On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, America went to the ballot box and made its choice. On the heels of two successful terms of the country’s first president of color, who championed unity and inclusiveness, the US elected a president who ran on a platform of divisiveness and encouraged some of his most vocal supporters to boldly cheer on hatred. Time will tell, but Trump’s victory may prove to be society’s defeat.
The week following the election has been a pivotal time for us at soundoff to reflect on why we built this brand. We founded soundoff to ignite what was already smoldering underneath the surface: the need to find our individual, authentic voice. Through art and streetwear essentials, we set out to honor those who fought and spoke for more—for their voices to be heard, for your voice to be heard— because in many ways, we are in a similar predicament now as they were then.
In what has now proven ironic, yet perfect, timing our new releases for November – prophets and monarchs – take inspiration from icons who challenged us to free ourselves and see the reality of our imperfect cultural fabric. The voices of icons like Malcom X and Nina Simone ring truer than ever to many of us. They represent a call to action, to bond with our neighbors, friends, and family to share our stories and perspectives with one another. They inspire us to gather together in the fight to be heard.
America was founded and has evolved through conflict. Conflicts that haven’t always ended in perfect resolution and continue to force changes in how we view ourselves, our country, and our future. After the women’s and civil rights movements of the late 20th century, discrimination didn’t completely go away. It went to a plastic surgeon of sorts. We, as a country, went through a “facelift.”
The evolution of technology in the 21st century has revealed the “wrinkles”; social media has become today’s truth serum. Emoticons, comments to posts/memes, reposting, retweeting, regramming, and “live” video are all engineered controls that encourage us to reveal the best and the worst of our daily lives and opinions for the world to see. We share so much of our “voice” and perspectives now through digital devices, from all levels, that the gloves and masks have been pulled off, coming at the expense of real, person-to-person discussions of complex issues and differences – which are the only true way that solutions can be reached.
Taking a look back at the entire 13 months of the presidential election campaign and the recent post‐ election period, things don’t look that different from when Malcolm spoke, Nina sang, Harvey (Milk) ran for office, or Betty (Friedan) wrote about feminine mysticism. The heart of our society hasn’t changed as much as once perceived.
The Next Chapter
After what seemed like endless months of lopsided debates, polarizing commercials, and biased media onslaughts, the election is over. People of color, women, Muslims, and LGBTQ will now have to find their place of equal footing under the old red, white, and blue.
Walls will be built (figuratively and possibly literally). Protests will continue. Isolationism will deepen. But all is not lost. Once again, we find ourselves at a turning point in our history. We know that change needs to happen, and, collectively, we are finally acknowledging and standing in the face of modern-day inequality and injustice.
The new women’s and civil rights movement of the 21st century is at its dawn. This election and the actions taken by our government over the next four years will be the catalyst. This new movement will encompass people of all colors, religion, gender, and immigration status. With its immense size, market influence, and expertise in utilizing global‐reaching, digital technology and communications, the millennial generation will take the lead in redefining our country and shaping what it will look like for the next 20 to 50 years.
Already, the new Malcolms and Ninas are gathering, protesting in the streets, and engaging in grassroots efforts to restructure government in ways that better reflect our true society. As Nina herself once said: “We will shape and mold this country, or it will not be molded or shaped at all anymore. So, I don’t think you have a choice.”
The blood, pain, tears, and sweat that were shed to bring our country this far will not be in vain. Instead, they will give us the courage and show us the way to raise our voices again. It is our DNA, and it is our future.
written by: Daryl Sneed, Natasha Goburdhun, Drew Ferguson
edited by: Suzanne Claussen
art by: Bret Grafton
Nina Simone Art Disclaimer: Based on “Nina Simone: 1965” by Ron Kroon; used under Creative Commons license, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/legalcode. Subject to Creative Commons License, CC BY-SA 3.0 US, available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/