Speaking at the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016, Hillary Clinton had this to say about Trump supporters:

“I know there are only 60 days left to make our case — and don’t get complacent, don’t see the latest outrageous, offensive, inappropriate comment and think, well, he’s done this time. We are living in a volatile political environment. You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Well the short and simple answer that not everyone wants to hear is ‘Americans.’ The now infamous term “The basket of Deplorables” does not contain what many have been lead to believe. Over the last few weeks I had the absolute privilege to talk to many Americans who self-identify as part of the “basket of deplorables.” The results will warm your heart and open your mind, if you let it. Spoiler alert: They are not the monsters under your bed or in your closet.

Going into this project open-minded and prepared for any and all perspectives was vital. Assumptions would not serve anyone well when learning about these individuals or the group they belong to. We have witnessed the media coverage of actual Klu Klux Klan rallies and Black Lives Matter protests turn into full scale riots. We have seen what the main stream media and many powerful people wanted us as a nation and the world to believe was in this basket. But after everything that we have seen and heard, will we accept and take their word for it, or find out for ourselves? So step out into the world with us and meet some of these very real people. Everyday people from all walks of life that have experienced a slew of hateful discourse not only online, but in person as well. They were not all past the fear of those experiences yet and not all of them were without reservations about telling their stories. Ultimately what won out was an overwhelming common factor among all of them, they felt that they had been silenced and given no voice in American culture, society or politics.

They had come to identify with each other through the experiences of hate and censorship that had been imposed on them. Amazing people who had taken the term deplorable and turned it into a badge of honor. All from such different an astounding range of backgrounds and origins and the experience has truly changed me for the better. When this project started it was intended to be broad stroke articles covering types of people. After meeting all these amazing people from all over the country I couldn’t lump them in with each other even in singular articles because they were all so different. Each and every one deserved to have their voice heard.

What will follow in the coming weeks is a series of articles that hopefully do these amazing people justice. Intended to fully express their beliefs, intelligence and integrity through each article. Even though their votes were counted, their voices are still being silenced. They are still being unjustly labeled and ignored. The issues and the policies that are important to them are still being pushed to the back of the line. So rather than numbers on a screen or projections based on election night, hopefully you to truly get to know them on a deeper level. Who they are matters and it should matter to those that represent them in office or those that judge them without cause. Who they are Matters. They are American’s and they are an important part of who we all are.

Please follow the series of articles to come and perhaps this will open some hearts and minds. Our ultimate wish is to put a dent in this nationwide sense of the “others” — they are not so different from you and they have commonalities with every single one of you. They are deserving of respect and admiration as almost all human beings are. Please enjoy finally getting to hear the “Silent Majority.”