I am writing to you to convey a heartfelt gratitude and tribute to The Temple News for implementing this new sphere of illustrative journalism known as Intersection. For many marginalized people, the concept of feeling “seen” and represented accurately in the media is highly valuable. We are more than humans: we are stories with a heartbeat, and often those stories are untold and systematically suppressed.
When people use terms like “outrage culture,” “call-out culture” or “social justice warriors,” they are willingly overlooking the larger narrative. Our anger is not without virtue. Our emotions are a byproduct of oppression; our “call-outs” emerge from a demand for accountability in a society where human rights are not a priority. We are deliberately putting together our own table, instead of pulling up a chair at a party we were not invited to. We have a right to be seen, heard, understood, loved and fought for.
When Intersection arrived in the pages of my campus newspaper, I felt like I could not only see myself in the pages, but I found myself envisioning a small shift in the way we define good journalism. I sense that Intersection is a space conducive to understanding and being understood. It is a brave space where contributors can tell their stories and readers can weed out their preconceived notions and enhance the scope of their empathy.
Of everything published so far, my two favorite pieces were about mental health and bisexuality. The article titled “OMG I’m so OCD” resonated with me because I live with multiple mental illnesses, and I know the frustration with hearing people say things like, “This weather is so bipolar,” and, “Wow, she is such a psycho,” and “Dashboard Confessional makes music to cut your wrists to.” This is disheartening to me because living with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, social anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder has made a monumental impact on my life and hearing these things makes me feel both misunderstood and invalidated.
Another part of my identity that is often misunderstood and invalidated is my sexuality. I am bisexual. I am not gay nor am I straight. I am not confused nor am I experimenting, nor in a phase. I know exactly who I am. Yet, heteronormativity reigns supreme in our society, and bisexuality is not given a chance to be understood. I loved the poem titled “Are You Confused?” because it really spoke to my own struggles with being seen as I am, as opposed to what society wants to paint me as. I have written several poems that express those same emotions.
At the core, humans just want to be loved, accepted, validated and understood. I think the toll oppression takes on a spirit is severely underestimated. Hopefully, Intersection will help connect readers to experiences they have never had, perspectives they would otherwise not see and stories they’ve never read because they weren’t given the space.
As an activist, I think one of the central issues in this fight for equality is a lack of education and understanding. We need to break down stereotypes, humanize marginalized groups, tell their stories ethically and do our best to foster civil discourse that leads to real cultural change. True change doesn’t begin in politics; it begins in our minds and our hearts.
We need to talk about race, we need to talk about sexuality and gender, and we need to talk about mental health, disability, class and religion. To quote late 19th and early 20th-century journalist Finley Peter Dunne, “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Brittany Valentine, a senior journalism major, is a member of the Feminist Alliance at Temple University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at @recoveryspirit on Instagram.