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Deana Taylor wants to help improve the lives and diminish the disparities faced by Black folks in Memphis, Tennessee. 

In many ways Memphis, Tennessee embodies all of the vaulting summits and desolate valleys of the Black American experience. The city has a large blues scene, a rich civil rights history, and an impressive Black culinary tradition. But simultaneously, it is a city marred by racial inequality, discrimination, and unadorned white supremacy. Last month the statue of the Confederate soldier and staunch white supremacist, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was finally removed from the city's park grounds. And while some celebrate the slow withdrawal of the essence of white supremacy in public, the substance of racism in Memphis nevertheless persists. And perhaps nowhere does the city’s legacy of racial inequality loom larger than it does over the city's health care disparities. According to Tennessee government documents, the state has had a long history of racial inequality when it comes to health with African Americans having higher rates of injury, premature death, infant mortality, and health risks like obesity and insufficient access to healthy foods. A longitudinal study investigating Memphis found the city suffered from a particularly serious problem with infant mortality.   “Sixty percent of the births are to African-American women in Shelby County, but nearly 80 percent of the infant deaths are among African-Americans,” the researchers wrote. ”Although there are some counties in Tennessee with higher infant mortality rates among African-Americans, an African-American baby born in Shelby County does have a relatively disadvantaged first year of life.”

We welcome Black History Month on our born day, and we set our intentions for this month.

After what seemed to be an interminable first month of the year, January is finally over and we welcome February after a full moon filled with purpose, set intentions and energy. Wear Your Voice turns four today(!) and our birthday is not only a celebration for us, but for our dearest readers too. While times are difficult and fraught, we have consistently been in awe of what our fellow creatives, activists and witches have been building and nurturing. There is no better time than the present to actualize projects which intend to help our Black and brown communities. Over here at WYV, we have been creating resources, developing ideas and opening up discussions which prioritize OUR voices — the voices of the marginalized, the voices of queer and trans BIPOC who have been systematically tokenized or ignored in favor of white cishet voices. This is truly a space for us, by us. We welcome Black History Month on our born day, and we set our intentions for this month. As managing editor, I am thrilled to say that this “Letter from the Editor” will be the first of many monthlies to come and it is only natural and fortuitous that the first edition of these letters should be today. This Black History Month we celebrate the Black queer women, femmes, trans and non binary people who are often left out of the discussions of Black History Month in favor of cishet male voices and historical figures. WYV is also celebrating Black women through our marketplace, with our Black activists and creatives shirts featuring some of history’s most groundbreaking women: Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Angela Davis, Octavia Butler, Lucy Parsons, Assata Shakur and many more. The intentions I am setting for Black History Month include making Wear Your Voice an even safer space for our readers as well as our writers. WYV would be nothing without the hundreds of voices we have been lucky to make space for on our site, and part of the integrity of our magazine means making sure our writers’ voices are not only nurtured, but safe. This being said, our editorial team has decided that we will no longer have a comment section on our site. Readers are welcome to engage with us on our social media platforms insteadAs an intersectional feminist publication, we are targeted by misogynists, racists, queerphobic people who simply show up to derail conversations and threaten our writers with bile. Nothing good can come from making space for that kind of energy and there is no such thing as a good debate with people who don’t consider us as equals or even deserving of humanity.

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