ong before the pandemic began, the co-founders of Color Bloq decided that we wanted our final collection of the year to be WORLDBUILDING. With an historic election and intensifying political unrest on our minds, we knew how easy it could be to lose sight of possibility. As multiply-marginalized folks navigating a treacherous cultural landscape, too many of us are familiar with delaying dreams for the sake of getting by for survival. It can happen so subtly. But the blows against our collective imagination have been precise and dogged nonetheless. I mean, there’s very little time and energy to imagine what’s next when what’s now is blocking the view from every angle.

Evenso, this collection was always intended to be a dedicated home for expansive dreaming. From the minds and hearts of every contributor to every reader that connected with their work, we have together created a foundation that speaks to what it is we want and need the practice of worldbuilding to be:

Worldbuilding is the deepest, broadest, brightest and darkest stretching of the imagination.
Worldbuilding is both our greatest challenge and the greatest gift to our future selves.
Worldbuilding is our sacred charge.

Worldbuilding as a practice can take almost any form, holding space for everything and nothing if we allow it. As we approach the final days of this year bathed in the light of winter sun and under the influence of a full moon, I hope that each and every person that reads this is surrounded in the warmth of spirit that gently affirms: You are. You dream. You dare. You do. And that is enough.

Closing out the year, our newly expanded Color Bloq crew leaves you with a few thoughts on what this sacred practice means to us, and why we are ending 2020 and beginning 2021 with the energy of imagining (and creating!) a future where thriving is within reach for us all. With four years behind us, and almost two operating within this visionary framework, we are deepening our commitment to community and to sustaining a home for QTBIPOC creatives. Color Bloq is growing. And because of you, we are still here — not only imagining the generative possibilities of QTBIPOC life, but we’re creating an archive of our very own to share, learn, practice, connect, and so much more. Because of your continued support, we will be able to continue our shared journey in worldbuilding.

Thank you for sticking with us, for supporting what we are building, and for believing in the power of queer and trans BIPOC stories. In the meantime, here’s a little bit of our joy to take you into the new year…

Niq Johnson

Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Nic Perales, Co-Founder & Community Director

I believe that whether we are conscious of it or not, worldbuilding is deeply rooted within us. From dreams to our daily actions, it all can relate to building a better future. We’ve had generations of QTBIPOC fighting for equity, a legacy of uncredited warriors. We were born to be great and thanks to our ancestors and elders who have paved the way thus far, we are able to dream and build a world that we can safely exist in our truth.

When this theme was first brought to our drafting table, I remember seeing the light in my fellow co-founder’s eyes – illuminated by excitement and joy. We’ve heard so many conversations of building a better tomorrow, but out of all the conversations captured by mainstream media, we couldn’t recall a community discussion or town hall that actually involved folx from the QTBIPOC community. This collection has indeed provided that space and the response has shown that folx agree that our voices need to be heard.

The brilliance of this WORLDBUILDING collection is that there is no one grand solution and that the tools to build have actually been within us all along. I see Color Bloq as one of the most influential worldbuilding spaces because everything we have built has a specific intention. We wanted to create a space that centers and respects every QTBIPOC voice. A space that feels safe for us to interact and feel seen. We wanted to create something that we wish we had growing up. We wanted a platform where QTBIPOC writers weren’t forced to continuously relive the violence against us. As we say here at Color Bloq, “We are more than our trauma. We dare to joy.”

So I sit here and I lift my glass to you all. In order to build, we must first reflect, breathe, dream, and gather – and that is indeed what we did in this collection and in this year. Thank you for supporting Color Bloq, our QTBIPOC creatives, and our beautiful and brilliant community. Please stay safe and remember that community can always be found here.

Sean-Paul Rocero, Co-Founder & Design Director

This collection has been an important one for me because the themes of self-care and self-actualizing were so present. The process of publishing this collection and really sitting in the themes, daily, forced me to ask myself: What do I want? What am I working towards? How am I giving my body and headspace to the things that are important to me and will help me grow and flourish? This collection was challenging because sometimes I'd deeply feel something a writer was expressing that I thought was beautiful and that I agreed with as a tool for WORLDBUILDING, but then realize that I wasn't living those values in my day to day.

