This issue was difficult. It’s easy to blame it all on the shock of the election, but the truth is when the human machinery of a publication has gone cold, it’s slow to start it up again. All of us have been occupied by the never-ending and ever-complicating cycles of our lives, and it took months and a rare in-person meeting for us to decide this issue’s shape and size. Then the election happened and everything we were working toward felt very small.
In the struggle to finish this issue, I had to remind myself that what we’re doing here isn’t merely a labor of love. As we in the US prepare for life under an administration that seems to hold the arts in contempt and that draws its power from the insidious lie that “real” (white) America has been held down from fulfilling its Manifest Destiny by the interloping “other,” the mission of Midnight Breakfast feels more relevant than ever. We founded this publication with the mission to promote diverse stories and perspectives because we know diversity in literature and art enriches our culture. We pay our contributors because we know that art, even when it’s intangible, has inherent value. The political power in America now belongs to people who feel threatened by these truths, but we must remember that we outnumber them. We must fight to make our voices heard and let these truths be known.
It’s fitting that all the pieces in this issue are about outsiders, in one form or another. We have personal essays about deconstructing the restrictive lines of genre in literature, about embracing tackiness as a form of rebellion, and about the struggle to give up one’s life and start anew as an immigrant. Our fiction is about women fighting the oppression of society: by learning to communicate in code, by never lowering their standards, and by flagrantly disobeying museum security. The human urge to conform and to seek comfort is a powerful weapon, but art is stronger still. I hope these pieces inspire you to resist the very idea that there is a “real” America whose viewpoint matters most. It’s nothing more than smoke and mirrors, a well-framed photograph of a crowd. The stories in this issue reflect only a sliver of the perspectives and experiences that make up our rich society, but even still they strike a blow against the bubble of conformism America’s incoming administration would lower over the country and the world. I’m proud to be publishing these writers and illustrators and to continue publishing diverse works of art that challenge the status quo. We’re fired up, and we’re not giving up. I hope you’re with us.