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Editor’s Letter – 11/7/18

Last week, The Tulsa Voice was honored with the 2018 News Media Award from the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice. Former editor Liz Blood and I accepted the award, alongside some of the most dedicated and inspiring activists, advocates, and organizers in our city. We shared the honor with representatives from change-making groups like Dream Act Oklahoma, Poetic Justice, Men of Power, the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, and more.

Something Rev. Gerald Davis said in his invocation at the ceremony has been rattling around in my head ever since: “The justice we seek is love in public.”

What a line, right? It marries two concepts diametrically opposed in this country: love and justice. As readers of this paper know, Oklahoma’s conception of “justice” has metastasized into a malignant tumor of overcrowded prisons, women shackled during childbirth, burdensome fees and fines that criminalize the poor, and a world-record incarceration rate that makes Singapore look like The Netherlands.

There is not, in other words, much love at the heart of our justice system. So what does it mean, then, to fight for social justice? What does it mean to love in public?

For another local Reverend, Chris Moore of Congregational Fellowship Church, it means “to welcome all of God’s creation as if it were all created by God.” That’s from this issue’s cover story by Fraser Kastner, a powerful look at the important role played by LGBTQ+ friendly faith communities in Tulsa.

You’ll also find another story about a different kind of salvation at The ReVue’s Gospel Sunday Brunch drag show; a feature by Mary Noble about how mental health professionals are tackling rising suicide rates among some of Tulsa’s most marginalized communities; a look at one organization’s efforts to provide job training for formerly-incarcerated Tulsans; an interview with New Yorker staff writer Susan Orlean on the community-building power of public libraries; and more of what one disgruntled TTV Facebook reviewer memorably called “social justice smut.”

National headlines over the last couple weeks have been among the most disturbing in recent memory. We’ve seen a rash of right-wing terrorism—including the worst mass killing of Jews in U.S. history, a foiled bomb plot against the President’s critics, and the slaying of a black couple at a grocery store in Kentucky. At the same time, the Trump administration has ramped up its usual stoking of racialized grievances, publicly toyed with the idea of stripping transgender people of legal protections, and proposed unilaterally ending the constitutionally-protected birthright of citizenship for certain babies born in the U.S.

No—there’s not much love in our public life, and it seems to become more loveless by the hour. But we have no choice but to make room for the possibility of something different. This paper is our attempt to do just that.   

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