To our readers,
It’s been over a week now since I wrote this letter. I wrote it late on Wednesday, Nov. 9th, through a flood of tears, misspelling words and making easy errors. I then locked it up within my computer and let it sit for over a week. In that week, I slept a lot. I cried a bunch. I read a lot of articles. I argued with friends and family. I examined my privilege more vigorously. I knew it was time to get to work. And so, I re-opened this letter.
On the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8 to very early Wednesday morning, I, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of VocaLady Magazine, sat in a room full of people I care about deeply and saw their eyes fill with tears. I heard their sobs. I held their trembling shoulders and stroked their hair. As a Resident Assistant to those people, students barely into their 20s, I felt my chest tighten and my heart sink as I felt their pain. They saw me cry – and they heard me shout “no” when at around 3 a.m. on Nov. 9th, CNN announced that Hillary Clinton had called to concede the election to Donald Trump.
As I wandered through Nov. 9th, I was surrounded by an eerily somber quiet on an otherwise bustling campus in Washington, D.C. As I sat through breakfast with a friend, the room around me full of students fell silent as our laptops came alive with Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. Tears flowed again. I later joined a group of students grouped around a television as President Barack Obama spoke, rubbing one another’s arms and holding hands.
Hillary Clinton was not, by any means, our saving grace. Her past policies and rhetoric understandably has left many uneasy, including those from marginalized communities. She wasn’t as progressive as many of us hoped and her certainly impressive record of experience was marred with controversy. To some, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton was an appealing option. To some, voting third party meant exercising one’s right, but also not compromising values. I do not blame the third party voters.
Instead, I am incredibly dismayed with the election of Donald Trump and those who voted for him. It’s his rhetoric and positioning that has haunted many for the past week and for the past year. He has bragged about sexually assaulting women. He called for the deportation and “extreme vetting” of Muslims and immigrants. He has called Hispanics rapists. He has harmfully called undocumented immigrants “illegal.” He took on a vice president who has called for conversion therapy. He has spouted bigotry, racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia and more and now he is our president.
Every time I talk about the mission of this magazine, I realize we have more to do, further to go. We strive to elevate the voices of marginalized communities and to break down barriers. We seek to place marginalized folks in a position of power within the communications field so they can change the rhetoric, they can change the narrative, and they can tell the story. However, these voices are growing increasingly threatened. And we must protect them.
To fellow white people reading this, now is your time to examine your privilege even more deeply. Ally is not a noun; it is a verb. We are the ones, especially white women, responsible for electing such a man. We have to care for and protect our friends while also speaking up to other white people. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny, all of these things do not always present themselves so easily. The “nice white people” do not burn crosses, but they do pull their children closer in what they dub “bad” areas and call peaceful protests “riots.” Misogyny can also present itself in knowing that a man has bragged about sexual assault and voting for him anyway. Do not tone-police. Do not tell people it’ll be “okay.” People are terrified. Step up and speak up. Educate yourself. Educate your peers. Do not waver.
With the outcome of our recent presidential election, I promise to our readers that we will do more. We will go further. We will fight harder. We will strive to be more inclusive. We will strive to lift up more voices. We will not be silent. Silence is violence.
Our fight isn’t over, readers. It’s only just begun and it’s a fight we are ready to keep fighting. In Michelle Obama’s words, “when they go low, we go high.” We will continue to go high in order to serve our readers and to serve the voices threatened and hurt. This is our duty at VocaLady Magazine and we are ready to get to work.