What is Culturework?

Simply put, Culturework is an independent, nonprofit art and literary magazine.   More broadly, it is intended to serve as a creative hub for artists confronting issues related to social inequality and culture.

The inspiration for Culturework came from observing conversations about the current state of racial inequality in the US. Dialogue is frequently offered, especially in the context of race, as a way to heal oppression’s wounds, but because of the ways systemic oppression often very literally separates those with privilege and those without, seldom does there exist a safe place where conversation can happen. Culturework is dedicated not only to dialogue but also to giving once-silenced voices a place to speak uninterrupted.

Another idea central to Culturework’s mission is that social justice is not possible without cultural change. The problem of racism, for example, is not simply that white people are cruel to people of color; though this cruelty constitutes a profound, unhealed tear in the fabric of humanity, the system of white supremacy cannot be dismantled by just replacing cruelty with kindness. The rotten core concealed at the center of the problem is that white-dominated American culture is organized to necessitate someone being at the bottom.   No one could have phrased it better than James Baldwin when he said, “The question the white population of this country has got to ask itself is why it was necessary to have a n****r in the first place.” In the decades since he spoke those words, that challenge has not been undertaken, nor have we truly begun to recognize the ways that this kind of analysis can also be fruitful in the context of other kinds of oppression. Culturework exists to interrogate privilege and accept these kinds of challenges. It is a laboratory of ideas where the apparatuses of oppression can be securely detonated, the void left behind filled with new possibilities.

As we embark on this project, even in this climate of increasing fear and violence, we do so with a deep sense of optimism. Though it is difficult to see unless you’re looking, culture is not like seawater in which we are suspended like unwitting plankton. Despite its messiness, when we are equipped with an understanding of its dynamics, culture is humanity’s strongest and most durable building material.

In that vision, Culturework invites any work that addresses a facet of this broad vision. Send us your pieces that center cultural exchange, accountability, empowerment, resilience. Send us art that processes historical trauma and examines flaws in the dominant culture. Help us envision a more inclusive, vibrantly connected world so that it’s easier to start making it a reality.

If you are interested in contributing to Culturework’s next issue, please check out our submit page for more detailed instructions.