chicago Diversity

July Letter From the Editor

Sunday, July 03, 2016 Jenny

As I began this month's letter a lot of things were running through my mind about the state of the world. I can't just blindly continue on without sharing my thoughts on things and how that can affect the content we create on Halfstack. I am a firm believer that, we as a people, can change the world - all it takes is one small step in a better direction. There's a lot of heart ache and sadness and yet I feel this collective shift happening in the world around me. Although there is so much fighting, I see more and more people coming together to support one another.

These past two months, we have bore witness to atrocities. From the attacks in Istanbul, Bangladesh and Orlando to the continuing issues in Kabul, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Egypt and Turkey. Many lives have been lost. Many families have been torn apart. There are many issues that our world is facing. We have a tendency to watch the news and in a way disassociate ourselves from the things we see. Due to this, many of us haven't truly connected the dots to the realities of the affects of the refugee crisis our world is facing. There is even crisis right in our hometown of Chicago. There were 72 murders and 361 shootings in Chicago in June, according to the Chicago Police Department. Last year, Chicago had more homicides than New York and Los Angeles combined.

We watch the news and see political debates happening on social media as campaign season continues to forge forward and I wonder, is this the world I want my children to grow up in? The reality is that I have no choice, but I do have the ability to decide to teach my children differently. I have the ability to instill in my daughters tolerance, kindness and appreciation for diversity and different cultures. Politicians like Donald Trump spew hateful, intolerant and ignorant words about people of different cultures, in particular Muslims and Mexicans. They use scare tactics to push people apart and to play the blame game. Let's not play into their games. Let's continue to love because UNITED we stand, DIVIDED we fall. 

CreditDiana Davies/International Film Circuit 
As a minority I am all too aware of the issues that I face in this world, but I know I have the power to change my destiny. I have the ability to make and create change. I know we can do better. Two of our Senior Editors: Thom Olson and Tareq Al’Saud had brought up the idea to me of releasing a special edition of Halfstack in celebration of Ramadan. If you are not sure what Ramadan is - here is a little recap: In June millions of Muslims around the world embarked on a month of intense prayer, dawn to dusk fasting and nightly feasts. The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. As we release this issue and as I prep the blog theme for July, Ramadan is coming to an end. I was moved with the idea of sharing this issue with our international and Muslim readers. We know you are reading, we know you are there and we stand in solidarity with you. Despite the hardships the world is facing, we hope this issue gives you some respite, something to be inspired by and something to motivate you to continue to follow your dreams.

As Halfstack's readership has grown so has our reach. It's amazing to see our issues and blog being read in over 30 countries now. It's amazing to know that our work is touching people's lives far and wide. The beautiful thing about Halfstack is that we are an incredibly diverse team with writers, photographers and designers from all walks of life and all kinds of different backgrounds and cultures. Diversity is one of the driving factors behind why I launched this publication 4 years ago. I didn’t see enough diversity in the publications I was reading. Many of those publications were also solely focusing on issues that were only skin-deep. I wanted to go beyond that; I wanted to showcase different ideas, lifestyles, art, music, interesting people and creativity that wasn’t a part of the status quo.

As we lead into Fourth of July, I can't help but reflect on the idea that as we celebrate our freedoms, many Americans are also finishing up celebrating Ramadan. To me, that is a beautiful idea. The idea that America is the land of the free and it’s a beautiful melting pot of cultures that make up our national population. A place where people are free to speak their mind, love who they want and practice whatever religion they choose without fear of repercussion. I know it's not perfect and we still have many issues, but we are going in the right direction. I am proud of that and I hope that I can continue to expose my children to the different cultures, religions and people of the world.

Image: Dailymail UK

Muslims, Christians, Agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, and all religions and people of all walks of life from Latinos to Germans to the LGBTQ community can find common ground on one idea: LOVE. We must come together and love one another. We must come together and appreciate one another. We must come together and do more than just "tolerate" and be tolerant - we must embrace our differences. I am not going to throw politics into this, but know that our decisions when it comes to who we put into power of this world is a direct reflection of the future we want. Obama once said, "Be the change you want to see in this world" and we NEED to continue to push for change. We must come together to make this world a better place.


The July editorial direction will feature stories that showcase diversity. Diversity in our neighborhoods, food, cultures and people. We will be focusing on interesting events, artists, and profiles of people doing wonderful things to promote diversity and showcase the beautiful city that is Chicago and how the people are working to make it better. Thank you as always for your continued support as we grow and evolve. I hope we can continue to bring you a unique perspective on the world through our creative endeavors. 

Thank you for reading -
Jen Lezan-Veguilla
Editor in Chief 

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