Protesters gather across the river from Trump Tower on the night of November 9. Credit: Sarah K. Joyce

Now that two mornings have passed, it’s safe to say we aren’t going to wake up from this nightmare. Among the angry, despairing reactions to Trump’s victory, I keep seeing an impulse to blame it on progressives’ failure to empathize with his supporters. Because many of us in “blue” enclaves never have to deal with “red” voters, the thinking goes, we’re unable to understand the source of their values—and thus we can’t do the hard work of directly confronting those values we find toxic.

There’s some merit to this—white people especially have largely sorted themselves into red and blue districts. But I reject the notion that blue enclaves—whose populations embody a huge variety of views, backgrounds, classes, and identities—are somehow “bubbles” that progressives need to step outside in order to grasp the “real America.” Rather it’s the people in red zones—the overwhelmingly white areas that voted overwhelmingly for Trump—who need to leave their bubbles and accept the diversity and complexity of our country.

Can blue-city folks help this process along? Of course, and we’d better. But our responsibility to empathize with the values of the opposition ends when those values lead to harm for others.

If you know I’m the Reader‘s music editor, you may be wondering why you’re getting this from me. Many if not most forms of contemporary music—house, punk, hip-hop, folk, jazz, metal, and more—have long histories of resisting oppression and creating nurturing spaces for marginalized communities. Those spaces are suddenly, tragically more important with Trump in charge.

I’m writing to make explicit that the Reader‘s platform has always been and will continue to be open to those communities—women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Muslims and other persecuted religious minorities, the disabled, the poor. Your stories are not only welcome here but also necessary, and not just because they can lend strength to the vulnerable. Though distribution of the Reader‘s print edition is confined to one of the bluest cities in the country, the Internet is everywhere—and every such story we publish has the potential to be the dart that bursts someone’s bubble of unexamined or unchallenged privilege.

This is a permanent call for story pitches, then—for music-related stories that speak to and about those Chicagoans (and Americans) most in need of support and respect in the dark years to come. I especially encourage pitches from writers who belong to the communities in question—women, people of color, LGBTQ people, et cetera—but any writer with a generous heart can help.

To the folks who already work with me: None of this is intended as a dismissal of the wonderful work you’ve done and will surely continue to do. I think you’ll agree, though, that we need all the help we can get. Interested parties can reach me at Please begin your subject line with the word “pitch.” I’ll do my best to reply to everyone. And yes, I do pay.

Philip Montoro

Philip Montoro has been an editorial employee of the Reader since 1996 and its music editor since 2004. Pieces he has edited have appeared in Da Capo’s annual Best Music Writing anthologies in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. He shared two Lisagor Awards in 2019 for a story on gospel pioneer Lou Della Evans-Reid and another in 2021 for Leor Galil's history of Neo, and he’s also split three national awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia: one for multimedia in 2019 for his work on the TRiiBE collaboration the Block Beat, and two (in 2020 and 2022) for editing the music writing of Reader staffer Leor Galil. Philip has played scrap metal in Lozenge, drummed with the Disasters, the Afflictions, and Brilliant Pebbles, and sung for the White Outs. He wrote the column Beer and Metal from 2012 till 2015, and hopes to do so again one day. You can also follow him on Twitter.