I’m Zahira Kelly, a mami, writer, artist, mujerista, award-winning sociocultural critic, and speaker. Born in NYC and raised between Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and the Bronx, by my mother and auntie who are both creative renaissance women.
I write what many call a very candid advice column at TheNewInquiry.com and am creator and author of Bad-Dominicana, an AfroLatina feminist blog and twitter with a large, constantly growing following comprised of everyone from editors of major publications and scholars to teenage girls. I have been featured in a number of publications such as The New York Times, Latina, Complex, Vibe, Cosmopolitan, Time, BBC, and many more for my sociocultural analysis. In my writing, dynamic use of social media, and at speaking events I employ Indigenous style storytelling, no holds barred analysis of abuse culture, colonialism, social power dynamics and critique of media and pop culture. I aim to pick apart white supremacist capitalist hetero-patriarchy from an anticolonial AfroLatina perspective.
With gratitude, I have accepted an ‘¡ahora! award’ for my commitment to organizing and demonstrating the necessity for ethnic studies as a praxis for a better future en la comunidad, from Northwestern University’s Alianza and Latina and Latino Studies Program in May 2016. And an #afrolatinaswhorock award for being an afrolatina revolutionizing the world around me from aintilatina.com in October 2015.
My visual art is dedicated to highlighting AfroLatina and Women of Colors beauty and very much tied to my writing. It has been exhibited at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, among other galleries and publications. I traverse many mediums: watercolor, photography, pencil illustration, oils, acrylics, animation, digital painting and often mix them together. In my images I reexamine my bicultural upbringing, Indigenous displacement and neocolonial marginalized womanhood as well as concepts of fragility historically denied to lower class women of Afro-Descent. In my retro pinup inspired art I materialize women rendered invisible by an era and society that only prized middle to upper class white womanhood and beauty as a paragon of femininity.