“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

It is with Adichie’s words in mind that I set out, soon after the November elections, to put together an online graphic narrative series to help amplify the voices and stories of the communities most at risk in this new and hostile reality. Seemingly overnight, we stepped back decades of hard-fought progress on issues of racism, bigotry, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism, and so much more. At this point, we are a nation so deeply divided, we can’t even agree on what is real or fake news. We are in a state of emergency. 

When I emailed the Illustrated PEN Editors Meg Lemke, Rob Kirby, and MariNaomi with the idea for this feature, they signed on instantly. Our hope is that the stories created for this series will help empower and inspire people to stand up and speak out and to begin to repair what has been so thoroughly broken. —Antonio Aiello