I suppose if I had an agent or publicist or manager of some sort, they would advise me against this post. It is, as an office-drone friend of mine calls it, something of a “career limiting maneuver.” It’s one thing to be political, but to be openly, passionately political, is to risk alienating readers.
But if I have to chose between losing the sale of a book or keeping my outrage under wraps, I’ll take the loss of a book every time. Because my outrage is righteous. It is justified. And being able to express it is a privilege not everyone has.
And I don’t depend on book sales to pay my bills, so there’s another privilege exposed.
I’m goddamned exhausted of how the deck is stacked. Even though it’s stacked in my favor, it makes me weary to the soul. I can’t even begin to imagine how exhausting it must be for people it’s stacked against!
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on.
Women are rising up and exposing an institutionalized sexism across a wide swath of fields: from science to writing and gaming. And a small but truly horrible vocal minority is reacting to this spotlight of shame like petulant toddlers.
An inherently racist police force is waging war to protect their right to kill black and brown folk without consequences. To make matters worse, way too many white folk either agree with them, or are complicit in their silence.
In short, while there are a number of brave and dedicated people standing up to make this world a better place, there remains this entrenched, scared, shitty streak of people who will fight to the death to remain just truly horrible people. And lumped in with that vanguard of horribleness is a far-too-large group of people who figure that none of this is their business.
Fuck. For all I know you’re one of those people. You know, the ones who think, “Well, I think equality is fine in theory, but I’d never say I’m a feminist because that sounds to aggressive.” Or maybe “You know, the police have a really hard job. We should calm down and wait until all the evidence is in before we jump to conclusions.” Or “My friend is 1/4 Cherokee and he’s not offended by the mascot so it shouldn’t be a problem.” Or simply, “It doesn’t affect me, so it’s not my problem.”
Damn but I hate that “not my problem.” Because there are a lot of things in this world that really aren’t our problem. Like how much a former TV star weighs. Or if some pop musician is back in rehab. Entire industries have been built around keeping you informed of shit that doesn’t matter.
But the big stuff? If you have an ounce of compassion? That should absolutely be your problem.
Two months ago, an unarmed 18yr old boy was executed by a person whose whole job is to protect and serve that community. At the absolute worst, Mike Brown was jaywalking. All other charges that were conjured against him as some form of justification have proven to be utter fabrications. And even so, none of them justify shooting someone to death in the street then leaving him there under the sun for over four hours. None. If you think there can possibly be any just reason for that level of response, I politely invite you to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut because you’re a bad person. Since then, the police there (and elsewhere) have continued a reign of terror, virtually unrestrained by any respect for laws or due process. The police involved in the situation in Ferguson, Missouri have boldly instituted a police state where they can lock people up with no charges, where they use people they’ve arrested as bargaining chips to get peaceful demonstrations to disperse, where they have indiscriminately used methods and armament that is banned by the Geneva convention. All to protect a murderer who is still being paid, and is being kept under guard. And who may never be charged for his crime.
You’re goddamned right I’m outraged. Because we shouldn’t tolerate this kind of bullshit in our country, against our own citizens. If it was happening somewhere else, folk would be mad as hell. It shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere. But somehow when it happens here, it’s not news. Because the deck is stacked, and to point that out undermines the system.
I’m so outraged that when there was another shooting in St. Louis last night, my immediate reaction was to distrust the police version of events.
Because if I’ve learned anything in the past two months, it’s that the police are not to be trusted.
And that’s dangerous. That’s why this is everyone’s problem. A police force that can’t be trusted, that has no moral authority, is a recipe for chaos.
It doesn’t even matter that my instincts were right on the most recent shooting: multiple witnesses contradict the police version, and the police not only didn’t bother to take any witness statements, they were heard joking about the shooting immediately after the fact.
Meanwhile, we have a systemic culture of violence towards women that is so ingrained that many of us don’t even see it. We just accept the narrative as “That’s the way it is.” Case in point, and a geeky one at that, the new CW series The Flash premiered this week to very positive reviews. As a long-time comic geek, I really enjoyed it. It took someone to point out that the hero’s whole motivation stems from his mother being murdered when he was eleven.
They “fridged” the mom. And I was so familiar with that element of his background I didn’t even question it. Would I have enjoyed the story just as much if his mother had been written out otherwise, if Barry’s motivation stemmed from something other than his mom’s death? Sure. Would it have been “cannon?” Nope, but there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, these same producers are responsible for Arrow which I also enjoy, but which is no less problematic. They have a long record of treating female characters poorly on their show. I’m hoping both series can do better this season.
I’m challenging all of you to do better.
Don’t sit by and let the bullshit slide. Show some genuine compassion and don’t punch down. Keep your eyes open. Question things that feel off, from language (bitch or pussy used as pejoratives, ghetto or thug used casually without recognizing the baggage those words have) to inherent injustices like disproportionate application of the law or threats of violence. Step up and call that shit out. Help lift people up. And help them lift others up.
Let’s say enough with the bullshit and the whiners trying to prop up their rightfully crumbling privilege.
And maybe, just maybe, we can help make this a better place.