“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.”
(Or at least how Shanille recalls it...)
Brown Sugar began with an off-hand comment—Ashley belted, “Let’s start a literary magazine!” after expressing her disappointment with the lack of diversity in the publishing industry. The comment led to an uber ride between friends as we discussed what we’d want from the magazine and what our aesthetic would be. We talked for hours about our name, our colors, our dream for the magazine. After weeks of planning and stressing about all the logistics of starting a literary magazine, we finally launched in June of 2020.
Before Brown Sugar, we were just friends with a shared love for writing and the literary world. I (Shanille) met Imani my freshman year of college at SUNY at Purchase College. Little did we know that Ashley was also a student at Purchase, but our paths never crossed.
It was the summer of 2019, the semester before Imani and I would graduate, that we met Ashley while working at a writing summer camp. We were instant friends, as Ashley and other counselors took Imani and I under their wings.
A year later, we’re here, hoping to make even a small change in the publishing world by highlighting the voices of women of color, all women of color. We understand the silencing, the marginalization, the missed opportunities. We understand the experience.
Thank you for coming on this journey with us.
Currently, our magazine is running on voluntary action. We ask of anyone who supports our mission to donate, so we can upkeep our magazine and provide printed copies of our current and future issues. If you’d like to donate to our magazine, the link to our GoFundme is here------------>
Meet The Current Team
Shanille Martin is a Black writer based in Brooklyn, NY, but born on the beautiful island of Jamaica. She received her BA in Creative Writing and Psychology from Purchase College. After graduating, she worked as an Assistant Creative Writing Instructor at Writopia Lab, and is currently a Program Coordinator and head Creative Writing Instructor. She is a current Girls Write Now mentor and has worked with a variety of amazing teens.
Shanille is also featured in various magazines and publications such as Italics Mine, Gandy Dancer, News Week, et al, and also written and edited for Radish Media.
Shanille is seeking out memoirs, personal essays, comics, and erotica works that explore sexuality, the mind, the self, and the human connection. Ultimately, she wants personal and intimate stories that capture the experiences of women of color.
Founding Editor, Director of Publicity
Ashley Imanë (ee-mahn-ee) is a Caribbean-American writer from Brooklyn, New York, and currently an Assistant Editor at Disney Publishing Worldwide.
During her time at Purchase College at SUNY (and during her descent into the world of Fanfiction and Wattpad), Ashley was a Poetry Editor for Italics Mine Literary Magazine, a Children’s Managing Editorial/Production Intern at Simon & Schuster, and a Writing Instructor's Assistant at Writopia Lab. In 2019, after earning her B.A. in Creative Writing, she began her pursuit of a career in trade publishing. She took up internships with Maria Carvainis Agency and DeFiore and Company, both literary agencies she is grateful to have received mentorship from.
Ashley loves to read Young Adult, New Adult, and Women’s genre fiction. Specifically, she loves all types of romance, paranormal, fantasy, suspense, and/or fiction that delves into deep themes such as grief, loss, identity, struggle, and other sensitive topics in current events and today's political climate that are overlooked within the black community.
Ashley Imanë Fields
Founding Editor, Managing Editor
Kiana Livingston is a poetess, playwright, screenwriter, actress, and activist based in Washington, DC. After graduating from Purchase College at SUNY with her B.A.'s in Creative Writing and Playwriting & Screenwriting, she works incessantly to develop her surrealist narrative voice. After founding the art collective USAF (Us As Fuck), she focused her work towards fighting social justice issues faced by people of color through fantasy. A true child at heart, it is through strange and imaginative worlds that she is able to understand and dissect the world around her.
Kiana currently serves as the Narrative Director for the emerging immersive theater company, Silver Dream Productions, which focuses on exploring the societal issues in our own reality through entering an alternate cyber-verse.
If you’ve got any plays or fantasy suggestions of any medium, send it her way. You also can’t go wrong with a good murder or white collar crime podcast.
Dominic Pierre is a Black writer and editor based in New York City. He received his BA in English from Green Mountain College. Dominic was a contributing editor for The Reverie and The Mountaineer while also serving as a staff writer for Slickster Magazine.
Dominic’s work has appeared in several magazines such as NPR: All Things Considered, CP Quarterly, Near Window Magazine, Winnow Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine, as well as, Revolukin. His interests are in the human experience and reflection.
Contributing Zine Editor
Luisa Maria Calcano is a first-generation Dominican-American. She received her AA in Sociology at Purchase College. During her time at Purchase, she accrued experience in social media marketing, working with groups like Latinx Unidos and Casa Purchase Outreach Center—highlighting underrepresented groups and organizations within Westchester county doing marvelous work helping communities in need.
In her free time, her hobbies are artistic; mostly inking, but she dabbles with making collages, and acrylic paint. Her most recent endeavor has been teaching herself how to tattoo.
Luisa Maria Calcano
Social Media / Marketing Coordinator
Joelle François is a Christian, Haitian-American writer, filmmaker, dancer, violinist, and overall creative born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is a recent graduate from LaGuardia High School, where she majored in dance and is currently attending Howard University, pursuing Television and Film.
Joelle is a Gold Key and Honorable Mention winner for poetry in the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She is a member of the Howard University Orchestra, and she enjoys composing songs on her own time. In addition to her love for music, Joelle enjoys writing poetry and creating short films and hopes to direct and produce works professionally after graduating. She strives to integrate her love of God in all her work and hopes to connect with other faith-based creatives.