When we announced the themes of injustice and protest, we were overwhelmed with quality writing. We felt the outpouring of support for Pilgrimage and many worthy causes, issues, and movements. When I first started writing this before the election, I pondered if things worsened or if there was progress in the people raising their voices on the various fronts against injustice.
Like so many, I have gone through a period of shock, anger, mourning, and discouragement in knowing that we are living in times of struggle and polarization. We are in a moment when our patience, resolve, and trust in others will be routinely tested. It may be hard to uncover it, but we must find ways to speak up and look closer for hope. There are moments where the voice of protest must be assertive, pushing back anger like Christopher “Rooster” Martinez’s poem, “Abrasive Be.” There remains voices that have the power to expose injustices we don’t know enough about, like Gerard Rebledo’s poetic rememberance of the 43 teachers disappeared and murdered in Mexico, respect to the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, reminders that Native American communities face poverty and neglect daily, along with the continued peaceful protests of water protectors at Standing Rock. Their resolve must be supported and admired. The simple want of clean water should not be a point of disagreement.
For Pilgrimage Press, it is not a great leap for us to explore injustice and protest since it’s been in our bones for a long time. I am filled with gratitude to the writers and readers. I am proud to be an ally of the environment, the refugee, the writers who prevail against discrimination, the protester who holds deep courage to serve jail time for their convictions, or the activist who witnesses what leaves us speechless and then speaks out. Our prose, poems, and unified voices help us overcome the distances and create connections and solidarity. It can also be accomplished by preserving our past heroes who confronted protest and still remind us to never forget like Craig Santos Perez’s reflection on the legacy of colonialism or finding the courage to write about Ferguson’s aftermath from across the country. The pursuit of respect and compassion in our hearts can emerge as small supportive gestures: a smile, a nod, or the invitation to whistle or sing in public.
We write to remind each other that we are not alone and in the pursuit of our continued awakenings that make us stronger citizens. There is courage in the words of our contributors as they confront violence and ugliness in the world. They write to find peace in places where it is hard to discover. They speculate of dytopian lives on Mars, how we can still stand up for our planet now, how to be inclusive, and how to fight misogyny, bigotry, racism, homophobia, and police brutality while still supporting law enforcement. No matter the outcome of the election, we will all keep doing the important work and pursuing justice on the local, national, and international level. It doesn’t have to be polarizing if we are in support of people and environment, and we can remain determined to create community, unity, and dialogue even if it deals with the taboos we don’t always feel confident or ready to address. Now is the time to continue our work and our art.