Monday, October 2, 2017

We interrupt your regularly scheduled book promotion... explain why racism is bad..., wait to explain how gun control might actually help stop mass shootings..., wait to mourn the loss of Tom Petty--No, wait, he's still alive--to send healing thoughts to--No, wait, he's dead...

Oh, f@&k it. Today (Monday) can take a long walk off a short pier.

But seriously, this week was supposed to be about getting psyched for my book launch, and my upcoming blog tour... And then, I realized that I really needed to say something about how important the #takeaknee movement was. Then, this morning happened and... well, it's kind of hard to know where to start.

My home country is going to hell in a handbasket and there is a small handed, toupeed, orangutan at the helm, shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" all the while.

So, where do I begin? Something needs to be said because... well, I can't abide what's happening in silence. Many people are speaking up, and doing so more eloquently and insightfully than I will manage, but I can't keep quiet, lest anyone think that I don't think there's anything wrong. I don't have much of a platform, but what little platform I have I will use to try to help spread words of sanity. And some of you will say, "But, Virginia, you're a fantasy writer, stick to writing fiction, don't alienate potential readers by getting political." To which I say, "If you think that my fiction doesn't get political I think you must not have read it, and if you think that artists need to be quiet during political turmoil, then you don't know what art's true purpose is."

When I see the world around me turning into a dystopia of fantastical proportions, it is my duty to speak up and do all I can to steer us clear of the same fate as my fictional characters.

There's so much to cover though, that it's a bit overwhelming.

So here we go. Social justice bullet points. This is what the world has come to.

  • Racism: Let's be clear here, racism in the United States is pervasive and systemic and has been so for as long as people of European descent have been present there. But, ignoring the past six hundred years, let's just focus on now. If you don't believe that the United States is currently suffering from pervasive, systemic racism then you are either not paying attention, are willfully ignorant, or you don't understand the definition of racism. If you are being willfully ignorant then there isn't much hope for you, but if you simply haven't taken a good look around, or you don't understand what racism is then there is still hope.

    Let's talk about what racism is then. Because you may be one of the people who looks around and says, "What do you mean, Virginia? It's not like the KKK is lurking around every corner and lynching people left, right, and center. That kind of thing isn't allowed anymore. I don't even know any racists, so what can you possibly be talking about?" There are lots of people who wonder the same thing, so let me explain. Racism isn't just lynching, burning crosses, and using the n word. (Though sadly, that kind of thing is making a comeback, so keep an eye out for that bullshit too.) No, racism is also: not hiring someone because of the color of their skin, saying sentences that start with the words, "but black people...," dismissing violence against black people as being somehow deserved, defending cops who kill unarmed black people, saying "all lives matter" when someone tries to say "black lives matter," not listening/believing when numerous people of color share their experiences with you, and making any generalizations about an entire minority group whether they are positive or negative. (Yes, that's right, saying that Asians are good at math, or that black people have great rhythm is racist. Sorry.) This is just a tiny portion of the kinds of things that make up everyday racism, and we haven't even touched on how skewed the justice system is. Consider for a moment how many unarmed black people have been killed in the past few years by police officers, and then consider how many of those police officers have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If you want to read up on it, I suggest checking out articles written by Shaun King.
  • #TakeaKnee -- For all the reasons listed above and far more, a number of athletes lately have been peacefully protesting the pervasive racism in the US, as well as the lack of justice, by kneeling during the national anthem. Ignoring the fact that kneeling is actually a sign of respect and that these athletes are all well within their constitutional rights to protest this way, a bunch of angry white folks (including the angry white folk in chief) have been outraged by this act. If you agree with the angry white folks, you might take a moment to consider the fact that thousands of veterans have taken to social media to side with the #takeaknee movement because:

    "As a combat vet, I fought Nazis of WWII. Today I #takeaknee, once more, in solidarity w/my brothers&sisters still fighting 4 equality&justice." (Quote from Norman Lear on Twitter.) In other words, plenty of people who fought for American freedom take offense at all the people trying to quash people's right to peacefully protest severe injustice.

    As Randi Mayem Singer wrote (also on twitter) "Rosa Parks was not protesting the bus. Gandhi was not protesting the food. Players are not protesting the anthem. It's the injustice, stupid."

    So, yeah, for football fans who are getting all up in arms, or sports fans in general now that the movement is spreading, no it's not about sports, and yes, this is the time and place to protest the injustice. It's about raising awareness and making people discuss and acknowledge what's happening. How many football fans were thinking about racial inequality before players started taking a knee during the anthem? A tiny fraction of the ones discussing it now I can assure you.
  • Gun control -- Just another mass shooting in the US, NBD. Wait, WTF? 58 people (and counting) dying at the hands of an American terrorist should not be something that people just shrug off. It is also a big fat reason to talk about gun control, no matter how much you hate that. Yes, it's a tragedy. Yes, it makes me unspeakably sad. I know people in Las Vegas. I know people who are into the music scene in Las Vegas. Luckily, all of the people that I know are safe. The whole thing is terrifying and awful, and I cannot fathom how terrible it must be for all of the survivors, and the families and friends of the fallen. That does not mean that we shouldn't talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. In fact, it is a very good reason to talk about how we could possibly prevent it from happening again. That isn't politicizing a tragedy, that is trying to react to a tragedy with productive legislation that might stop it from ever happening again. I'm not saying "Get rid of all the guns!" Almost no one is saying that. Most people are just saying, "It's time to talk about how to keep assault rifles and automatic weapons out of the hands of people who might use them to mow down a crowd of people." That is an important conversation to have. I can't believe I have to say that to people.
  • Tom Petty: It makes me sad when humans die, including singers. However, I'm far more
    concerned with the 58 lives lost to an American terrorist than I am about the one famous guy.
I wanted to talk about Puerto Rico, and helping out, and not letting the buffoon in chief stand by while people die, but... but that's all the energy I have for the day. I spent today (and most of the past week, and let's face it every day since November) being horrified, shocked, sad, outraged... and I simply don't have much left. I apologize for all the things I've left out, and for however much of this is poorly written, and I imagine a lot of it is, but it's all I can do for now. 

No. Wait. I can do one more thing.

I'd like to ask a favor. Just a little one. As you go about your life this week, please, be kind to other people. Be kind to the people you love, and be kind to the people you don't even know. We need more kindess in the world, and small things matter. Smile at people. Say hi. Hug. Just, you know.... Be nice. Thank you. I appreciate you.

I'll be back later in the week to talk about my book and stuff.

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