Editor-in-Chief of L.A. STYLE Magazine, Christine Andreu, speaks on taking responsibility, life experiences, and walking in her purpose.
Ruby McAuliffe: How has being a woman of color impacted where you are today?
Christine Andreu: Well, I discovered healing through those experiences. I learned that it takes place in two parts. The first part is having a reconciliation with yourself. I understood and accepted that I was a Latina living in the South because my father was in the military. I was very aware that I was the Brown girl in the room. Granted, the children were not kind, and I had a really hard time enjoying life in South Carolina; but I had to come to terms with the reality that a lot of people in the South were born and raised in an environment where they didn’t know anything different. So, I almost had to forgive them for not knowing that there was a way to coexist with love and peace and acceptance.
I also had to recognize what I’m responsible for. We can take responsibility for where we’re at and where the world is, and instead of pointing blame, ask yourself, “What can I do?” For me, it was owning the times when I could have said something to support a better outcome, but didn’t because I was just pissed off. So, how many times could I have made a comment that could have supported someone in a loving way as opposed to a hostile way? Because I think when you’re at a place of anger, you’re not coming from a place of love, and there is no space for forgiveness. So, for me, my healing, in regards to my skin color, came from forgiveness and realizing that without forgiveness, there is no space for people to come out of their hatred.
Ruby McAuliffe: You are also a 20-year Civil Affairs Officer and a Major in the U.S. Army. Has your service influenced your worldview?
Christine Andreu: When I graduated from high school, I joined the military immediately because I wanted to be a journalist, and I saw an opportunity to become a journalist for the military and to have all of my college paid for. That was in 1999, before there was a lot of noise and world politics and a lot of things happening in the Middle East. Fast forward a bit to 2003, I was 20 years old. I was a sophomore in college and I got deployed to Iraq for 13 months. So, I turned 21 in Iraq. I call that my coming of age because that’s where my eyes were opened.
Being in the service, I was always aware of the fact that I was a woman and a minority. I remember walking into a room and thinking, “Okay, I’m setting precedents.” So, I took all of those experiences really seriously. I wanted people to know that my work stood for itself, and I was a professional. One of my most colorful memories is when I was in Afghanistan. I went out on the mission in full uniform. I had two weapons, my M9 and my M16, and I had a headscarf — and I looked Middle Eastern. I remember people looking at me as though I was an alien in the room. I was an anomaly. But I felt the energy of showing them what it looks like to have a woman in the room. I’m sure it was not their normal, but I remember thinking, “I wonder when this will happen again?” and, “I hope they can acknowledge that I have just as much of a brain as they do.”
When I came back from Iraq in 2004, I was in college, and I remember looking around and thinking, “I am not where my peers are.” So, I ended up graduating on the fast track because they hadn’t been to Iraq. They didn’t know how a third world country existed or how people were dying for education or even what was at stake to vote. I experienced people dying, literally, just to vote. I had such a spectrum of experiences. I was in the press room when we caught Saddam Hussein. I saw the raw, original footage. I took the media to see Saddam Hussein’s sons’ bodies, when the whole world didn’t believe we had killed them. When you experience so many different types of living, it helps build an entirely different worldview. That’s why I call it my coming of age. I had seen, I had my own mission, and it was also a reminder of the responsibility we have to the world.
The first is to have them ask, “What can I take responsibility for?” and [know that] it’s not about casting blame. It’s about understanding that we all affect everybody. Maybe we’re a drop in the ocean, but accumulated all together, we are the ocean.
Ruby McAuliffe: It’s clear that your background, your military experience, the joy you find in different cultures, and more has given you a heart for justice. What’s the driving force behind that?
Christine Andreu: That’s a great question. Well, where there is injustice, we are called to bring the banner of love. There, we can recreate a future full of light and love without all of that darkness — and I believe we can achieve that.
Ruby McAuliffe: How is that banner of love being portrayed in L.A. STYLE Magazine’s “Color is Beautiful” issue?
Christine Andreu: One of L.A. STYLE Magazine’s visions is to be diverse and celebrate people from all walks of life. So, we are celebrating diversity in this issue, and it’s a perfect alignment of our beliefs — spreading light and love.
It’s our desire that this magazine would support people who have not considered the fact that Black Lives Matter, and that it’s a cause that we should have all dropped everything for. Yes, All Lives Matter, but the ones that especially matter are the ones that are hurting right now. It’s our desire that people across the United States would be able to relate to the stories and the beautiful talent that hasn’t been honored in the past as it should have been. That’s how we are portraying that banner of love.
Ruby McAuliffe: I love how you are taking a stand through your publication. It’s something not all media spaces are doing, but should be, as the media holds so much power.
Christine Andreu: Absolutely. It’s important because, in the media space, people of color are not [being] represented as they should. We’re just a small piece of the puzzle, but we’re hoping that by shedding light and dedicating an entire issue to these talented artists, activists, and thought leaders, people realize there are people of all cultures and of all different kinds of lifestyles; and in the media space, we should be just as colorful as our country is.
Ruby McAuliffe: What’s one key message you want to leave readers with?
Christine Andreu: The first is to have them ask, “What can I take responsibility for?” and [know that] it’s not about casting blame. It’s about understanding that we all affect everybody. Maybe we’re a drop in the ocean, but accumulated all together, we are the ocean.
The next deals with people often going through the motions and feeling like life is just happening to them. But life doesn’t happen to you; it happens for you. You get to choose the trajectory your life goes in. Yes, some things will happen that might sway you. You might get lemons and have to make some lemonade, but there are choices you get to make.
Lastly, November 2020, will mark my 21st year of service, and through it all, it’s always been an act of service. So, I challenge people to answer this question: How are you serving your community? How are you instilling the importance of service in your family and within your children? What are you doing to make our country amazing? After all, actions speak louder than words.
Read about other strong women like Christine here
Check out Freedom for Fighters which helps Women Veterans here