Ultimately, that is the Color Bloq experience for me though. I learn so much from my community with every story, essay, and poem. And each collection provides new guideposts into parts of myself that I didn't even realize needed exploring. That is invaluable for me as a queer person: finding my true self by unlearning harmful frameworks, and each time feeling less lonely by realizing there are many who have already done that work before me. I uncover more layers of myself with each collection and that is why WORLDBUILDING in particular was so significant. Each collection so far has gently unearthed new areas of my relearning but WORLDBUILDING asked me directly: who are you in this world that we're building together as a community?

I'm so honored and proud to be a part of the team. This collection capped off the year so beautifully and underscored why Color Bloq is my answer to how we might imagine worlds of justice and joy: through our own stories of us.

Dana Nowlin-Russell, Assistant Editor (WORLDBUILDING)

I think of this Worldbuilding collection as gathering set armor pieces in a roleplaying game (RPG). When a gamer starts a new character in an RPG, they are forced to quest through several levels wearing the most mix-matched, disjointed armor. Light, cloth shoulders with heavy-metal boots. A common, two-handed mace that boosts stamina when they really need a staff for magic. Nothing fits or moves as it should. And yet, the player makes sangria out of the worst wine by creatively using found pieces for protection and crawling through spider dungeons and skill trees. All while encumbered by trash and full inventories. However, with time, the quest rewards get richer, and it becomes possible to gather gear that reveals the user's intended class and character.

This "leveling" is what I felt while working through this collection--writers (and readers) grinding through upsets and unknowns. Making sense of my Life and identity has meant hours of figuring out what doesn't work and how to forgive and rebuild the pieces that fell apart. I was not surprised by the talent in this collection; however, I was taken aback by how these works influenced my creative and reflective practices. When I think I'm tripping through Life alone, I'm not. The friends accumulated through the years? Intentional. And I have sought opportunities and supported spaces (like Color Bloq) where people like me — like us — can feel invited and understood.

Engaging with the writers' stories reminded me that while I may not have a full set of raid-level (i.e., epic or legendary) gear, I've curated enough matching armor that I feel like the black mage I'm supposed to be, questing with others, fighting creatures and injustices, making sense of this world.

Chief Esparza, Co-Founder & Executive Director

If memory serves, we had been talking about a “futures” collection since 2019. And placing this idea in contrast to the general election in the US was intentional. For all of the possibilities about the power of electoral politics to create change, those conversations often lack the imagination and innovation that our communities need; there is so much more to creating change than what we see in the headlines every four years.

As a Star Wars fan I returned to this in the leadup to WORLDBUILDING so many times: if marginalization and oppression are the Death Star, and you say you want to take down the Death Star, have you considered what happens after that? It’s a thought exercise, but it helps us fix our aims — what does it take to really think about what happens on the other side of these long-sought, hard-fought endings?

This is why WORLDBUILDING is so critical, I think, to the work that Color Bloq is doing. This is for us. And these narratives and concepts we are highlighting in this collection tell that story of WORLDBUILDING that really is inspired by our experiences rather than responding to and centering a world not made for us.

In another sense, this collection doesn’t do much to lean into trauma and activating emotions in ways that so many media outlets and editors do to gain clicks and engagement. This isn’t doom scrolling. Instead, WORLDBUILDING invites us to stop, pause, breathe, and dream. I think we deserve that.

It goes without saying that there is immense value to the work that is done to process and explain the headlines, to directly address systemic inequity through writing and creation, to amplify the harm reduction principles underlying so much work of civic engagement. And there is also power in what Color Bloq does to elevate the concepts that are made for us, in ways that speak to us. WORLDBUILDING imagines that time and space that happens when the stories are all about us — the stories of us.