I haven't been quite bloggy these past few weeks.
It's hard to admit, it's weird to admit.
I remember sitting and watching the live stream of Michael Brown's verdict and then the aftermath of these two non-indictments (Michael Brown's and Eric Garner's). It's odd because in just over a week, I've felt more frustrated, angry, and hopeless than I ever thought possible - which is a privilege of my Indian ethnicity, because I can feel frustrated instead of afraid.
I have seen one of my friends - usually so happy and bubbly - descend into something dark and hopeless. In her words, "I am hurting. I hurt so fucking bad right now.'
And I've been exercising self-care. I needed time to heal, time to deal with it all, and - recently - to realize what my place is in this discussion. Do I have a place?
It's a myth that non-blacks and non-Hispanics have no place in this dialogue on racism. One of my favorite quotes of all time has guided my action:
Let me reiterate: whites, Asians, Native Americans, all other races, have a place in this dialogue, namely, to acknowledge the privilege that comes with not being perceived as a threat everywhere we go and then to work against the systems that don't afford that privilege to other people. Non-whites have their own stereotypes to deal with, which is a whole 'nother issue.
It sucks. We don't like acknowledging our privileges and we justify the privileges we have by blaming the victims, that they 'deserve it' in some way or another. Once they speak these harsh truths against us, we say, "How about you stop committing crimes?" or other ignorant and racist remarks, pushing ourselves further into our privileges.
Firstly, we must come to terms with our privilege. Accept that it exists, realize that no one is blaming us for it, but understand that it exists.
The media portrays blacks and Hispanics as looters, threats, and criminals - and when a black or brown person succeeds, it is in spite of their race, their race 'doesn't hold them back,' as if being successful is not a black or brown thing to do. Their race has been erased.
The system is not fair or just (I've done so much research on this - I didn't want it to be true - but quite simply, it is true; if you want, I can talk to you one-on-one about it).
With what little influence I have, I'm on my knees and begging you, please, change this.
NO MORE DEAD INNOCENTS. No more corpses due to our racialized fears. No more seeing people as threats simply due to their race. We are KILLING people, children and parents and loved ones, simply due to our racialized fears! We are murdering people and getting away with it.
Most of those who are reading this blog are writers. We are WRITERS. Many of us are YA writers - which is great, since I have more hope for today's children to solve race problems than today's adults to solve them. Use the power of the pen, use what amazing gifts you have. I am begging
you. Our 'normalization' of one race, one gender, one sexuality, one religion, same physical/mental ability, etc. is destroying us. Our silence is murder, for our silence normalizes oppression.
Please please please please
, don't ignore this blog post, don't ignore this message.
Diversity is not political - and if it is, that's sad. Since when did championing for human rights ever become politicized? Fear of being 'political' has led us to quiet our tongues (we are writers). Few of us speak about these issues because no one wants to be labeled as a 'liberal' or a 'Democrat'. Is anyone not disgusted by this? Since when did empathy become a stance?
Empathy and free speech are our fundamental tools of trade! How can we have lost them? Since we create writing that enters into mass media, we must responsibly portray the subjects of our novels in a realistic way and fight against the normalization of diversity-less communities or stereotype-riddled character tropes.
Our silence is murder.
It'd be foolish to ignore the cultural impacts our words have - and how that relates to the cycle of racism and oppression. The habitual instinct to make every character white since it is 'normal' or a 'blank slate' ties in directly with the lack of nuance in society's perception of people of color. To make a character colored, for example, is a 'big deal'. To make them have problems that don't relate to their race: an even bigger deal (although, since many colored characters' biggest problems deal with their race, doesn't that prove that racism isn't over? Maybe we do need more race-dealing novels).
We have to change the portrayal of minority groups.
(I use the word 'minority' quite ironically, since globally, many Western minorities are in fact majorities.)
We are allies, not leaders. Remember to make space for those writers who have dealt with these issues: they know more about it then the rest. For the writers who have dealt with these issues: please, take space. No matter who you offend with your truths, take space.
I can't sit here and do nothing anymore. I'm sick and tired of it. With the little influence I have, I'm begging and I'm going to try and be an ally.
I'm asking whoever wishes, minorities and majorities, to join me in a pact to write with an active goal for diversity:
The Pact to Write Inclusively:
1) actively write, edit, and revise to challenge stereotypes that may be present in my writing
2) actively work against the normalization of a single identity
3) actively work towards the normalization of diversity
This does NOT mean every single character in your novel has to be a minority at ALL! That would be the erasure of the white race (which is not our intention). It doesn't even mean most or any of your characters have to be minorities. It just means you will work towards diversity however you choose to interpret that.
This is a solid pact. Make sure you know what you're signing up for - to actively work towards the three objectives. Meaning, to look for the generalizations in your writing and then to work against it.
Below will be the symbol of everyone on the pact. I've been searching for universal and simple signs for inclusion and diversity; the circle seems to pop up very often.
A circle of inclusion will be our symbol.
Once can easily, with some picture manipulating tools, overlay it on top of their Twitter/Facebook icons:
If you need help overlaying the pact onto your Twitter/Facebook icon, PLEASE TELL ME! Send me an email SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com with your picture attached; I shall send you back the edited one :)
|For example, mine! (Dang, I really should change my icon. So unprofessional! Ah well.)|
If you have a blog/Twitter account, sign the pact by clicking that little blue 'Add your link' button at the bottom of this post. It's a list thing. It'll be the master list of pact-signers. I purposely made the links public: part of working towards diversity is being open about working towards it. Seriously, there's no pressure for you to sign the pact - it's your own will and no one will judge you (at least, the non-crazy people won't).
If you've signed, please please spread the word! Tweet with #WriteInclusively about what writing inclusively means to you, why it's important, how it relates with Ferguson and Eric Garner, and the power of writing to change the world. Why did you decide (if you decided) to take this pact?
Write blog posts about this pact and why you decided to take it.
This is what I came up with. This is what I can do at this stage of my life. All I know is, I'm done doing nothing or only ranting on Twitter. I'm sick of ranting. Everyone rants. I want action.
On a separate but related note, I also would like guest posts on the intersection of diversity and writing from writers of underrepresented identities, no matter what that identity is. If you have a good idea for a post and want to guest post, please send me an email (SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com) about your possible post. To writers that do not identify with underrepresented identities, it's time to simply read the posts. Make space instead of take space.
It's time we put our money where our mouth is. Too many promises have been made.
If you have anything to add to the pact, any ideas you think I've not incorporated, please comment and tell me! But please please, we're begging you, be an ally. Work in solidarity. Silence is murder, and people can't breathe.
The Pact to Write Inclusively and the List: