When does it stop?

I got onto Twitter tonight to be faced with yet another shooting. I don’t know if I should be happy these things are finally being publicized instead of shoved under the rug, or pissed off because of how they are being publicized. I’m seeing tweets about news reporters being afraid “black folks will act out”, and my friend being afraid. And honestly I can’t blame her. Not after everything I’ve seen in the news the last year or two.

What frustrates me is that this is yet another news item that will be turned into a “black vs white” thing by news casters, and some people in our communities. And yes, it might have been a hate crime (the police seem to think it was). But that’s not all it was.

These are our friends, our co-workers, are neighbors, our school mates. They are the people we sit beside on the bus, or play games with online. We talk to them, and enjoy their company, and work beside them. When this happens to them it is happening to us too, because they are part of our community!

This isn’t a black vs white thing. This isn’t just about race. This is about the safety of our children, EVERYONE’S children, in a country that perpetuates violence, jail, stigmas of being born poor, or ethnic, or anything other than a middle class white male.

When people take to the streets and demand justice it should be everyone in the community because this effects us all. If your neighbor doesn’t feel safe, if they don’t feel like they can trust the police, and their fellow neighbors, then that means you shouldn’t feel safe either. Not because they are going to get you, but because THAT’S YOUR NEIGHBOR! Treat them like it.

And I get that this is coming from a “privileged” white girl. I haven’t had to deal with a lot of the prejudice that others in our communities have. I have seen racism against me, but it is nothing on par to what some of my friends have seen. But women’s suffrage did not succeed because only women fought for it. They needed the help of their husbands, brothers, uncles and friends. Gay rights did not happen because only the LGBT community fought for them. They needed a community to stand beside them and help them.

So why aren’t we a community when it comes to race? Why are we white, black, latino, or whatever? Why can’t we just be one group, the american group, and stand up and say NO MORE! This is wrong. Treating anyone as less for any reason is wrong and we, as a community, won’t stand for it anymore.

You want to see the hate stop? You want to see the tension ease? You want to see the shootings, and extra jail time, and everything else stop? Stand up with your friends and co-workers. Stop making it “their problem” and realize that it’s yours too.

What happens to a society when 13% of your population has a 1-in-3 chance of going to prison? How is that helpful for the population as a whole? How does that grow the economy, or create jobs, or encourage the “american dream”? How does it make ANYONE feel safe if their friends and neighbors have a 1-in-3 shot of going to jail just because they are a little darker? How can anyone live with the fact that a black man is 21 times more likely to be shot be a police officer?

This is not okay! This needs to change. And the only way it will ever change is if we stop being black and white, and start being friends and neighbors.

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Influences of the Past

I was talking to a fellow author today, and we started discussing authors we know and love. There are a number of them I love at the moment. Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Elizabeth Hayden, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman… all fantastic authors with wonderful books that drew me in, and kept me reading. Kept me looking for the next book.

When I was younger my tried and true authors were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey, with a little bit of Mercedes Lackey thrown in. If you caught me with a book (which you often did) eight out of ten times it would be one of these authors.

I was a voracious reader. I have read about 80% of Piers Anthony’s, and Anne McCafferey’s books (both of who are/were prolific authors. Piers Anthony is still writing to this day, and is currently writing a book through his twitter feed.)

Thinking back, I realize that my consumption of these books had a great influence on my writing. Piers Anthony especially.

I once found myself in a discussion about his books on Reddit. Now, Reddit is an odd place, and  you can find some incredibly thought provoking commentary in there. You can also find a bunch of trolls just looking to get a rise out of people. That day I just happened to meet someone who honestly didn’t like Anthony, and when she saw my comment about what a good writer he was it pushed her buttons.

Apparently some people think of Anthony as “an old pervert”. Okay, I’ll give you one, but not the other.

Yes, Anthony writes about younger girls falling in love, flirting, sex, and centaurs and mermaids with their breasts showing. He even wrote an interesting book called “Pornucopia” which is exactly what it sounds like. Does that make him a pervert? I don’t think so. Writing erotica doesn’t make you a pervert any more then enjoying sex because, you know, it feels… GOOD!

Sex is a part of the human condition. So are the subjects of body image, love, relationships, gender equality, and age of consent. Issues that he addresses in many of his books.

I kept reading his novels because they spoke about the human condition without being preachy. He often addressed race, religion, beliefs, fear, politics, and social and political issues of all kinds, throughout many of his books. But he did it in a way that even a young adult could understand. And he did it without shoving his own personal beliefs on you (even if they were sometimes pretty obvious.)

In “Race Against Time” Piers Anthony deals with the complex idea of “conformity” and how that could cause the stagnation of society and innovation. Written in 1973, it still rings true during a time when political correctness is almost crammed down our throats. We are taught from childhood to sit down, follow directions, and learn and grow just like everyone else, and if you stand out your risk punishment for being a “disturbance in class”.

I wonder if “Race Against Time” would be publishable, through traditional means, in this decade, especially if Anthony were an unknown. Some have openly called it racist because he uses race as a device to accentuate “conformists” to “individualism”, but it was never meant to be about race.

When I say that Piers Anthony influenced my writing today, I mean that if you take the time to read between the lines of my stories you will find a deeper meaning. It isn’t just about a pretty leaf, or a scarecrow, or death. There is something behind it, some deeper meaning, even if that deeper meaning is “pay attention, ask questions, think for yourself.” Especially with my “Eversword Saga“.

I only hope that I can do half as well as Anthony, and others, did.