Editor's Letter: Reinvention
So we’ve finally finished our first issue and at last are publishing our second! My excitement extends beyond the room I’m sitting in, beyond this letter I’m writing—these past months have been so profoundly moving, and I think seeing this cohesion of art serving one greater and necessary purpose is truly inspirational. Here lies the convergence of poetic and aesthetic beauty, and the hard work and passion necessary to be a social justice warrior. And when these messages emit from young feminists of color… well, such wisdom demands respect and open ears.
Two weekends ago, I went to the de Young museum: I walked past art exhibits and experienced the extraordinary, simple beauty that lies under brushstrokes, colors, and the strong yet silent dignity of a painting hung on plain white wall. I attended alone; there’s a unique experience that forms the differences between quietly appreciating art and conversing about it, because art can be quite subjective and you, as an individual viewer, take from a piece what you make of it. I was less fascinated by the subject matter and more interested in the brush strokes, the way the strings of the brushes’ hair made the texture of the canvas look more fibrous. I’d look at a painting and scrutinize the physical details—captured traces of paint movement—and marvel in the thought of said-artist looking at the painting and being satisfied with it, mixing pink and blue to make purple. Yes, the fact that these artists—such great cultural influences—COULD HAVE MIGHT HAVE POSSIBLY BEEN HUMAN, or could have possibly been like me, young and naïve, was what fascinated me. It helped me realize how important we are, and how important the decisions we make are, and I think this is the first step to self-reflection: realizing that the actions you’ve taken affect more than just your personal hub. Now let’s go back to painting. Once you’ve reflected, you become easier to alter, at least consciously and on your own; if a piece of artwork is deep enough, it has the power to change you. When I look at art, my emotions and thoughts are malleable; they’ll bend every which way, depending on what I’m observing. And this is how one might describe reinvention: next months’ theme.
Reinvention. It is the process of evolving, creating, and building. It is the idea of starting something new, on a clean slate. Reinvention is a natural process for teenagers. We’re always rebuilding and troubleshooting and inventing because our minds are more malleable now than they ever were and ever will be. We reinvent because it is in adolescence when the mission to “find ourselves” becomes more urgent, when we embark on the quest of discovering who we are without a hint from our normal support systems. It’s just the way the universe works, I think. “What’s your passion?” and “How would you define yourself?” are two questions I’m asked by complete rando’s when I reveal that I’m a teenager, yet neither school nor my parents have taught me the correct answers. But the truth is, that story is still being written, and the answers are still being decided upon. And it will take a lot of reinvention—a lot of adventure—for me to find out who I am: the constant part of my soul that sticks with me no matter how many identities I take on. But there’s still that part of me that questions these thoughts, like is there a constant part of me that stays the same, or am I being morphed completely as I grow? I don’t know. Again, those questions are still being answered.
Sometimes, though, reinvention can be due to something negative; perhaps one wants to change themselves because of nagging outside influences. And this issue is all about those aspects of reinvention too, the way one might change or silence themselves because of words coming from the outside. Pressure.
There are also the outskirts of the theme, the distant associations that many don’t correlate with reinvention but are no less significant than topics like phases or starting a new school. Reinvention includes mixing things up, being different, standing out. Reinvention does not necessarily involve actual CHANGE—it could mean having a changed attitude about yourself, and having a different perspective on some issue. Like in Beyonce’s “Formation”, when she sings for the pride she has in her culture and says “I slay, I slay” because she DOES, or when she speaks on issues like the Black Lives Matter movement and the larger question of what it means to be black in America—both topics that she hasn’t truly involved herself with in the past. In this way, the theme also involves WAKING UP to issues that are necessary for discussion and action, and approaching a conversation differently than you had before. Black History Month was incredible this year—at least, as “incredible” as it can be in an anti-black society. Social issues and the media have converged in the past, but it seems as if the public is only seeing the problems—or at least recognizing them—now. The #BlackLivesMatter movement finally arose in discussion at my family dinner table after the Kendrick Lamar performance, but was skimmed over after the deaths of Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, John Crawford, and Sandra Bland—just to name a few. Even then, I’ve met many people who firmly believe in the separation between pop culture and “politics”. It can be frustrating to partake in these fights: trying to understand why someone believes social justice issues should be set aside in light of VERY IMPORTANT EVENTS like the Grammys, attempting to shift their thoughts. But sometimes it works. And in a way that experience—one of affecting someone else’s opinions, or at least educating them—is a very small type of reinvention for both the person you’ve conversed with and—surprisingly—yourself. You become a stronger person, a better activist, a fueled fighter.
There’s plenty more that I can say about the theme, but alas, I’ll let the issue do that for you. And yes, cheers to Black History Month, and let us continue the conversation to forward ALL people of color's place in society. Time can’t determine the significance of a discussion; only we can.
And before we fully move into March, please take a moment to remember Trayvon Martin: it’s been 4 years and 4 days. It is upsetting that the cops who have stolen black lives are still out and about and living their lives while this boy didn’t have the chance to. It is upsetting that a teenager’s life was placed in the hands of someone’s implicit bias and prejudice. See, #BlackLivesMatter did not start this month. It was Trayvon Martin’s murder that inspired that awakening.
We will never stop saying his name.
Rest in power.