You may not know this about me, but I’m pretty reticent. I am also an able-bodied white heterosexual male (read: abundantly privileged from the get-go). Speaking out and speaking up is a challenge for me, and it’s one I often let get the better of me. I am privileged in more ways than I know, and I know that I take that for granted because I’ve never experienced anything else.
In light of the absolute atrocities that have recently taken place (or, at least those that have garnered the attention of the media, because to say that what the media has been covering is the extent of it would be to dismiss the entire systemic aspect of it), I wanted to speak up. I recognized that being an ally requires taking action, but because of who I am I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what I could do that would actually contribute in a meaningful way. I was afraid of doing the wrong thing. I was afraid of saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that I would only make things worse—that my privilege and the privileges that I don’t even know I have would somehow keep me from being more than just (white) noise. I wanted to do more than just show support, but didn’t know how to do it correctly, because I wanted to do more than just erect a hashtag in some kind of disconnected solidarity. I was completely paralyzed by that fear. And where some would say that that is prejudice hard at work, I want to say it’s a form of torment. Because I do care. Because black lives do matter. And not just black lives but every life: every single person on the gender spectrum, every single person on the sexuality spectrum, every single person regardless of ability or disability or religion or ethnicity or whatever other facets which they may consider define their identity.
I can’t let that silence go on. To be silent is to let the oppressive forces go unchecked. It’s time to step up; writers should not be passive—and not just writers: no one, really, should be passive. As the editor of this journal, I have the privilege of giving platforms to voices that aren’t privileged. Lunch Ticket’s mission is to publish work by under-privileged voices, to promote social justice through publishing without hesitation or apology meritorious work that challenges the toxic status quo of oppression. It’s time for all of us to step up. It’s time for all of us to do what we can—to remember that to be an ally is to be an ally: that being an ally is not sitting idly by for whatever reason. From Danez Smith’s essay to the interview with Antonia Crane to Noh Anothai’s translations of Thai political protest poems, this issue of Lunch Ticket does not compromise on its vision but pushes forward in every way it can.
I can at least start here. I can do right with this. If you’ve been caught up in the same fears, I hope you’ll find the strength to join me.