It’s difficult to recall a time when reading the news wasn’t painful. Indeed, if there was ever such a time, it might bear some responsibility for the state of the world today: How much has been dredged up into our cultural consciousness because pain is new, but rather because pain is heard?
Let’s take what’s somewhat ironically called the “sexual harassment crisis,” as though the terrible way in which women and vulnerable gay youth are often treated by men was something new. As if, if we were honest, we couldn’t point to a hundred instances of of such behavior in our immediate environment, some of which we’re to some degree culpable.
You could point to a thousand places where the onslaught of revelations and allegations emerged: They started with comedian Hannibal Buress making a joke about Bill Cosby. It started with Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson standing up to serial harasser Roger Ailes, or actor Rose McGowan and others taking aim at movie mogul and alleged abuser Harvey Weinstein. It started with actor Alyssa Milano sharing Tarana Burke’s #MeToo hashtag, giving women (and some men) an outlet to voice a pain and rage which was long stifled. It started with anger over Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” and how it was forgiven by his supporters. It started with the Women’s March, and the realization that while all of these voices were in pain, none of them were alone.
It’s important to realize that we’re not alone in our pain. We could trade out the #MeToo campaign for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, or a dozen others, and have the same pattern: Pain, loss, and then a dozen or more small pockets of strength that create a foundation for that rage and pain to be given a voice. And those voices have needed to be heard for a long, long time.
At Radius, we strive to discover voices that speak to cultural wounds with power and eloquence, and are astounded at how often we’re astounded by what we find. These, then, are our 2017 Pushcart Prize nominees – six voices that we are immensely proud to give a platform, to form an inflection in the national conversation:
Tell Me What? by Juan Manuel Pérez (pub. Sept. 5, 2017)
runners by Shakeema Smalls (pub. July 19, 2017)
Dialectics of Diaspora by Hazem Fahmy (pub. May 1,, 2017)
Shot by Ronald J. Pelias (pub. April 23, 2017)
Elegy for Phife Dawg by Alan Chazaro (pub. March 14, 2017)
We never know which tiny spark will light a wildfire that leads to actual change, but we know we’re stronger speaking together than we are apart.