I’ve been saddened. I’ve been outraged. I’ve talked to my friends, my family. I’ve shouted at them. But publically? I’ve been silent.
What could I say? Shouldn’t I be listening to those who were suffering? If I spoke out, would I be speaking over those whose voices we need to hear?
Besides, my blog is about writing, not politics. I told myself this wasn’t the space. It wasn’t my fight, I should stay out of the firing range.
But right now? My silence is tacitly supporting the status quo.
Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman. While the Black Lives Matter movement stood up, and I was silent.
Renisha McBride. Eric Garner. John Crawford. Michael Brown.
Vonderitt D. Myers Jr. Akai Gurley. Twelve-Year-Old Tamir Rice was murdered on a playground.
Antonio Martin. Freddie Gray. Sanda Bland. Elisha Walker, Islan Nettles, Kandis Kapri. The Charleston Nine. Philando Castille. Korryn Gaines. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. Iyanna Dior. George Floyd. Tony McDade. I can’t breath.
And I was silent.
Freedom Riders rode again.
The Ferguson protests, St. Louis. Baltimore.
No one arrested. Or, at least no one indicted. Or.. all acquitted.
Protests fill the sports games, the internet, the roads. The peaceful ones aren’t even covered. The ones that end up on TV are called out for being ‘the wrong place, the wrong time, the wrong way’. And I was silent.
Protesters in my city being tear-gassed with my state delegate in the front row, three miles away I could hear the sirens. And all I asked was for “everyone to stay safe.”
I could fill a book with the names. So many names. So many lives taken. And that’s only looking at the ones the media deigns to mention. The ones in the last 5 years alone. This problem isn’t new. So many places where police have escalated situations when they should have de-escalated. So many killed for the alleged suspicion of a crime whose fine is less than $1,000, in this nation of the free where ALL people are supposed to be created equal.
Where all people are supposed to be valued.
Where Your Very Being Is Politicized
Any life experience outside of the default is seen as ‘political’.
When I talk about the unique issues that women face? Well, “women’s issues” are seen as political.
When black people talk about the unique issues they face? That’s political.
When black women talk about the unique issues they face? Being both black and female? That’s extra-political.
Black lives matter. The black men. The black women. The black trans community. The black LGBTQA+ community. The black children.
All of them.
But. This is a writing blog.
If you look at my past posts, you’ll see me talking about ways to add diversity to your novels. To make sure you’re not stereotyping or parodying the people you want to represent. The people you should be representing.
- Diversity of Race
- Diversity of gender and orientation
- Diversity of class
- Diversity of mental health condition
No matter where or when you go in history, life has never been as homogeneous as the history books try to insinuate. Why should it be?
And? The ruling class has never been equitable with the enforcement of their laws — be they just or not.
Now, genre fiction, science-fiction and fantasy, is a space for exploring the worst possible futures that could lay ahead, if we stay on this path. As like Ebenezer Scrooge, we see the shadows of what might be. And they loom dark.
Genre fiction is also a place to explore the worlds that could have been, if we had been better: more welcoming, more inclusive, more just. It can show the bright future, of what could be if we rise to our better natures. It can show a possible roadmap forward. Genre fiction can show hope.
What Do We Do?
If you’re in the majority culture? In this case, if you’re white. It’s on you to reach out and learn about other cultures, other experiences, the black American experience. Do your research. Don’t assume you can lean on someone of the culture you wish to learn about, your black friends and family, and make them do the heavy lifting for you. They’ve got enough of their shoulders already.
There’s a whole world out there, just as entitled to the idealized versions of the freedom, justice, and liberty we were all promised.
It’s past time to me to speak out, and stand up, and fight for it.