Writing Tip: Pick Your Theme

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In an attempt to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, I’m once more sharing a writing tip I’ve learned while drafting…

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MK’s Book Reviews: Hillbilly Elegy

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I consider myself a pretty well-read, open-minded person. I travel; I read; I surround myself with people who are different from me. But every once in a while, a book comes along that shows me a brand new perspective…

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“But I’m NOT Racist!” (or, Show, Don’t Tell)

(This isn’t going to become a political blog, I swear. But I’m in the “angry” stage of grief right now, and so I’m using my words to help get it out.)

I read an article yesterday written by a young Republican woman who, because she voted for Trump, felt the need to clarify that she’s not racist. She finds it unfair that people are now accusing her of being one.

This young woman appears to not yet have approved the (respectful) comment I left on her blog (perhaps she just hasn’t gotten around for it, but I do find it interesting how some people are advocate defenders of free speech until said free speech bothers them), but it’s her blog so she can leave off my comment if it upsets her.

Because I suspect it does.

Here is what I’d like to say to that young woman:

Firstly, there’s something wrong about waking up the day after an election and have so many people feeling the need to cry “But I’m NOT racist!”

Secondly, I don’t know you, but I tend to believe you when you say you, personally, are not racist. Or misogynist, or homophobic, or Islamaphobic. But you’ve supported someone who is, or even if he himself truly isn’t those things at his core (ha), he is someone who built his campaign partly by appealing to those who are.

You cannot deny, unless you are supremely ignorant, that Trump has given more of a voice to the neo-Nazis, to misogynists, to people who believe all Muslims are terrorists, to people who have no respect for the LGBT community (you don’t have to go any further than his VP pick for that).

You may be none of these things. But with your vote, you have shown yourself to be complicit in these things.

In other words, you are not racist. But you’ve empowered and enabled racism.

That is an undeniable fact.

I’m sorry if that makes you uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to look inside yourself and see that truth, which why I suspect we have this rash of articles coming out. (And others, like this one, refuting that; Scalzi’s Cinemax metaphor is perhaps my favorite.)

I’m terrified for the future of our country: for the marginalized, for the environment, for the economy, and for so many more things. I’m terrified for what a Trump presidency means for the world  (this article paints several cheerful possibilities).

This election is not like others. It’s no longer a matter of just a “difference of opinion.”

You voted for Trump; that was your right.

You also voted to empower racism.

So stop crying out that you’re not a racist. Either own it, or put your money where your mouth is, and (now that it’s too late to take your vote back) do something about it.

Volunteer or donate to help at-risk LGBT youth. Educate those around you who don’t know people outside their own race or religion. When women accuse men of rape and sexual assault, believe them and help make their voices heard. (Here’s an awesome list of more stuff you can do to help.)

And perhaps most importantly, in two years, vote those congressmen who have promoted a racist, misogynist, Islamaphobic, homophobic agenda out of office.

Don’t tell us you’re not a racist. Show us.

The Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve been having trouble getting anything done–work, writing, reading, anything–since Wednesday morning.

I don’t really have the words for how sickened I feel with the direction our country has taken. I’m terrified for the environment, terrified at the resurgence in hate crimes, terrified for the possibility that so much of what Obama has worked for could be undone. I’m really, really scared.

If we were living inside a story, a day like yesterday has a definition: the dark night of the soul.

The dark night of the soul is “the moment in the last third of the story when everything has fallen apart and the character is at an emotional low. It is the darkness before the dawn, the moment when the character knows without a doubt that they have failed in their quest and will never achieve their goal.” (source)

That is how I feel. I feel like I didn’t do enough. I didn’t donate enough money to the Hillary campaign, I didn’t spend enough time volunteering, I didn’t post about the election enough, etc. etc. etc. I know this outcome isn’t *my* fault, but I have a tendency to take things personally.

But the thing about the dark night of the soul is: it’s the moment right  before the protagonist digs in her heels and decides to fight.

Real life is not as formulaic as fiction. But I take comfort in this all the same. I can’t do anything to change the outcome of this election; but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. I can volunteer with and continue to donate to organizations that support at-risk youth and equality and women’s rights. I can continue to voice my support of people who are not of the same race, religion, or sexual orientation as me. I can continue to be kind.

And I can continue writing, because fiction has saved me in more ways than I can count.

It may take me a little while to get my mojo back. But a halt in progress–or even a step backwards, the step our country is currently taking–doesn’t mean the fight is lost. It just means we fight harder.

To again quote The Boss:

No defeat, baby, no surrender.