This Journal is a strong supporter of reading books that challenge us as readers and that ask us to participate in active and critical engagement with words. Of course, any book as well as any other journal that encourages us to shift our perspectives and world-views will be supported here. Art and creativity will be the glue that binds us together — culturally and morally.
The seemingly implosive start of what will be a culturally and morally difficult time will call for creative individuals to embrace what we love and to share that passion with others. Now is the time to support (and continue supporting) contemporary artists and to expose ourselves to different perspectives and views of the world.
Contemporary means “of now” and as of late, there has been so much going on now. We’ve had supporters of civil rights march for the care and treatment for women and for all people of color; we’ve had writers resisting any potential ban of free speech; we’ve had the press and officials of government standing up against restrictions of public information — these are coalitions of strength and a testament of what we can do together. They’re historical moments that ask us to be present and that ask us to engage in however way we can.
What kind of stories can bring people together to establish community and activism? What kind of stories unite us through our commonalities from the human experience? It starts by picking up a book and valuing voices that have been or are being undervalued.
This involves reading poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and non-fiction books. This includes watching documentaries and films that speak about another’s life experience; this also includes understanding art and appreciating music made by and from individuals in and outside of the united states.
The creative community has an opportunity to shape who and what is valued – let that be our strength as people and as community members that uphold culture and express moments of history.
Reading For Change
Anger — outrage — discontent — sadness — many words have been used to describe, as best as possible, the emotions felt after the 2017 election by so many individuals who call the united states home. Much of the advice that I’ve encountered have all talked about contributing toward change in however way we can. More advice also has talked about reading books specifically by and about individuals who are currently being politically scapegoated for their religious beliefs.
“Read more books by and about Muslims, particularly books written in the last ten years. It’s a small way to understand and empathize with a group of your fellow Americans who desperately need the understanding and empathy of their countrymen and women.” — Emily Temple, Lithub
Lithub has been one of my go-to websites for articles on how literature can create change (supporting organizations and the arts is an important step toward keeping them alive and well). Their article about reading books by Muslim authors and about the Muslim experience tells us that empathy starts with individuals wiling to place value on individuals and world-views that have been undervalued. Action begins not just on a march or by making phone calls — all that matters too — but it ultimately begins with a reevaluation of our selves, our person, or values, and who we want to be and what we want to leave behind. Picking up a book or reading a story on a person’s experience or just listening and truthfully trying to understand the world through that individual’s eyes is a simple move to make. Please consider making it — and consider learning about people whose voices are traditionally undervalued.