Editor's Letter: Love and Faith

Dear Reader,

Hello, and welcome to the first, legitimate issue of WOKEN magazine! WOOOOOOO.

For those of you who don’t know us already, WOKEN is a feminist art and literary magazine for PoC. We strive to foster a more diverse artistic culture within mainstream media, and break the stereotypes that PoC are one-dimensional. We are artists, and we are limitless. 

One of the things WOKEN focuses on is intersectionality, especially since many of the artists and writers who have contributed to this issue are people of color who identify with many different groups within much broader cultural identifiers—naturally, there are different levels of identities here, since no person’s selfhood exists as a flat plane. That intersectionality, though, is kind of beautiful, because it’s interesting to see where all these groups cross paths. And the very idea of having this deeper identity—full and whole, a complete portrait of who one is—is what makes an individual person and their experiences unique, which therefore makes the larger community so diverse and colored-in with perspective--conversations delve deeper, love wafts.

A month ago I attended a conference in Tampa: the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, or, alternatively, the People of Color Conference. Three days, 1600 people—when the event was over and everyone had left for home, people peeled away feeling more settled within themselves yet connected at the same time, cradling this immense love for everyone they’d met and everyone they only wished they'd met. This description rings like a heavily romanticized version of the truth, but it isn’t. I took from the conference miles of information about cultural identity and intersectionality--and new Facebook pictures: evidence of the relationships I'd built there, and intimations of the flourishing relationships I’d have with the same people over Snapchat and Instagram DM’s. SDLC felt like a prolonged, thought-provoking dream—hazy now only because it was so sincere in the moment. 

Some of those people are here with us, on staff, now: people I know now, and people I haven’t gotten the chance to encounter in person, but all faces of the 1600 from that singularly safe and moving space. See, the real point is not whether I actually know one person or the other; it is the common purpose of social awareness and the idea that beauty lies in community-- these things alone hold the substance WOKEN feeds off of.


What makes SDLC so great is that it's a sea of unity; everyone is on the same page with similar agendas. But among this vast ocean of remarkable faces, extraordinary young people marking important accomplishments in social justice and representing the future of a society wherein justice lies for those who don’t have that privilege today, there was an illustrious figure who stood tall on the conference stage, who looked with kind eyes among us on the first day and waved goodbye on the last: his name is Rodney Glasgow, an activist and an educator, with insight that speaks volumes to those who will listen.  “Love itself,” he says, “is a revolutionary act.” And it is, in all its forms, the main source of inspiration. 

Today kicks off the New Year—2016—and there is nothing more intimidating than these blank and numbered days; when we attempt to see into the future, we think of time in units of 360 rather than in something larger, and infinite. The year 2020, the year 3000, tomorrow. On WOKEN we’ll be doing the same thing: thinking in chunks, in bits and bobs. While today kicks off 2016, we also begin the January-February issue, Love and Faith.


Branching off of these main themes and the season's feelings themselves are the correlating ideas of solitude and the state of being emotionally tender, and raw. Since the winter season evokes thoughts of the indoors and feelings of coziness, it’s easy to get lost in the drift of comfort and solitude: ideas that also tag along with these specific emotions, along with this heightened sense of vulnerability that haunts the wintertime and keeps family close or apart. Obviously, all of these themes are broad: they fit under or umbrella over other arching themes that can be found in this issue. So here, associating big, blatantly-interconnected words with love, faith, and solitude or vulnerability (“RELATIONSHIPS!” “TRUST!” “SILENCE!”) is not the only way we are combing through this issue's breadth of ideas and articles; these next few weeks will venture into darker corners, topics that relate to love and faith but are underrepresented. Sexuality, gender identity, religion, ability in one's mental, emotional, or physical state: where these identifiers converge and where they don’t, and how all of the above can intersect with feminism and identifying as people of color. That is what WOKEN IS ALL ABOUT!!

But there’s a second part. In the winter, leaves are loosened from their branches and animals recede into their homes, but all return in months’ time, when the new bloom comes in the spring. So while winter is about solitude and being vulnerable, it is also about the other end of the spectrum: reemergence. The comeback kid. A new world, with millions of possibilities and tons of opportunity, all built from the foundation of love. There is a quote in a song from The Wiz called “Home” that speaks about this, and how loving something or someone can make the passing drawl of days more substantiated, how love is what draws from us light: “Living here in this brand new world might be a fantasy; yes, it might be, but it taught me to love, to love, to love, so I know that it’s real…”

I’m so pumped! Hyped! Also, I want to shout out the staff for being so helpful, and anyone who has given contributions to this issue. I also wanted to give a huge, warm thank-you to the SDLC community, for building such a beautiful and memorable three days that I will always, always remember (and for blowing up my Facebook feed with interesting, funny stuff. SERIOUSLY needed some excitement there).

And lastly, I want to say thank you to YOU, for being here, for reading this. It is a gift that you’re with us while this magazine breathes new life, because beginnings are beautiful; I’m so excited that you’re with us on this one.