PRIM: A PLATFORM FOR STORYTELLING
Interview with K Bailey Obazee
JUNE 8TH 2020
Photo's of K taken by Bernice Mulenga
PRIM is the black, queer and inclusive platform for storytelling, giving a voice to those who need to be heard and creating a space when one wasn’t before. Founder, K Bailey Obazee, joined us for an exclusive interview to discuss the importance of having black owned queer spaces and the opportunity to share your voice through a safe inclusive platform, surrounded by your community.
“It’s finally here. For a long time we have been trying to provide a space where we can speak with passion about the humans of this world who boldly speak on our existence in sometimes sombre tones or with humour or rage. It’s poetic and rhythmic, it’s often the story you really needed. They have inspired, and they continue to inform much that shapes our daily lives - our writers, poets, novelists you name it. The pen to paper and finger to keyboard is everything we breathe it’s the story of us. So join us for the first of many - OKHA, the queer + black book club.
Queer - because we queer, gay, fluid, lesbionic...all of them. And there is a plethora of book clubs that are not specifically designed with queer people in mind"
Firstly, and most importantly, how are you doing during these times in regard to not only the pandemic, but also with the Black Lives Matter movement?
Erm well to be honest I’m coping in the way that has become a standard for most black people I think - focusing on positives such as chosen fam to keep me able to move through it. However, everything feels really heavy and finding any positive is very difficult. It’s proper d raining mentally and physically but most of all I just feel really sad. When you deep it, someone decided that we are ‘lesser than’ one day and scores of people believed it and still believe it centuries later. In terms of coping, my chosen fam have literally become my beating heart. We are all going through it individually but the levels to kindness and care over the last few months is just like nothing I’ve experienced before. It genuinely gets me through, because isolation is tough. I’m very sociable as well, and all I wanna do is hang with ma homies in the club.
What is keeping you feeling positive and happy right now?
I am drinking lots of chlorophyll water. I have become besties with my skin and now she is glowwwinggg. And I have been having stretch sessions with my pals in the hope of being able to do the splits. I doubt imma be able to do said splits this year but stretching feels really good most times and I know I’m doing my body good in the long run. I’ve also been listening to podcast upon podcast and creating playlists constantly with music representing my feels/needs. The most recent playlist is Soul Enhancement which is made up of South African Jazz and Blues, Nigerian Hi-Life, Afro-Brazilian artists, and more!
I’m deep in my skincare bag right now too! (laughs) Was it important for you to start PRIM and what’s the best aspect of having your platform?
Firstly, PRIM is about building a community. The best part of the black community and of my queer black community especially is sharing stories. Talking about our ancestry, what we know of home, what those who we call family is like, and understanding and navigating pain and feeling safe and literally sharing everything that comes with being black is like a healing. We gain so much from it. I really wanted to make sure we were building a community in more varied ways. I love clubbing, it’s honestly for me something I don’t think I can ever not do, I need the duff duff sometimes lol. But I noticed that there are a number of my queer black fam who clubbing is not for them and they would still love to make those connections that are often generated in dance/music focused settings. Secondly, it’s about learning and un-learning but for us and by us. Through sharing our stories, we see new ways of doing things. We can resonate with our peers over similar experiences. We can enjoy and hold space for each other. We can find new authors, new pieces of writing, or learn of new creative artists all of whom are of black ancestry. And finally, to have stories by us we can access all the time, in the varying mediums that we tell them, it’s not just about written content. Stories told visually and orally are just as important and more engaging for some of us.
It is so important to have and be supportive of black owned business, now more than ever, what are a few of your own favourite black owned businesses that inspire you?
I like buying and paying into unique things I think and anything that serves a greater purpose for the black community. Key ones for me are BBZ, a collective I am part of which has genuinely changed my life. I also love Suhaiyla Shukwra a jewelry maker and tarot reader, and honestly the kindest most warm-hearted person. Another fave is artists such as Joy Yamusangie, Sola Olulode and Blk Moody Boi I’m just always in awe of the talent of people who draw and create in this way, buying or receiving from them just makes the house look buff and it’s great to have 1 of kind things.
Looking at the creative industry you are a part of, as a whole, how do you want it to change, not only within your city but on a global scale?
Just do better. You know how to improve so enough of the bullshit. If there’s anything this pandemic has shown it’s that when shit gets really real people strategize and create a plan of action. If your company is full of white people only in lead positions but most of the art and culture you promote and benefit from is black, your basically doing slavery 2.0. Stop it. Be real and be true. If you’re not tryna have an internal culture that matches your outward energy, then actually please just liquidate the brand and leave the industry.
I feel you, what do you think could be done more for black owned businesses/publications/influencers etc?
Enough of buzz words. Drop millions into the accounts of queers, trans black people regularly. Pay people using NET 14-day payment terms as a standard practice as every black business is small and waiting 30 + days and often actually MONTHS for your money is infuriating. Stop asking us questions for free because even 1 word should equate to you dropping pounds. Think about what genuine support looks like, you’re smart people so stop acting silly.
Preach. What is your opinion on big brands and their inclusivity and/or lack of contribution to the BLM movement?
They’re actually shameless. Everyone should know about your willingness to further racial biases and injustice towards black people and when outside opens your business should no longer exist. End of story. Because if you’re not committing genuinely to improve on this then you’ve chosen to maintain oppression rather than put in the work required to undo what white people intentionally designed.
As someone who started their own incredible platform, what advice would you give to others who may be reading that are thinking of starting their own?
For me, everything is about commitment. If you care about something and want to do it, then be consistent. Whether it’s every month or every other month give your time and energy to it and it will build, you will build. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but also don’t lose momentum if people don’t have the capacity to help you, try to come from a place of understanding and get plotting on how else you can reach your aims. Also, if you need help, holla at me I’m happy to help or to give useful pointers, links, connections etc.
Looking back at all you have achieved with PRIM, what’s your biggest accomplishment you are most proud of and where do you see the future of PRIM heading?
So far securing funding from Arts Council England. That was a real win and has meant we can truly do what we want to do and pay our community for their work. We hate to ask people to do anything for free, especially our fam and knowing that we don’t have to do that feels really incredible. Other than this, having people come to OKHA our queer and book club is honestly just a moment we always cherish. The love in the room consumes you and this is what I see in the future, a space where all black people can feel completely comfortable, happy and able to be themselves in full!