When all 17 remaining members of the White House’s committee for the arts and humanities collectively resigned on Aug. 18 in protest of the President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, I got to thinking about our culture and the role we all play in its evolution.
The phrase “arts and culture” gets tossed around a lot—and usually the emphasis is on the arts part, while the culture part hovers amorphously in the background. In the media industry, we tend to focus on artists and their works, celebrating their creation and creativity. But what about culture? We pay attention to the cultures of specific communities in ethnic or racial terms, to distinct groups defined by some set of shared values or affiliations, and too often we wrongly default to a baseline of straight white culture. Meanwhile the gestalt of a truly American culture—a whole greater than the sum of its diverse parts— recedes to the point of near invisibility.
Perhaps this myopia is a result of white supremacy and the horrifying ways it erases culture—whether by slavery, assimilation or white-washing—and misleads us into tidy niches of homogeneity. White supremacy tells us to stay in our lane and suppresses the real power of our connective tissue, our nuanced, multifaceted and inclusive culture.
Many of the stories in this issue are about artists who are bringing that culture into view.
See you out there,
Editor in Chief