Francesca Cozier – Women of Colour are Forced to be Political

Francesca Cozier is a BA photography graduate, who uses her creativity to focus on issues which affect millennial women. Her short documentaries are packed with pop culture references and political messages giving the viewer a direct insight into her thoughts and feelings about being millennial women of colour (WOC) in today’s society.

Hansika Jethnani

Francesca Cozier (left) with friend Anjali Bakshi. Image credits Hansika Jethnani

What was your most memorable moment throughout your education

The day my tutorial group had a frank discussion about the issues facing millennial women and what it meant to be a millennial.

What was discussed?

Mainly our perceptions of society and the new social customs followed by millennials. The discussion turned to how we as a generation are more likely to speak out about issues involving gender and feminism. Like dating etiquette and how it’s been affected by feminism and the patriarchy (who pays on a first date? If the guy pays does that make you a bad feminist?)

What things affect you as a millennial women?

Everything, as a millennial woman you are put under a microscope, nothing you do is right and you will always be at fault for something. Being in fear of walking down the street late at night in case the weird man you rejected at the bus stop follows you home and attacks you to heal his bruised ego.

You are deemed argumentative for having an opinion and standing up for yourself by older generations and patriarchal men. You’re expected to have an opinion on gender and feminism but if you identify as a feminist then you are a feminazi.

As a WOC and millennial, you are expected to take a stand on race issues so the responsibility falls on you to expose the racism within society, because if you don’t say something then no one else will.

We are forced to be political- which isn’t a bad thing as it’s forced people to educate themselves and have an opinion. For me it gave me more of a sense of purpose, especially with my art, it helped me to create a discussion and shed light on the issues that have affected me and others while growing up such as the lack of representation in the media.

If you had to change one thing about your arts education what would it be?

I would have more access to artists of colour, I was barely exposed to anyone of colour while studying it was only through my own research that I found any. Also, it would’ve been interesting to look at the issues in society during class to spark inspiration for our work, given that a lot of people would’ve been looking at them anyway.

Your short visual documentaries focus on, feminism, misogyny, race, gender, identity and issues which affect millennials.

Why is it important that you use your creative expression to explore these subjects?

I feel like if I’m making work it might as well serve a purpose, so why not apply my creativity to something that needs talking about. The topics are ones that I find myself talking about online daily but barely making a difference. I feel a need to educate and inform others of these issues facing WOC that aren’t going away. In some ways, the damage has been done but hopefully, we can prevent the next generation from experiencing the same things we did like our parents before us.

I made a short film about men catcalling women. In my opinion, it is totally wrong for women to be inundated with advances from men just because they are pretty and walking down the street.

LOVE THIS.  THE IMAGERY AND THE AUDIO IS VERY POWERFUL.

Tell us about your film ‘W.O.C’ which is on at the Black Blossoms exhibition.

As a woman of colour, my life experiences have been vastly different from those of my white friends and colleagues. I have never felt properly represented in the media. Growing up, I didn’t want to be Scary Spice. What was so scary about this black woman? Her ‘outrageous’ hair or her dark skin? The film highlights how constantly being surrounded by whiteness affects young black girls.

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Stills from the W.O.C film

WORD.

Were you ever discouraged? And if so, how did it affect your creative work?

During my final project, I felt as if my tutors didn’t quite understand my work. Unfortunately, I was on a course without any tutors of colour so I felt unsupported by them, however, it forced me to source out other avenues of support.

What avenues of support did your source out?

Friends and other WOC on the internet, I used them as inspiration and for guidance on how to make my message best understood and representative of others experiences, as well as my own to the best of my ability.

Who are top five WOC on the internet?

  1. Lily Singh
  2. Michaela Coel
  3. Jessica Williams
  4. Amandla Stenberg
  5. The Unfair and Lovely Girls

Oh, and of course Franchesca Ramsey who totally slays on MTV Decoded.

Congratulations on graduating this year! Looking back, what would you tell your 1st- year self?

Change course, photography is not for you…try film!

Also join some groups made for POC/WOC you’d be surprised how liberating it feels to find a group of women who have experienced the same sorts of things you have growing up.

Thank you, Franchesca. How can we stay up to date with your work?

Follow me on Twitter.

Check out my website.

This interview is part of the #BlackBlossomsExhibit series.

Black Blossoms highlights the voices of Black Women in Higher Education and creative industries. The exhibition is open from 11 July – 2 October at UAL Showroom.