At This Moment/In Response to Our "Interesting" Times

By Cheryl Scheir & W.P. Eichler

I am writing this piece on the verge of launching the first edition of Next Page Ink, an online literary magazine that I have dreamed about, thought about, inner-dialogued about for years. In the past few months, perfectly timed for a “what else do we have to do” quarantine, I have collaborated with my co-editor, Will, who has crafted a website that brings my vision to life. Together, we identified contributors from within and beyond our personal circles and invited them to dare share a part of themselves—at once a thrilling and risky thing to do.

 

So, there we found ourselves, readying for the premier of our, in my words, “accessible, non-pompous, non-political” creative digest, and then…

 

George Floyd

 

We both felt it, and maybe you did too. The ground-splitting thunderclap of a man dying under the force of another man, and that man in civil authority. Then the rumbles of How did this happen? And more rumbles, How could this have happened again? Then in the aftermath of the storm, the thickening humidity, hovering with What do we do now?

 

Will and I agreed that we cannot proceed with our first edition without acknowledging this moment or this series of moments in our time. I speak for myself when I say that I am ready to do what I can, and what I can do is write.

 

But perhaps now is not the time for me to write. What I can also do, now that we have this platform, is to use it to elevate a diverse range of creative voices.

 

I invite any and all to come to the table of this writers’ room.

 

We want you to be heard.

 

I also invite our readers to interact thoughtfully with all of our pieces, here and in future issues, with hopes that you will be nudged, stretched, educated, informed, and challenged to understand more, grow toward the light, and change for the better.

~

*I was born in 1996, and I was four years, nine months, and 5 days old when the Twin Towers fell. I do not remember it. The United States’ invasion of Afghanistan began when I was four years, ten months, and one day old. It has continued until now; I am twenty-three years, six months, and 3 days old as of the time I am writing this. In my lifetime, there have been 171 mass shootings in the United States, an untold amount of people have been killed by the police, the US has seen two immense economic recessions, the first Black President was elected in the United States, and, now, I am witnessing another landmark moment in the history of this country. 

 

If I am not mistaken, I am a member of the Millennial Generation, or maybe Generation Z, it is honestly unclear, but regardless, I believe that whatever horrible person dreamed up the phrase “May you live in interesting times,” is cackling in their grave. I could just say that I’m tired and be done with it, but to do so would be a disservice to those who not only must experience these interesting times, but must also endure and struggle against the systemic oppression which has been in place in our nation since the first slave ships arrived on the shores of what would eventually become the United States of America. This system exists to hold back people of color and uphold white supremacy in our nation. To say otherwise is to have chosen the side of this racist system. 

 

For centuries, white people — cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, white men in particular — people who look like me — have been placed on a pedestal in our society and from their pedestals have taken conscious and unconscious steps aimed at ensuring that these pedestals are never destroyed. The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are just the most recent versions of such stories to appear in the public consciousness. The protests taking place in their names, protests carried out in order to ensure the basic human rights of people of color, are hopefully the final ones we will have to witness. However, that hope cannot allow those of us who have stood idly by while this system has harmed our peers to become complacent in our activism. 

 

We must stand side by side with our Black compatriots and assist them in their march towards justice and dignity. We must put to rest our ignorant cries for peace in times of injustice, for peace without justice is nothing more than silence, and in the words of Elie Wiesel, “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” We must tear down the pedestals our forebears have built, the pedestals from which those who carry power in our nation look down and ask why the world is on fire, when they themselves had been pouring the gasoline, insisting it was rain.

*The views expressed in this piece are the opinions of W.P. Eichler and are not meant to represent Next Page Ink as a whole.

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