students participating in The Garage, but also to expose more young Black people to the idea of entrepreneurship as a potential career path,” Kaufman said.

Yearwood’s project was already well beyond its infancy when the Activate program began in January, so she spent most of the eight weeks focusing on the details of publication and printing. Her mentor, Research Assistant Kwabena Yamoah (Graduate School ‘21) guided her through the steps between making a concept into a tangible product.

“Asha made it extremely easy,” Yamoah said. “She is a person who desires to go for what she believes in. It speaks to her character, her development and her internal values.”

Now that the first edition of “From the Homies with Love” is available for purchase, Yearwood’s next goal is for the magazine to be picked up by a publishing company. She hopes that support from a big publisher would help her to reach a wider audience.

When Yearwood received the first hard copy of her magazine, she FaceTimed her mom. She flipped through the pages, showing off her and her friends’ work through the screen. Throughout the entire process, Yearwood said she loved the opportunity to work with her peers and was happy to be able to showcase their work.

“I am so grateful to have such creative and talented friends,” she said. “If it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t even be happening.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AlexaCrowder

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