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  • Writer's pictureEbony Tomatoes Collective

editor's note *~ issue 19

dear readers,

in the last of the three interviews of this collection, "black study, community, media, and memory: an interview with taylor dews," by cecilia innis, they say, "ancestral memory comes in myriad forms–unbound by text, you can 'know' blackness by being black." knowledge of the black identity (and how that materializes in each black person's life) is forged through conversations that preserve and expand cultural memory. three members of the ebony tomatoes team—yumna, cecilia, and cheyenne—dedicated time and language to preserving this memory through the interview format.

we open this issue with yumna's piece, which she has been steadily developing over a number of weeks—"a nostalgic nightmare, a democratic dream on hold." hundreds of blue skies away from her native sudan, yumna reaches into the heart of her first home through the accounts of two sudanese american students. we move on to cheyenne's conversation with heather joseph, who is both an alumna of the first historically black sorority and the woman cheyenne describes as their "surrogate mom." in their piece "#blackgirlmagic to black woman magnificence," cheyenne explores the way sisterhood and community has evolved across generations of black femmes, particularly through a queer lens. we end on cecilia's intimate profile of her childhood friend taylor dews, a phd student at nyu with some poignant insights on the way black memory, media, and image move together. i had the pleasure of editing for yumna and cheyenne, while defne edited cecilia's piece with her usual gracefulness and care.

storytelling represents the instinct to approach what we love with curiosity. this affectionate inquisitiveness maintains culture across the time, grief, and the cruelty of human forgetfulness. stories require both the teller and the listener to soften and share a piece of themselves with someone else. the bravery required to undergo such vulnerability hardens history inside the amber of the centuries. this issue is evidence of what can be built between black folks when this vulnerability is embraced and shared freely. we have nothing to lose by remaining curious about our classmates, family members, and friends. we have nothing to lose by taking notes as they teach us about the shape of their lives and the dreams of their homeland. in fact, we all share a responsibility to let these stories wash over us and hold them in the soft caverns of our mouths. for if we do not remember, we are lost.

as always, thank you thank you and gracias to the entire ebony tomatoes team for bringing curiosity and love into these interviews. and thank you to the interviewees who trusted us with your laughter and your tears. we don't take them lightly, but we promise to hold them softly.


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