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Op-ed

One Does Not Represent All — The Response to #AffinityMagisOverParty

I applied to Affinity Magazine on Feb. 27, 2017. On Mar. 1, 2017, I received the email of my acceptance. As an aspiring writer, there is nothing more satisfying than achieving success of any sort. The thought of officially being published to a magazine site was—and still is—a pleasing one. There aren’t many opportunities like this for teenagers. It’s no secret that our voices are marginalized, and even moreso if you don’t fit the hetero-white role. To be able to use this platform as a way to proliferate our voices, bluntly, there’s nothing quite like this.

When the surplus of accepted writers flooded the Affinity Productivity Group—me included—there was an electrifying air of excitement. Everyone was extremely happy to be given this role, and everyone wanted to prove themselves to both each other and the world. Introductions and article ideas flooded the chat, to the point where my phone began to lag from the incessant notifications.

And yet, I was happy, because I was given a chance to let my voice be heard. Everybody at the Affinity Team was given a chance to voice their political opinions, their societal opinions, or even just their regular everyday opinions. It doesn’t matter what type; at the end of the day, they are personal opinions, and my advice would be to treat them as such.

Everyone at the Affinity Team doesn’t agree—and the events that happened last night further showed me that—so I’d like to ask that everyone stop lumping us together.

While we are an organization, there are plenty of things that I personally would object to, and many articles that even I have scoffed at. We at the Affinity Team have a lot of work to do, and I will be getting to that—but you outside viewers should please view each article as a standalone, and not as a representation of each staff member.

That brings me to the events of last night. Our Editor in Chief, Evelyn Atieno, used The Affinity Mag Twitter account as a personal account before turning it into the Affinity Magazine account. Her tweets from 2012 were brought to light, something that nobody in the Affinity Team knew about—and they were absolutely terrible, in so many different ways. I can’t even begin to explain the amount of sadness and disgust I felt from viewing such words, tweeted by none-other-than the girl who hired me for this position. And as a writer for the Affinity Team, I—and the other writers in the organization—was placed in a rather tough spot.

Evelyn Atieno does not represent us, and her tweets do not represent the values that we hold on the Affinity Team.

We would publicly like to make that known, right here and right now. We would respectfully like to be taken out of that situation, because it’s frankly unfair to lump us together with dreadful tweets that we had no knowledge of. If you are upset with Evelyn—as many are—then you have every right to be. But, please, do not associate the writers at the Affinity Magazine with any of this. We are deeply troubled by this, and we apologize to anyone that was attacked or offended by Evelyn’s words.

Those at the Affinity Team are individuals, with different dreams and different goals in life. Last night was a wake-up call for many of us. We realized that a growing number of viewers are losing respect for us, and I personally don’t want to sweep that under the carpet. We are addressing each other and calling out the mistakes that we’ve made in the past, such as the problematic and unprofessional articles that have been posted, as well as the unfair treatment that certain writers may have felt. We are also going to work on editing; remember that we are still only teenagers, and we are still learning every day.

I believe in the Affinity Magazine. I believe that we can learn and grow from this experience, and that we can be a good representation and inspiration for starry-eyed teenagers around the world. We are going to do better—and, hopefully, you will all give us a clean slate to do so.

Thank you.

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Jalen M. Brown
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Jalen is a 16-year-old African-American Writer, Wannabe-YouTuber, and Social Activist from Atlanta, Georgia. His likes include eating, sleeping, and complaining; for him, that's the holy trinity. His dislikes range from a variety of things, from Donald J. Trump to mayonnaise — and math, but that's a given. A dreamer at heart, Jalen has a plethora of career goals, but his main goal is to move to New York City after high-school and maintain a fulfilling career in creative writing.

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