The FADER is ostensibly a music magazine, but one that knows examining music can be a way to examine the whole world. So ahead of this year’s presidential election, we devoted an issue to American culture. With it, we didn’t expect to comprehensively tackle our nation’s political landscape. Instead, we asked people, both regular and exceptional: How do you make a life in America? Then we plotted their answers across chapters that follow the cycle of a life — from childhood to adulthood to death, then back to birth.
In childhood, we meet twin brothers in Baltimore, high schoolers in four states, and music collectives in Western Mass and L.A., all trying to carve out a place for themselves that doesn’t suck. In an op-ed, Michelle Obama makes a case for that generation to pursue college. In adulthood, we speak with Serena Williams about living a good life as a great athlete, then meet a punk spirit navigating the health care system, a film director confronting doubt, a creative prodigy fighting fires by day, a new homeowner coming to terms with the flag on his porch, and a retired offensive tackle who’s looking for better ways to deal with pain. Finally, we visit Baton Rouge to learn about what it takes to hold police responsible, and Miami to meet some brand new citizens.
There are blind spots on this tour — no accounts from veterans, or workers over 65, or home health care workers, or Native Americans who are fighting in the midwest for land. But throughout the stories we tell, there are signs of the larger forces that are shaping this country now, both good and bad: racism, climate change, immigration, an opioid crisis, debt, and protest. And at the center of all of them are people who are finding ways to build America better, and to cope.
All of the America Issue’s stories will be published on Tuesday, October 4, and you can order a physical copy now. For a preview of what’s to come, read Michelle Obama on college, Kiese Laymon on the pledge of allegiance, and Ty Defoe on two-spirit identity and Native American heritage.
Photography by Matthew Avignone, Rose Marie Cromwell, Rakeem Cunningham, Todd Diederich, Diamond Dixon, Alexandra Gavillet, Danny Gurung, Myles Loftin, Molly Matalon, Paul McLaren, Frances Tyska, and Alex Welsh.