Letter from the Editor 01.21.2021
On magazines, inauguration, and a new version of Street.
When I was younger, I read every issue of Seventeen magazine exactly three times: the first with my mom, where we’d flip through the fashion sections and dissect every shoe choice and pattern on the page. The second by myself, where I’d devour every word, storing knowledge of toxic shock syndrome and turns of phrase for times when they’d matter. The third was with my father, where we’d reenact the interviews. He’d always play the celebrity and I’d always be the journalist.
Magazines used to be my chief source of comfort. I think that was because, despite their tangibility, they had a fictitious feel. After all, they contained keys to the cosmopolitan world I wanted to exist in when I grew up: What shoes to wear to a job interview, how to do winged eyeliner, tips for getting boys to text you back, explainers of the Obama administration and all it signified. They were stories of my future. And now that I’m in my future, living it differently than seven–year–old me imagined, magazines no longer feel like a fuzzy blanket.
When I open a page of Cosmopolitan or scroll through the homepage of The Cut, their product isn’t designed for the full version of me. Sure, their headlines may appeal to the part of my personality that is halfway to a college graduate or the part of me that really cares about whether or not Armie Hammer is a cannibal. But the editors of these legacy news organizations often ignore the most central part of me — that I am a Puerto Rican–American woman looking to build generational wealth in a time plagued by bullshit.
15 days ago, a makeshift army of white nationalists stormed the Capitol in a display of privilege that feels like a fever dream. These insurrectionists were smoking weed in Rotunda, stealing documents from Nancy Pelosi, and walking around maskless while the National Guard stood idle. Meanwhile, I remember how in tenth grade a school resource officer used to ask only me for ID every time I walked through the halls. Yesterday, the first female, Black, and South Asian vice president was inaugurated, and I wonder if she feels the same burden of being the first that I feel in this role. Where are the magazines asking those questions? Where are the magazines integrating those identities into their coverage? Where do I look for comfort?
I can’t promise that Street holds all the answers. But I can promise that we’re going to be a place of comfort for people of color on this campus — and that means interrogating our surroundings with honesty and accountability while also highlighting the work we’re all doing to make Penn better.
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