On a Serious Note.

When Kiana and I founded Break Journal, it was largely in response to the physical, mental and emotional stress that we felt as college students living and working in one of the most crowded, fastest paced cities in the world. But that lived experience did not build up in a vacuum. It is impossible to deny that we were simultaneously and constantly responding to a political reality that was discordant with our most deeply held values and convictions. Every day in an ever shortening news cycle we watched attacks on the civil rights and safety of women, people of color, the trans community, immigrants, Muslims, and others. In many ways, we watched it from a position of privilege, secure in our home, our financial future, and our physical safety. We also watched as the first iteration of the Muslim ban temporarily prevented Kiana’s grandmother from getting her visa to come to the United States. As uncertainty about DACA began to destabilize the lives of Dreamers we had gone to school with. As my uncle’s family became trapped between the rock of escalating violence in Nicaragua and the hard place of hard line immigration policy on asylum seekers.

We wanted to build something that offered respite from an otherwise overwhelming world. Photo and design minded, we looked to a publication that would rest very heavily on imagery and aesthetic while still striving to articulate what taking a break meant not just to us but to our communities and contributors. We wanted to give our readers permission and space to check out for a few moments and simply enjoy. In many ways, taking a break, in and of itself, is a privilege. I move through a world that already gives people who look like me permission to check out as I walk down the street, as I drive, as I stand on a subway platform. There are many people from whom the world withholds that permission. We fantasized that we could remove Break from the context it was born into. But it is just that, a fantasy. We cannot in good conscience continue to write and create the way we do without acknowledging some of the injustices that permeate our world.

How can we write about travel if we do not admit that the freedom of travel is not granted equally to all while the Muslim ban restricts international travel? How to write about my weekend hiking trips on the Metro North while Nia Wilson is murdered in cold blood waiting for the BART train. How can we write about art and design if we do not actively make space for women artists, artists of color, queer artists, who are historically underrepresented and erased? How can we write about culture if we are not willing to critique the mainstream as well as ourselves? How do we write a section called “current” and ignore the daily deluge of news streaming out of every corner of not only a country struggling with its fundamental identity, but a world straining under rising tempers, tensions, and sea levels. 

The short answer is: we can’t. While we want to keep Break a place where you can come to get away from the tide of bad news, we don’t want to make it a place that is isolated from reality. In furtherance of that goal, we pledge to you to be real, to be honest, to be diverse, and to try to better every day. As a publication, we want to ensure that there is something for everyone here. Work from a homogenous pool of contributors would not only do a disservice to those who don’t see themselves represented, but everyone who reads Break, as it would weaken the richness of experience and opinion featured here. So this is us, making an active commitment to a diversity of writers, interview subjects, and artists. As much as we are determined to keep Break true to its original mission, we don't want to cut the magazine off from the world we live in. 

Lizzy Cheshire